AMD Processors

When we set out to write this guide, AMD processors were the most blatant offenders. There are four AMD cores shipping right now on the desktop, two (Hammer and Newcastle) of which also have non-standard variants with cache disabled and relabeled as other chips. Considering that most Athlon 64 processors have a different clock from core to core while the product name remains the same, it becomes real easy to get the wrong chip in many instances.

First, let's take a look at the code names and features of all the currently shipping AMD processors. We'll break it down by platform to keep things manageable.

AMD Processors
Core Name CPU Name L2 Cache Process Notes
Socket A
Thoroughbred Athlon XP/Sempron 256K 130nm  
Thorton Athlon XP/Sempron 256K 130nm  
Barton Athlon XP/Sempron 512K 130nm  
Socket 754
Clawhammer Athlon 64 1024K 130nm  
Newcastle Athlon 64 512K 130nm  
Paris Sempron 256K 130nm  
Palermo Sempron 128K/256K 90nm SSE3 enabled
Socket 939
Newcastle Athlon 64 512K 130nm  
Sledgehammer Athlon 64/FX 1024K 130nm  
Winchester Athlon 64 512K 90nm  
Venice Athlon 64 512K 90nm SSE3 enabled
San Diego Athlon 64/FX 1024K 90nm SSE3 enabled
Manchester Athlon 64 X2 2 x 512K 90nm SSE3 + Dual Core
Toledo Athlon 64 X2 2 x 1024K 90nm SSE3 + Dual Core

Socket 754

For those on a budget, the Socket 754 Sempron parts might be interesting. The 754 parts are decent performers, although they lack the 64-bit extensions, should you want them in the future. If you do get a Sempron, we'd recommend the 90nm Palermo (BA/BO) cores rather than the 130nm Paris (AX) cores. At the time of publication, the only Paris Sempron comes in the form of the Sempron 3100+, and it is starting to be phased out. Unfortunately, we stumble into our first problem here: there are two versions of Palermo [RTPE: Palermo] floating around. The first generation of Palermo processors uses the "D0" stepping while the second uses the "E3" stepping. On Semprons, the difference in steppings is not dramatic, since the better extensions are in the Athlon 64 chips anyway. However, the "E3" chips - denoted with "BO" in the SKU - are slightly more desirable as they are supposed to run a little bit cooler than their "D0" or "BA" predecessors.

Also keep in mind that Sempron cache sizes differ every other processor; i.e. the Sempron 2600+ has 128KB of L2 cache, the 2800+ has 256KB, 128KB for the 3000+... and so on. While the onboard memory controller on the Socket 754 and Socket 939 processors helps to mitigate the impact of the reduced cache size, it's almost always desirable to grab the chip with the bigger cache if you can afford it (at least when the difference is between 128KB and 256KB). Don't let the different L2 cache sizes fool you though; all of these chips are Palermo.

So, now that you are thoroughly confused, let's make things even more confusing; enter the ubiquitous Socket 754 Athlon 64 processors. There has been talk about EOL (End of Life) on the Socket 754 desktop platform, and if that is the case, then we suspect that the Athlon 64 3700+ (2.4 GHz with 1MB L2 cache) will remain the fastest option. The 3700+ as well as the 1MB cache 3200+ and 3400+ all use the Clawhammer core, while the 512K cache chips all use the later Newcastle core. Clawhammer appears to have been a time-to-market decision, as it was expensive to manufacture due to the size. It also generates more heat than Newcastle, which isn't too surprising. The added cache adds anywhere between 3 to 10 percent performance, depending on application, which means that most people wouldn't notice the difference between the 2.4 GHz 3400+ Newcastle and the 2.4 GHz 3700+ Clawhammer.

Hammer chips (Sledgehammer and Clawhammer) are the oldest in the Athlon 64 fleet, and still us the "C0" stepping. "C0" was the original Athlon 64 (and Opteron) stepping, so if you plan on buying a Hammer chip, you're planning on buying a two-year-old processor at this point. Generally speaking, you can easily determine if a processor is a Hammer chip by the SKU; if the SKU ends in "AP" (Socket 754 512KB L2), "AR" (Socket 754 1MB L2) or "AS" (Socket 939), you're looking at a Hammer chip. Newcastle chips utilize the "CG" stepping and are slightly newer than their Hammer counterparts. You can usually spot a Newcastle processor due to the "AX" in the product SKU. Unlike Hammer chips, all Newcastle processors use "AX" regardless of cache size, including the tiny Sempron 3100+ that we mentioned earlier - which AMD dubbed Paris.

As far as overclocking is concerned, neither the Newcastle nor Clawhammer cores do very well, though the Newcastle tends to be a bit better.   2.5 GHz is typically the maximum speed that they'll run, and many of them won't handle more than about 2.4 GHz. If you want to try overclocking, your best bet is probably the Newcastle 3200+, which is relatively inexpensive and can often reach nearly the same performance level as the 3700+. Motherboard choice will also play a role in overclocking, with the DFI LANParty UT 250Gb being the star of the platform. If you already have a socket 754 motherboard, however, we'd recommend that you stick with that rather than buying the DFI simply for overclocking - you'll have better luck with the 90nm 939 parts if overclocking is what you're after. The 90nm Palermo Sempron chips seem to overclock quite well - 2.5 GHz and above can usually be reached - but the reduced cache sizes bring diminishing returns. Coupled with the need for decent RAM or the use of an asynchronous memory bus, the benefits of overclocking Sempron chips are pretty slim. In the end, a 2.5 GHz 256K Sempron will roughly match a 2.2 GHz 512K Athlon 64 on socket 754.

If you're only running a 2800+ or Sempron, it may be worthwhile to spend $200 to $300 for a faster processor, but ultimately, the platform is going to be the limiting factor. No dual core processors are planned for 754, and although PCIe may appear in a few motherboards, we have a hard time recommending such an option. It's also worth noting that the maximum supported RAM on Socket 754 motherboards is 3GB, meaning that true 64-bit support is somewhat debatable. For most Socket 754 owners, we'd say stick with what you have until you're no longer satisfied with the performance, and then upgrade to a new platform. For those who are looking to buy a new computer, we'd urge you to stay away from Socket 754 unless budget is the overriding concern. It's not necessarily a bad platform, but $50 more would allow you to upgrade to Socket 939, which we feel is the better choice.

Index Socket 939
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  • Tujan - Friday, May 27, 2005 - link

    'Emphasis. Im not a loreate of writing style. Both writing and speaking converge sometimes. Double quotes is 'quoted,'quoted written"".

    Since syntax of computers with parameters etc,in for example 'DOS will use computer langauge etc,I dont use them in practice ':) for example.

    Might find a more 'legal' way for writing,but doing so is just as much a 'program,so......

    ........if you weren't speaking(writing) to me. Never mind.

    ....... Get in trouble lots for not having correct usage. But cant edit stuff easily or 'proof it,such that looks same way as 'studied authors/article writers. The 2 dimensions of speaking/writing hasn't really come to a full context. Prefer writing to speak.For all practical purposes,everybody is silent to this.
    Never gauranteed of readers display characteristics.Or 'commentors ,program variations.

    The Anandtech forum here,makes a brief reply look long and out of place. Didn't mean to scarf it up.
    Think the balance is in what your trying to say when commenting.

    ....ya know.
  • stephenbrooks - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    What's with all the extra apostrophes (') you keep putting in your posts before the words?
  • Tujan - Saturday, May 21, 2005 - link

    "" As for components, PCIe and DDR2 are definitely not necessary for a computer. They may help in certain tasks, and they may be more "future proof", but if you were to set two PCs next to each other, one with AGP and DDR and the other with PCIe and DDR2, most people couldn't tell the difference without opening up the control panel."""

    ..idea being it makes no difference the question of 'can a hippopotamus swim"". Perhaps maybe both you and me know the answer. What makes a difference is it is still a valid question. Wich has a definite answer.
    Problem being,spend more or less for your computer ""? People arent buying computers to give you their money. Then - I dont want performance based on a cost of a machine. Information is necesary to tell how 'lucky I will be as a purchaser. Where participation of technology is the relationship of buyer. The 'platform,AMD,Intel,both have a signifigant performance to that participation. I have not yet seen the stats in wich show'd other than relationship between 'highest tier,and 'others. Would like to see,all the performance stats for the platforms ,for anything other than FX,or EE processors. (make it 775,939).
    Again,these are really affordable,very good performing machines,new technology,and 'upgradable to a future 'partipation of the technological accesory.You could for example,simply take the two 775,or 939 pin 'platform as basic criteria. Then tool the charts consistent to all other processors excluding FX,or EE. If you look,the same person w/o knowing a frame rate,from the control panel,is the same person looking at the same frame rate(Pcie,Agp). The person looking at memory output,is dealing with the memory output they have on the platform with the processors. Different apps,have different stats as to how they will perform. This pertains to the same person utilizing them to their participation to it.
    AGP/PCI express ...same affordable graphics cards. Motherboards ..same affordable motherboards. Memory same affordable memory.
    But I have yet to see anybody do the changout for the processors. The affordable processors.
    Sure I know that if you did this on a monthly basis it wouldn't show a great deal of difference. But even giving the same info over again,leaves room for a highlighted proprietors system accesory.,though not the criteria for the comparison. Since there are always someone 'new,to surmise their systems,it would be certainly good for them.

    Making a mistake to leave the criteria out simply to deem 'cost analysis. Since we know these are performance,better than that before - the technology still has not been given its air of dayview. At least not with the processors. Knowing you could do this is just well enough an upgradable powerful platform. Leave 'cost analysis to THAT criteria. Fact is they are affordable,they are powerful,they are participation in new better technology.
    Might consider applications when dealing with the hardware facet such as 'dual-channel memory/non-dual channel memory.Again along with the ''multi-tasking''.
    The big deal however is the 'fact of making the stats for the processors.AMD has been way too expensive.Affordability is just coming on line.Same goes with Intels 'Prescotts. Maybe the processors will show distributive results across the platform.

    ..........had to look up hippopotamus. Hi ya. I'll be reading. Really apreciate the reply here. This WAS a question for a processor to resolve.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    A budget system doesn't imply that it's a slow PC by any means, but there are certainly tasks which will bring a budget system to its knees. Gaming is one such task, but video editing and content creation in generaly really require more than a typical budget PC. We also had the Gaming Guide at the end of November, which included PCs for the Low, Mid, and High end price ranges. That was intended as a Christmas computer Guide, and it covered all the options we feel are important.

    If you don't want a good graphics card, I assume you understand that the Buyer's Guides are merely meant as recommendations. You can easily remove the graphics card from the equation if you want. We probably could do a monthly Buyer's Guide covering each segment, but some times very little changes.

    As for components, PCIe and DDR2 are definitely not necessary for a computer. They may help in certain tasks, and they may be more "future proof", but if you were to set two PCs next to each other, one with AGP and DDR and the other with PCIe and DDR2, most people couldn't tell the difference without opening up the control panel.

    Our Guides always try to make it clear that if you're happy with your computer, there's really no reason to buy a new one. Upgrade when *you* want to, not just because a new technology comes out. Many people and corporations are still running Pentium III and Athlon systems with 1 GHz or less processors, and for the most part they're okay with the performance level offered. I still wouldn't suggest anyone actually buy such a system NEW right now unless it cost less than $100. (I just gave away my old Pentium 3 1.4 GHz PC with 512MB of RAM to a friend - it had become useless to me, as I had better PCs available to replace it.)

    Anyway, Tujan, you might not want to read the Mid-Range to High-End Guide when it comes out next week, as it targets the $1500+ price range. :) Kidding, of course, but please realize when you read it that we're not saying people HAVE to spend that much. I'll be starting another Budget Guide soon as well, for those interested in the price/performance options.

    Take Care,
    Jarred Walton
    Buyer's Guide Editor
  • Tujan - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    Buyers Guide Mid-Range,January 2005
    Author Jarred Walton..

    Just one more tug at your attention here one tiny moment. This article came out in January 2005. It is well put together,and sums up some of the same components that will go into todays computers. Although the selection will be of course those included to June 2005 if anybody was to include them.

    The technology space is the same pretty much,pci-e or no pci-e,socket/socket wich socket,and where art thou processor,and memory,where oh where is my memory,or what did I do with it. And whichever be the case.

    Comment being this article was out in January 21 2005 ! The very same day,probably to the hour that those xmas credit card bills became due. We needed this article a month before xmas,....actually we need this article every freeky month. In otherwords the timing of this article couldn't be worse.

    And these are performance computers. They are not 'low-end,just on the count of a lesser priced video card,or lower amount of memory/processor type. Something is very wrong with the insultive frequent in the likes of "Longhorn" Dec 2006, AMD DDR2 Feb 2006,Intel 945g Motherboard 250$,AMD DualCore 500$,Intel EE 950$. Ah crack corn and dance XBox now.

    While I couldn't bett against them I could certainly fit between them.So some of your stories at least should 'light up for somebody. I just dont see the benifits of the change involved in being informed about it lately. Since nobody is showing us the score of that performance information. So at least a person could be 'lucky at that performance level.

    I just find it quite insultive to know Im being ignored. The chronology of presentation in statistics of performance of systems in articles couldn't be worse.

    Wont bother you with this again. Said my piece,geuss thats well enough.
  • Tujan - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    JarredWalton,..Hi ya..ufphhhh - your the author here (LOL).
    The point Im trying to let you know about is that for a new buyer,939,and 775 pci systems,are 'performance systems.The lack of memory,or want of a processor does not mean that we as a buying public are gathering low end dirt.
    Your article is detailed for the processor.But marketwise,lets be honest about what you know about them. You or I can put them together for under 1300.00,so why should I be insulted with being ignored to the use of the technology as a consumer.Being told,I have a low end system,or a 'value system - simply because I didn't stuff a gig,or a 400-500$ graphics card into the system.
    When you look the conspiracy gets deeper in that for both AMD,or Intel it will cost 500$ min,to keep with the dual cores on your platform !!.
    AMD has been very expensive,period.The platforms have been mixed (no-pci,yes-pcie). With Intel still being just as bad now,with its 'new motherboard etc.
    Mean 18mos on the market then your gone ? Think that was 18 months to market,two day (Ill exajerate) gone on the shelf.

    Your story is fitted for everybody (Hi everybody), processors. I think everybody is waiting to go as it is. Nothing to do with YOUR story if you want to say so. (if you say so must be so). Still,I would like to see the benches from all like made processors besides FX,or EE on the similar platforms.

    Wouldn't hurt if sales floors had outlines ,with pictographs,detailing differences of socket types ,boards/bus,mem/mem ram types.Ya know,say you got a good deal"...,for a AMD 754. Nevermind they dont use PCI-e (do they have pci-e?),..or dual channel memory for some of the boards.

    Mean if you know a marketing guy,tell him to put some balls on.The consumer needs the power in todays machines.They are upgradable.They are powerful.They are participation to new technology.

    Thanks for reply.Have a good day now.
  • Viditor - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    My own take on the naming scheme is that it is strictly for Joe-Six-Pack, those of us who post here (thanks to the AT staff) have a much clearer idea of what they actually have/do.
    That said, the question the AMD model numbers actually corelate to the chips performance level?
    AMD has said that to arrive at model numbers, they test the CPU on a battery of commonly used apps and compare it to the original Athlon 1GHz.
    I have actually never seen an independant reviewer attempt to emulate this to see if their numbers are justified or not, but I would be most curious to see the results! (hint, hint...)
  • nserra - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    #41 Without the XP's ans some of the 64 i have already 10 3000+ from AMD database.

    ADA3000DEP4AW AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 939 1.50V 89W View Details
    ADA3000DIK4BI AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 939 1.40V 67W View Details
    ADA3000DAA4BP AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 939 Variable 67W View Details
    ADA3000AEP4AP AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 2000Mhz Socket 754 1.50V 89W View Details
    ADA3000AEP4AR AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 2000Mhz Socket 754 1.50V 89W View Details
    ADA3000AEP4AX AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 2000Mhz Socket 754 1.50V 89W View Details
    SDA3000AIP2AX AMD Sempron 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 754 1.40V 62W View Details
    SDA3000AIO2BA AMD Sempron 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 754 1.40V 62W View Details
    SDA3000AIO2BO AMD Sempron 3000+ 1800Mhz Socket 754 1.40V 62W View Details
    SDA3000DUT4D AMD Sempron 3000+ 2000Mhz Socket A 1.60V 62W View Details
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Tujan, I'm not sure what that has to do with this article. This wasn't intended as a Buyer's Guide or Price Guide. We're talking about what each aspect of each core means (in a simplified manner). We recommended some upgrade options, but nothing we recommended was more than a few hundred dollars, and it wasn't meant as a "you MUST upgrade" but more as "you might consider upgrading if...."

    My comment about not getting the point of your post #37 was genuine. You say you're being critical, but I don't see how your comment is related to this article. If you can point out specific statements we made that you have problems with, I'm all ears. Right now, I'm simply confused. Sorry.
  • justly - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I understand how the generic names can be disapointing to a "techno-snob" (LOL) like yourself. I just got carried away with my post and didn't want to just delete it after writing so much. I must not be as much a "techno-snob" as some :) BTW, nice crib sheet (I mean article).

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