Read our review on the AMD Opteron, Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX processors
Added (2005): Execute Disable/No Execute (NX)
New Technologies for 2004
Posted on 04/11/2004
Update in November: Nothing major to report except that the 64 bit AMD processors now go up to 3800 (that still not a MHz rating)
AMD Opteron, FX51, Athlon 64 etc have now become fairly established. Please read this article we posted a few months ago on the latest AMD processors.
As of today Athlon 64s start at the 3000 and go up to 3400. Note though that these aren't clock speeds. FX-51s are currently the fastest of AMD's 64 bit processors but they use motherboards different to the ones required for other Athlon 64 CPUs.
New Technologies for 2003
Posted on 01/06/2003
Latest developments at AMD
AMD processors now go all the way up to AMD's XP 3200+, and their dual-processor CPUs go all the way to the Athlon MP 2800+. However, there is some unrest in the IT press about AMD's numbering system. In the earlier days an XP 2000+ did compare with Intel's Pentium 4, 2.0 GHz in performance. With the faster AMD processors the "Intel Equivalency Numbering" is looking unrealistic. The XP 3200+ seems to perform on par with the Intel 3.06 GHz Pentium 4, or below. It does not compare with an Intel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz processor.
Whether it's Intel's faster bus speed or the new technology - hyped under today's new buzz word: "hyperthreading" - the fact is that Intel is moving ahead. Intel's dropping their insistence on the more expensive RD RAM and allowing motherboard manufacturers to build boards that support the Pentium 4 using cheaper DDR SDRAM memory modules has also made Intel the preferred option of most technical/review websites. AMD though does remain the lower cost option, and speed isn't everything.
Of course, the only constant in this business is change. There is the new AMD processor called the Opteron on the horizon. It promises 64 bit processing (as opposed to 32 bit at the moment). While hardware that handled 64 bit applications has been around for a while this is the first time that a platform supports both 32 bit and 64 bit processing and will be targeted at the SOHO market. Most home users won't benefit for a long while as there aren't any 64 bit applications for the domestic/small business market. In due course that will change. And Opteron will be available for purchase. And Intel will be on the verge of announcing another new technology/advantage in the leapfrog game to have the fastest processor :-)
Previous information posted on 21/11/02
Faster Front Side Bus (FSB)
Since our last update nothing much has happened. Oh, yes, there have been some new processors, like the XP2400+, XP2600+ and XP2700+. But not much else. Except that some of the newer processors will be shipping in a 333 FSB (not 266 anymore) so you need to ensure that your motherboard supports that. Of course most of our PCs already support 333 MHz, any many of them support even the 400 MHz FSB (for future upgrades) via the VIA KT400 chipset, nForce2 chipset etc.
Previous information posted on 03/07/02
Athlon XP Processors
With the release of Windows XP there has been a rush to cash in on the "XP" bandwagon, and AMD is no exception. They've named their new processors the "Athlon XPs". (Note though that there is no connection between the XP processors and Windows XP. You can run Windows XP on an older AMD processor and you can run older versions of Windows on an Athlon XP processor). These XP versions of the standard Athlon processor offer little difference in technological advancement, but a big difference in marketing. The Athlon XP processor, unlike all previous AMD processors, are numbered strangely. It's unofficially called the "Intel equivalence numbering". For example an Athlon XP 1800+ processor is really a 1.53 GHz (the 1800+ is meant to signify what Intel Pentium processor you would need to compare it with). An Athlon XP 1600+ is a 1.4 GHz processor. This numbering system still has the potential to mislead, so be careful. An 1.8 GHz Athlon processor is obviously a lot faster than an Athlon XP 1800+.
Most motherboards that take the standard Athlon processors also take the Athlon XPs as they are the same shape and have the same number of pins. The XPs still work on a 266 MHz FSB, and still use DDR SDRAM. Newer motherboards for the Athlon support a 333 MHz FSB... and RAM is now available that runs at this speed. It's commonly referred to as DDR SDRAM PC 2700. At time of writing this article the fastest AMD processor was the XP 2200+. AMD don't seem to be planning any 333 FSB processors in the immediate future.
Previous information posted on 21/03/01
Older motherboards like the Asus A7V do not support the latest type of Athlon Thunderbird processors and the latest fast DDR SDRAM. It's not just a matter of speed. Please note that if you buy a PC with the Asus A7V motherboard we do not guarantee that, outside of the warranty period, you will be able to get replacement parts or upgrades. For example if the processor goes faulty, or you wish to upgrade it, it is not a simple job. You would need to throw away a perfectly decent motherboard and RAM and buy a new motherboard and new RAM to support the replacement processor. This could make potential upgrades/repairs very expensive.
266 MHz Frontside bus:
AMD's intentions seem to be to move all Athlon Thunderbird production to the 266 MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) i.e. a 1 GHz processor will run at 133 MHz FSB x 7.5 multiplier (133 x 7.5 = 1000), rather than the older 100 x 10. And it will run faster even though it is still a 1 GHz processor. The physical shape of the processor will still be the Socket A format. All production of standard 200 MHz FSB Athlon/Thunderbird processors will cease.
Newer motherboards like the Asus A7M266, the Gigabytes GA 7DX etc will support the newer FSB. The three new motherboard chipsets (as of 29/01/01) supporting the 266 MHz FSB are Via's KT133A, AMD's 760 and Ali's Magik 1. Other motherboard manufacturers are bringing out motherboards based on these new chipsets.
If you bought an Athlon PC last year based on Slot A motherboards like the Gigabytes GA71X, you can't now upgrade the processor because all Athlon processors are in the Socket A format, and not Slot A. Similarly, if you buy a PC today based on the Socket A 200 MHz FSB (like the Asus A7V) you will not be able to upgrade the processor if AMD moves all their Athlon processors to a 266 MHz FSB, as they intend to. Today's latest technology for motherboards is a motherboard that supports the 266 MHz FSB and DDR SDRAM, like the Asus A7M266. Anything else and you may find, in the future, than you can upgrade neither the processor nor the RAM.
Apart from the obvious advantage of a 266 MHz FSB some of the newer motherboards support the new 184 pin DDR (Double Date Rate/Double Density) SDRAM. This RAM offers speeds of PC1600 and PC2100 as opposed to the older SDRAM speeds of PC100 (800 Mb/sec maximum bandwidth) and PC 133 (1050 Mb/sec max bandwidth). With the speed of RAM being the major bottleneck in today's PCs based on very high speed processors, we welcome the arrival of DDR SDRAM. It is going to be a vital component that will allow us to get a lot more performance out of existing hardware.
For more technical news we've compiled a list of sites worth visiting: reviews
The new motherboards for the Athlon Thunderbirds will now also support UDMA 100 for the IDE Hard Disk as an integral part of the motherboard chipset functions and without the requirement of an additional controller (like the Promise Controller on the Asus A7V) or additional PCI card.
Please look out in our products section for announcements of new models of PCs based on the new motherboards/processors.