Final Words

So the verdict on 939 is that it isn't a revolutionary performer, and it won't bring peace to world. But socket 939 is really the finishing touch and final polish that the Athlon 64 line has been waiting for.

We have been waiting for this socket for a long time now, and if we lived in a perfect world, we would have seen a socket 939 like solution (with dual channel and all desktop Athlon 64 processors on one platform) from the beginning. Of course, now that its here, we have reason to rejoice. Socket 754 will become home to the new value line of processors as the current generation of Athlon XP processors fades into the sunset, and 940 pin platforms will still be used for Opteron servers and workstations.

We keep hearing rumors of an Opteron for 939, but we aren't exactly sure why something like that makes sense. Registered and ECC memory support are very important for server and workstation class systems. Stability is the most important factor in such platforms, and taking away such a big part of the equation really doesn't seem logical.

In the final analysis, current socket 754 and socket 940 users won't see gain any real value from "upgrading" to socket 939. The new addition of a dual channel memory controller for unbuffered DDR has no doubt given the Athlon 64 line a small performance increase, but it may not be as much as people had been expecting. The main advantages to socket 939 will be the convergence of the Athlon 64 desktop platform, the ability to use unbuffered RAM in conjunction with high end desktop processors, and the warm feeling that comes from knowing there's quite a lot of memory bandwidth under the hood with a dual channel memory controller on die.

The real reason we aren't seeing more intense performance increases from socket 939 is the same reason we don't huge performance differences between Athlon 64 processors with different sized caches (at least we don't see the variance we see among Pentium 4 based processors): the Athlon 64 is not an incredibly deeply pipelined architecture, and cache misses that result in pipeline stalls don't cause the processor to waste much of its time refilling the pipeline (as is the case with Intel's Netburst architecture in low cache situations). Really, the added bandwidth of dual channel is able to more than make up for the loss of 512kB in cache.

The socket 939 FX-53 absolutely takes the cake in terms of performance (though price will still be a barrier to entry, and an Athlon 64 processor will be a much better value). We are happy with the new line of Athlon 64 processors.

In the final analysis, we aren't talking about the be all end all of platforms and performance, but, certainly, anyone who wants an Athlon 64 system should look no further than socket 939 for its flexibility, overclockability, and performance.

Comparing CPUs: 3400+ and 3500+


View All Comments

  • Viditor - Saturday, June 05, 2004 - link

    #37 - "Doesn't seem to me to make any sense spending 5 Grand on a 64 bit system until the OS is available?"

    5 GRAND?!?!?!
    What are you PUTTING in there?
    Even the most expensive (FX53) chip is ~$840, and the ASUS mobo is ~$190...
  • tmhartsr - Friday, June 04, 2004 - link

    Hey guys - where is the 64 bit OS? Doesn't seem to me to make any sense spending 5 Grand on a 64 bit system until the OS is available? Also really need PCI Express MOBO. But especially - how about an update on the OS. Perfect opportunity for an Apple OS-64 written especially for the AMD 64?!#* Reply
  • Falco. - Thursday, June 03, 2004 - link

    will the S754/940 heat sink and fans work with 939 ?? Reply
  • XRaider - Wednesday, June 02, 2004 - link

    Thanks Viditor, I appreciate it! :) I will have to keep my eyes open on this heat stuff and see what other people will state about this. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Pretty interesting, but I'm not super surprised by the results. I would imagine that the 3700+ CPU would be about the same distance from the 3800+ as the 3400+ is from the 3500+. Given the prices, I really don't see much reason for celebrating the release (finally!) of socket 939.

    I did some speculation on some other forums about some related issues AMD and Intel seem to be encountering, for any who want to read a longer post:
  • Viditor - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    XRaider - To be clear, AMD and Intel actually report 2 different numbers when they talk about heat dissapation.
    AMD reports the MAXIMUM TDP FOR THE WHOLE CPU LINE (both now and in the future...) This means that 104watts is the max thermal design power (the absolute worst it could get) for all 939 cpus at 13nm.

    Intel reports ONLY THE "TYPICAL" TDP FOR THE SPECIFIED CHIP. This means that Intel runs a series of software (they won't release WHICH software they use) and measure the power at that time. They don't report the actual maximum theoretical thermal levels. Intel have a different TDP listed for each processor, and often a different TDP for different stepping of processors.

    So, to answer your question (sorry about the length), while the 939 line of parts have an absolute theoretical max of 104 watts, you will probably see it somewhere in the 80's...
  • mikeymasta - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    These benchmarks look great, but I REALLY would appreciate it if we could see some OpenSSL benchmarks?
    Because I would love to get my boss to get an AMD based server but hes one of those know all "Intel' is always better type people
    In the server enviroment just an openssl benchmark could turn things around.
    Just install linux or FreeBSD, you could even use a live linux CD so you dont have to install and then just type "openssl speed"
    most linux dists would have openssl in
    /usr/bin/openssl speed > speed_log 2>&1
    to log it to a file
    We are thinking about getting the Sun based AMD but it costs a lot!

    If you could do that for all new CPU benchmarks I would be very happy.
  • Pumpkinierre - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    #23 The french site said the spec is 104W and found the heatsink temp (applied above) to be 50C under load and 60C@1.8V overclocking (216MHz) on a 3800+ using a MSI K8Nneo2 (nf3-250) and Asus A8V (K8T800pro). Overall they stated that the cpu ran hot compared to S754 a64s:

    Both mobos BIOSs defaulted to DDR333 with 4 double sided DIMMS.

    Xbit say that 104W is the overall spec for S939 but present 130nm cpus stay at 89W TDP (Prescott anyone?). However the temps (cpu diode-Asus A8V)are mildly frightening: 41-64 (idle-load) for the 3800+ but the 3500+ is the coolest 38-58. They even get 40-60C with the 3400+ (but dont quote ambient) which still makes me wonder about the coolness of these cpus. They got the 3500+ to 232MHz FSB and the 3800+ to 215 but didnt quote the voltage. They quoted the same AMD info for the DIMMS:

    All in all it looks like the heat issues arent confined to Intel biut Cool and Quiet might help out.
  • Pollock - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    "In the final analysis, we aren't talking about the be all end all of platforms and performance, but, certainly, anyone who wants an Athlon 64 system should look no further than socket 939 for its flexibility, overclockability, and performance."
    I don't remember reading much about overclockability anywhere? Yeah, maybe a statement about the higher HT speed possibly helping, but I want to know more than that!
  • SHO235V8 - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Derek, what about the compatability issues and heat issues? Any news on these fronts and when will these parts be available? I have been waiting for the 939 for some time and my desktop gets slower everyday! Thanks ;) Reply

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