AMD Athlon 64 FX-57: The Fastest Single Coreby Derek Wilson on June 27, 2005 11:47 AM EST
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IntroductionAMD is increasing the speed of their highest performing CPU today. The Athlon FX-57 is a 200MHz bump from the current FX-55, brining the clock speed of the highest performing single core CPU on the market to 2.8GHz. This modest 7.7% increase is not the be all, end all of speed bumps, but AMD is still in a much better position than Intel for extracting performance by tacking on an extra 200MHz. Intel's successive 200MHz increases on Prescott since it's existence have increased performance by smaller and smaller amounts 2.8 GHz to 3.8 GHz is a 35.7% increase in clock speed, which should be an overestimate of performance barring cache size increases. If we look at AMD's performance improvements from 1.8 GHz to 2.8 GHz, the upper bound on our performance increase is greater than 55%, plus any improvement for doubling cache size.
Performance doesn't scale exactly linearly with clock speed in most cases, but the bottom line is that K8 started out faster than Prescott at a lower clock speeds. The result of the speed increases on current generation CPUs has been an increasing performance gap between Intel and AMD in favor of AMD. Even in the benchmarks where AMD's architecture traditionally loses to Intel, the gap is either decreased or the outcome has changed all together. There just isn't any way Intel's current architecture can compete in single threaded performance on the high end.
But as we have mentioned time and time again, steadily increasing clock speed over time is a losing proposition. The future of computing performance must increasingly rely on architectural enhancements. The first incarnation of this outlook has been the introduction dual core processors. This first generation shows some promising numbers in many areas, but a single thread's maximum performance won't increase with the addition of cores. The result of this fact is that those who demand extremely high performance will still demand high end single core processors.
While the focus of the industry is clearly elsewhere, both AMD and Intel still need to cater to the current state of the market. The FX-57 is very expensive and comes in at a whopping $1031 (in quantities of 1000 from AMD). While this is the fastest processor on the market, let's take a look at the benchmarks to see how much we get for the money.