Athlon XP: Awaiting 64-bit Architecture
On April 22, AMD announced a server version of its 64-bit Opteron processor. Unfortunately, the server version was announced. In addition, most likely at the beginning the 64-bit platform will be very expensive, so for a long time we will continue to install 32-bit Athlon XP processors in desktop computers. Information about the Athlon XP processors, and especially about its latest modification (on the Barton core) is very contradictory. Therefore, in anticipation of the massive arrival of 64-bit Athlon 64 processors in our computers, we decided to carefully consider once again whether the Athlon XP processor is really good.
Lyrically – a historical retreat
Obviously, the “arms race” in the 32-bit processor market we are witnessing has led to a staggering increase in the performance of both AMD and Intel processors. For modern processors, in most cases, even it makes no sense to compare performance. It is enough in excess. Only in individual applications (scientific calculations, graphics processing, non-linear editing of films) still need to choose a processor based on performance. In other cases, the choice of processor is either a matter of personal sympathy or a matter of prestige.
There is also the flip side of the coin in question. The year 2002 was marked by the mass production of “paper” processors. In our market, new processors began to appear about six months after the official announcement and a lot of noise on the Internet about this. Therefore, having familiarized ourselves with the news on the processor market on the Internet, we are going to buy already somewhat outdated models. And the “obsolete” models can not be approached with the same standard as the “top” new products. Technology is constantly changing. In particular, AMD solved the technological problem of switching to 0.13 micron processor technology quite recently.
For a very long time we waited for AMD processors manufactured using 0.13 micron technology, subconsciously expecting a significant leap forward. But it turned out that the new processors, in addition to the clock frequency, are no different from their predecessors, made by 0.18 micron technology. Therefore, the Athlon XP 2200+ processor (the first-born of 0.13 micron AMD technology) has even caused some disappointment since its inception.
However, it should be noted that the transition to a new technology is a very painful process, especially when the market is saturated with competitors’ products. Recall events two years ago: in 2001, Intel switched to 0.13 micron technology. The clock speeds of the Pentium 4 processors have slowed significantly. The architecture of Athlon processors made it possible to increase the processor clock speed even without switching to a new technology. Therefore, AMD focused on improving the internal structure of its processor (new name Athlon XP), which allowed to further increase productivity. This led to the fact that the Athlon XP 1900+ processor was the undisputed leader in the night from 2001 to 2002.
The slowdown in Athlon processors productivity growth in 2002, associated with the transition to 0.13 micron technology, could be predicted in advance, all the more so for AMD the transition to the new technology was hampered by the need to redesign the core to release processors at UMC production facilities.
For Intel, the problem of switching to the 0.13 micron process ended in January 2002. Since that time, the clock speed of Pentium 4 processors began to grow by leaps and bounds. Moreover, for Intel 2002 is also a year of improving the internal structure of Pentium 4 processors. So, in particular, with the transition to 0.13 micron technology, the cache of the second level of Pentium 4 processors was increased to 512 KB. In the subsequent modernization of the core of Pentium 4 processors, the frequency of the system bus was increased to 133 MHz. The Quad-pumped Bus technology allows transferring data at a frequency of 533 MHz on this bus (very fast compared to the Athlon XP system bus at 266 MHz). All this has significantly improved the performance of Pentium 4 processors.
Therefore, at the turn of 2002-2003, determining one’s sympathies is far from a trivial task. Moreover, AMD, despite the difficulties noted, does not stand still. Its processors also received a faster system bus and a larger cache volume.
At the EnterEX-2003 exhibition held from February 18 to 22, one of the most trump exhibits exhibited by EPOS was a non-linear editing station based on the Athlon XP 3000+ processor. This is AMD’s long-awaited BARTON processor. The interest in this exhibit was caused by the long wait for the processors on the new core and the fact that the new processors were announced, were just recently, on February 10, and already at the exhibition it was possible to watch them “in action”.
Judging by the questions that come to us after the exhibition (and by a number of publications on the Internet), after testing samples of new processors, many people feel like disappointment. Expecting something more.