by January 1, 2002 0 comments

Since most consumers relate performance to processor clock speeds, the P4 had started raising eyebrows at AMD’s marketing department. Since the Athlon cannot match the P4’s clock speed, AMD has now decided to give performance ratings to its new processors. Hence, Athlon XP 1800+ is a name given to a processor that AMD thinks performs as well as their competitors’ (read Intel’s) 1800 MHz processors, even though it runs at 1.53 Ghz.

Athlon XP 1800+
Price: Approx Rs 13,500
Meant for: High-end graphics and gaming
Features: Palomino core, 1.53 GHz, Socket A compatible
Pros: Amazing performance, improvements in the core
Cons: None
Contact: AMD Far East Ltd (India). Tel: 011-6238620-29 Fax: 6281364. Chintels House, A-11 Kailash Colony, New Delhi 110048.

The name isn’t all that has changed. The new Athlons feature a new core, called Palomino. It supports Intel’s SSE instructions (SSE2 should be included in the Hammer core), has an improved hardware prefetch mechanism that makes the data available in the processor’s cache even before it is requested for, has improvements in the TLBs (translation look aside buffers), needs less power and features an on-board thermal diode that should take care of the burnt out processors. Athlon XP processors will only run at 133 MHz FSB double data rate (266 MHz effective) and will not be available in 100 MHz FSB configurations.

For our tests, we used a GeForce3 video card, 256 MB DDR-RAM and an IBM Deskstar 7200 RPM hard drive on a Gigabyte GA-7DX motherboard. We compared it to a P4 2 GHz processor, since both are targeted at the same market segment. We ran a series of benchmarks, focusing on things like graphics, gaming, and productivity to see how the two processor stand up to each other. The first test we ran was the 3D Winbench processor test, in which the Athlon XP beat the Intel by a fair margin. SeriousSam, a benchmark, which focuses on gaming, also went in favor of the Athlon XP, and again by quite a margin. However, the P4 was able to pull one back by getting slightly better scores in QuakeIII Arena and 3Dmark 2001. While Quake III Arena tests the gaming capabilities of the system, 3Dmark 2001 focuses on graphics and on gaming.

Creation Winstone 2001 
Winstone 2001 
Winbench Processor Test 
480* 16 fps
Sam 640*480*16 fps
2001 (3D Marks)
AMD Athlon XP 1800  64 56.8 3.25 206 119.9 5691
Intel P4 2.0 Ghz 56.8  50 3.03 222.4 92.1 5907

In Content Creation Winstone 2001, a benchmark which ensures a high processor load through high-end applications like video editing, the Athlon XP scores 10% more than the P4 which is amazing considering the fact that it is actually clocked 23.5% lower. On Business Winstone 2001, which runs productivity applications, the AthlonXP again managed to win hands down, with a performance difference of about 12%.

The verdict is quite clear. AMD has retained its performance lead over Intel with the new Athlon XP CPU. But, whether the performance rating system works to their advantage or not remains to be seen. We can say that their model numbers are quite conservative in nature, and definitely don’t overrate the product. This processor is priced at approximately Rs 13,500, which is not too bad when compared with the Rs 25,000 price of the Intel P4 2Ghz. The average home consumer will have little use for such a powerful CPU, but gamers and users of high-end applications like multimedia creation, CAD/CAM application, will find it worth its price.

Anuj Jain at PCQ Labs

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