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AthlonXP Released 372

ldopa1 writes "True to form, AMD has released the new Athlon XP today. This article on Tom's Hardware has the full technical specs for the chip as well as a look at the new packaging. Tom's also has a full set of benchmarks for the chip." michael : See also reviews on, Newsforge, AnandTech and AMDMB. Update: 10/09 20:29 GMT by T : gregfortune points out that AMD is giving away quite a few of these in a six-city promotion as well, so if you live in one of the six, perhaps you can snag one.
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AthlonXP Released

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  • Question (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:19AM (#2406436)
    Do we have to call into AMD to get a number to have the chip activated?
  • by kvandivo ( 207171 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:20AM (#2406447) Homepage
    The question, though, is will their tricky ways work? Cyrix tried the exact same thing a few years back (marking a chip with a model number that represented the 'approximate intel performance' rather than the chip speed itself. Is AMD going to be able to pull this one off, or is it destined to go the same way as the Cyrix chip?
    • by Sir_Real ( 179104 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:33AM (#2406536)
      Well... The Cyrix chips didn't do well, but it wasn't because of their shady marketing, it was because the Cyrix chips absolutely sucked... (This is MHO, after owning one... I hated the damned thing...)

      Donning Asbestos Jumpsuit...
    • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:43AM (#2406604) Homepage
      This isn't trickery, it's consumer educating. Back in the days of Cyrix, MHZ ment a lot more, and Cyrix was a lot less realistic than AMD is being. AMD could safely call their 1.53Ghz chip the 2000+ instead of the 1800+. With a combination of a conservative "ratin" and a very well performing chip, I think AMD will be successful with their new offering.
      • It's also worth noting that this is only a temporary solution. I believe AMD is working on a completely new rating system to be adopted in 2002. It should completely abandon MHz measurements and evaluate performance more effectively. Whether or not the industry will cooperate is yet to be seen.
        • Silly silly question time:

          You have 2 competetors, really. The underdawg is going to try to make a new rating system that they hope to get everyone to use to bring back "fairness" to the processor rating game, but when your only real competetor is the one who is going to loose bigtime by using this new system (and therefore they will not), then how do you expect this new rating system to work?

          I think what would be better is for now to drop this silly "we're as good as that P4, swear it!" scheme and just call it something else. Call it the AthlonXP G+ or 6P+ or something. That way there is no realative comparison, and when you go to the store to ask "hey, which is better here?" the guy can just tell you "Go with the AMD such and such, because it's as good as this P4 over here", not only does it stay up to date with comparisons, but you also don't get accused of trickery.
      • No, calling it the 2000+ would be a horrible idea right now, and they did the right thing to be conservative, because as the article stated, once the P4s come out with their new core then the comparisons will be much more accurate. If they overjumped now and then the 2000 was only as good as a 1800 MHz P4, then you'd have even MORE trouble on AMD's hands then they would have had before they started this.
    • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:46PM (#2407014)
      This is AMD marketing trickery countering Intel engineering trickery. Intel doubled the pipeline length in the P4 versus the P3 and Athlon (20 stage versus 10 and 11, respectively) in order to crank the clock speed at the expense of performence (see The Megahertz Myth [] for an excellent overview on the subject). Thus why a 1.13GHz P3 will outrun a 1.4GHz P4 most of the time, and why the upgraded core of the 1.53GHz Athlon XP outruns the 2GHz P4 most of the time (for half the price).

      In other words, in marketing, two wrongs make a right!
      • It's not marketing. It's a design decision which also happens to have nice marketing side-effects. Higher clock rates versus a shorter pipeline is just a tradeoff much like CISC versus RISC. Intel's designers felt they could get more total performance out of the processor by lengthening the pipeline so they could clock the processors higher. If it also sounds faster to the consumer, so much the better.
        • Yes, that is a VERY good point that I wish that more people would realize.

          The fact was that for a while there Intel did have the fastest chip out on the market, and AMD is constantly playing the catchup game. In another month Intel will release their newest chip, and they will have the lead as the "fastest chip" on the market.

          So whilst all of the AMD affectionatos are trying to proove that "MHz aren't everything! (It's not the size that counts!...)" that door swings both ways there... AMD is still playing catchup for fastest chip, and Intel is still in the lead. (Yes yes the newest AMDs are faster than the P4 2.0, but not for long).

          HOWEVER, AMD does have one huge advantage : price. That one is a little hard to dispute, and is why my last PC purchase was a nice TBird 1.4 rather than an Intel at significantly more price. However if I was going for a once you factor in the cost of the motherboards. If you go for good motherboards, the Intel ones are cheaper and thus offset the price difference between chips. But as soon as you leave the Celerys behind then AMD is a clear winner, if not having the fastest chip (which doesn't really mean much since who really buys the fastest chip out anyways?) then all of their chip/mobo solutions are 2/3rds of the price for about the same performace.

          Oh well. Too bad Intel got gipped with the Rambus scandal. Mind you, it's not the RDRAM technology that's inherently bad, but more of the company. Interesting parallels between the RDRAM technology and Intel vs AMD and SDRAM if you ask me =)
  • [H]ard|OCP Review (Score:4, Informative)

    by questionlp ( 58365 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:22AM (#2406465) Homepage
    The good ol' guys at [H]ard|OCP have a review of the Athlon XP as well. It can be found here [].
    • While I realize that it was a show of patriotism or something of that sort (at least I HOPE there's a reason like that behind it), what is with the colours on that site? Jesus my eyes are bugging out in pain.

  • Model Numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Derkec ( 463377 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:24AM (#2406477)

    Despite the fact that there is a new core which yields 3-7% more performance per clock, Tom's points out the Model Number scheme is the most interesting thing. AMD is now not selling thier processors as 1500MHz, but instead as 'equivilant to a P4 at 1800MHz' -> an AthlonXP 1800+. Is this a fair thing to do? It seems to me that it is trying to trick customers into evaluating the processors more fairly. While most slashdotters know MHz != speed, the average joe does not. I am comforted that the AthlonXP 1800+ is able to run with the P4 2GHz. AMD doesn't seem to have overhyped their processors at all.

    The next topic for discussion: AMD is trying to bring together a third party instituation to rate processor speeds in some fair way. I'm sure Apple would be thrilled to jump on this bandwagon and our dear friends at Microsoft already have their hands in it.
    • AMD is now not selling thier processors as 1500MHz, but instead as 'equivilant to a P4 at 1800MHz' -> an AthlonXP 1800+. Is this a fair thing to do?

      The switch from MHz to product codes was a Slashdot story last month, with plenty of the usual heated discussion. This story isn't about that, though. It's about the introduction of a new processor.
    • by ldopa1 ( 465624 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:39AM (#2406576) Homepage Journal
      Is this a fair thing to do? It seems to me that it is trying to trick customers into evaluating the processors more fairly.

      Sure it's fair, I just think it's a bad idea. This ties AMD's entire branding effort to whatever Intel does. In other words, if Intel were to take the same tack, in five years we could end up with the "Intel Plentidum XXP++ 1800+++ Equiv4" and all of a sudden, the Cyrus Logic 2.5 GHz chip will look great despite the fact that the latest P7 (or whatever) is running in the 15 GHz range.

      If we were to do this with political candidates, our ballot would look like:

      George W. Bush (Equivalent to A. Gore)

      Al Gore (Equivalent to G. W. Bush)

      John McCain (G.W. Bush+)

      Ralph Nader (iMac)

      • > Sure it's fair, I just think it's a bad idea.

        Agreed. Many people will think AMD is being deceitful in order to hide some shortcoming in their chips. This will probably do more harm than good.

        Also, it makes me worry that the marketroids have taken over the reins at AMD (like they have at Intel).
    • by theAmazingTom ( 160021 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:40AM (#2406579)
      "1. Motherboards will not pass AMD validation or be posted on the AMD recommended motherboard Web site, if the frequency is displayed by the BIOS during bootup for AMD Athlon Model 6 decktop and multiproccesng processors."

      It's one thing to sell it as an 1800+ but I'd still like to know what the MHz is.
    • Re:Model Numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DivineOb ( 256115 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:45AM (#2406618) Homepage Journal
      The "proper" way to compare processors would be to use the SPEC benchmarks ( (since they are supposed to "define" processor performance). However, AMD won't use these benchmarks use them. If we look at the highest published scores from AMD we see

      Integer: 495 base, 554 peak
      FP: 426 base, 458 peak

      For P4

      Integer: 640 base, 656 peak
      FP: 704 base, 714 peak

      The athlon was Advanced Micro Devic Gigabyte GA-7DX Motherboard, 1.4GHz 1 cpu
      The P4 was Intel Corporation Intel D850GB motherboard (2.0 GHz, Pentium 4 processor) 1 cpu

      Obviously, this isn't a totally fair match (this is the most recent numbers I could find from both on this page ml) (there is no CPU2001 benchmarks... we'll probably stick with CPU2000 until 2005 or so... we stuck with the SPEC95 benchmarks for 5 years). The newer althonxps will have improved numbers, but the 1.4ghz part was beaten pretty badly (and those numbers came from AMD themselves, so their setup was optimal in their eyes).

      Anyway, there you go
      • Re:Model Numbers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:33PM (#2406947)
        This is actually a pretty awful way to measure the performance of a CPU since it's _highly_ dependent on aspects of the motherboard. The German magazine c't did a test of the Athlon XP CPU recently and tested on two different motherboards (Gigabyte and Asus, I think) - the spec scores different wildly! Neither board tested used the VIA KT266A chipset, which is known to be the fastest (in some cases, by far) of the Athlon-supporting chipsets.

        So, that test proves to NOT be a test of CPU, but of the CPU/chipset/RAM/motherboard combination, which is hardly the same thing.
        • Re:Model Numbers (Score:2, Insightful)

          by DivineOb ( 256115 )
          It may be highly dependent on the motherboard, but I hardly see that as a reason to invalidate SPEC as a benchmark suite. One of Intel's advantages to this point has been the performance of the motherboards they create. Who really cares if the AMD processor is faster 'on paper' but in any real machine it will be slower?

          If AMD doesn't like the numbers, they're going to have to bite the bullet and publish some numbers using a nonAMD motherboard. The fact of the matter is that SPEC is still the most widely industry recognized and accepted benchmark suite.

          The reason I thing SPEC is a good measure (even allowing for the issue you raised) is because the vendor has complete control over the numbers he publishes--he gets to use his choice of hardware, his compiler etc. We don't have any of these complaints that Oh quake 3 wasn't fairly optimized etc.

          Just my opinion I suppose, and I do acknowledge the large number of data streaming floating point benchmarks is going to give a processor using RDRAM and advantage, but that's just life.
          • Well, just because the SPEC tests are awful for CPU performance measurement, doesn't mean there's any single test that's good. :)

            I think the only _real_ test of performance is a comprehensive set of real-world (read here: real applications!) tests. That, too, is not a test of _just_ the CPU's performance. I don't know how you'd be able to accomplish that, aside from spouting off some simulated results.

            Unfortunately for the consumer, it's not possible to translate real-world performance results into a magic number that they can quickly or easily read to see how fast a system is. That's just life. People need to do research on things. Most people wouldn't be able to tell the speed difference between a 1gHz Athlon and a 2gHz Pentium IV system, anyway, so the point is moot for most people. Those of us who care about such things know where to go and what to look for when researching a computer purchase.

            For full systems, a SPEC score might make a small amount of sense - then Dell could advertise their SPEC scores for each system, Gateway could for theirs, etc. But for those of us who buy on a component level, it makes no sense at all. The KT266A motherboard speed improvements over the AMD 760 chipset will probably offset those SPEC scores and let them Athlon XP 1800+ come out on top of the Pentium IV 2gHz CPU. (at least until Northwood comes out).

            I guess my main gripe is that SPEC is being bandied about (even by the CPU manufacturers) as a measurement of pure CPU performance, when clearly, it is not. It's unfortunate AMD chose to publish their scores on a platform that's not the fastest. *shrug*

            I'm such a nerd in that I even care about this stuff! :)

            I'm really waiting for a DDR333 Athlon platform to come out next year. Hopefully there'll be a VIA KT333 chipset and also hopefully the Athlon 'Barton' (0.13micron Athlon platform) will have a 333mHz DDR FSB to mate to it. I've got other purchases in mind until then, assuming I ever get enough money to make them in the firstp lace.
      • Re:Model Numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

        by startled ( 144833 )
        Even SPEC is too easy to manipulate, and too far from what most users do. The only real way to benchmark a processor is by testing it with what you do the most.

        For tech-savvy users that might actually notice the speed difference, this means we have to browse the benchmarks at Anandtech, etc., and it's usually pretty easy to find a benchmark for an app identical or similar to what you spend most of your time doing (i.e. Tribes 2).

        Of course, it's likely that none of us would notice the speed difference between a P4 2.0GHz or AMD 1800+ in whatever app we're using; and it's certain that a non-power user wouldn't. Which is fine, because the non-geek isn't going to read all the benchmarks.

        So what's a computer buyer to do? Simple-- buy from whoever's cheaper. Save yourself $200, and try not to worry too much about remembering if your box is 2% faster or 2% slower than the other one as you surf the web.
      • The problem with this is that the LARGE majority of users out there do not run applications that would match the SPEC results. AMD uses benchmarks that reflect the programs used by the majority of there users (the same sort of stuff that Tom's or Anand's uses to benchmark), I don't see how this is a problem. People who want SPEC numbers know where to find them, this marketing scheme is not aimed at them.
      • It's nice to have a SPEC2001 test to look at and compare, but the SPECINT and SPECFP aren't the only results of this test. If you look at the whole reports for the P4 2GHz [] and the Athlon 1.4GHz [], you'll see that the score is based on the 12 programs. If you're looking for performance in only one type of application (as I am), you can see how the two processors compare:

        Timberwolf (300.twolf) is closest to what I do:
        Athlon=703, Intel=683 --> a 3% difference - it's fairly even.

        GCC (164.gcc) is something else I use a lot:
        Athlon=254, Intel=197 --> a 29% difference - bigger difference

        To select what test matches what you do best, you can get more info on the individual integer tests here [], and the floating point tests here []

        Still, these two applications show that the variantions from the composite 18% SPECINT and 56% SPECFP advantage the P4 has can be great.

        Also, these pages detail the hardware setup used to reproduce these tests. We can see the Athlon was tested with 256MB and an ATA66/7200 rpm drive. The Intel was tested with the same amount of RAM and the faster ATA100/7200 rpm infamous 75GXP [] drive. That may explain some of the gcc differences. Also included are the compilers to build these test programs - If you're not (or your software vendor isn't) using the Intel 5.0 compiler, then these results probably aren't as applicable to you. Still, you've got to wonder why AMD is using the intel compiler... (it has K7 optimizations, but how much work is intel going to put into then?)

        Lots more info on SPEC2001 here. []

        FYI - the difference between peak and base - from the the spec run rules []:
        "Peak" metrics are produced by building each benchmark in the suite with a set of optimizations individually tailored for that benchmark. The optimizations selected must adhere to the set of general benchmark optimization rules described in section 2.1 below. This may also be referred to as "aggressive compilation".

        "Base" metrics are produced by building all the benchmarks in the suite with a common set of optimizations. In addition to the general benchmark optimization rules (section 2.1), base optimizations must adhere to a stricter set of rules described in section 2.2. These additional rules serve to form a "baseline" of recommended performance optimizations for a given system.
      • "The 'proper' way to compare processors would be to use the SPEC benchmarks"

        No, the SPEC benchmarks are a pretty awful way of comparing processor performance. Those synthetic benchmarks are often not equivalent to real-world performance.

        The "proper" way to compare CPU's is to be an educated consumer and check out real-world benchmarks the accurately reflect the kind of software you use.

        I don't mind AMD using the "XP" equivalent rating, as long as they stay realistic/humble and use the XP-rating to EDUCATE, not OVERHYPE. So far, they're calling their 1.53ghz model an 1800. I'd say that's pretty humble/realistic, since it beats the P4 2.0ghz in the majority of benchmarks.
      • Why? Because it's all about how much the compilers can be optimized for it. Even worse, compiliers highly optimized for SPEC often produce poor code for realworld applicatios. The fact is, very little software is optimized for SSE2 anyway. Especially consumer software, which for the most part is written to the least common denominator. Without the special optimizations, Pentium 4's just don't compete well with Athlons.
    • Re:Model Numbers (Score:5, Informative)

      by silicon_synapse ( 145470 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:55AM (#2406681)
      AMD is now not selling thier processors as 1500MHz, but instead as 'equivilant to a P4 at 1800MHz' -> an AthlonXP 1800+

      Not quite right. AMD is labeling a 1500MHz processor as equivilant to how a Pentium 1800MHz based on the coming Northwood core should perform. The Northwood core will be more efficient than the P4 architecture so an AMD AthlonXP 1800 will easily outperform a P4 1800MHz but should be roughly equivilent (better still but not by as much) to an 1800MHz Northwood.
  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:24AM (#2406478)
    I think in spite of AMD's awkward marketing plan for the Athlon XP CPU's, you have to admit they are impressively fast.

    Both Anandtech and Tom's Hardware show the Athlon XP 1800+ to have pure-CPU performance that exceeds that for the Pentium 4 2,000 MHz CPU (with the exception of any program that takes full advantage of SSE2 instructions, which are still quite rare). This is a tribute to the fact that the Athlon CPU core itself is very fast, particularly the FPU unit.

    Once people realize the Athlon XP's excellent performance I think the new CPU will be a good seller.
    • For months now there have been reports that this announcement would be today, with the 1.6/1900+ tomorrow. Does anyone know if this is still likely? (or why that was expected in the first place???)

      I have $5k burning a hole in my boss's pocket waiting to order my workstation. mmm, dual athlons, 4 15krpm scsi drives, 2g of ddr, and a 21" screen. \end{\drool}


  • MP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by [amorphis] ( 45762 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:26AM (#2406496)
    From reading the various reviews, the Athlon XP doesn't seem to have SMP capability.

    Are the Athlon XP and Athlon MP essentially two lines now? It sucks to see AMD succumb to marketing in order to combat Intel.

    • At least it's smart marketing. Average Joe doesn't know of or care about SMP capabilities. Slashdorks like us know that the rating system's a sham. All I see is a divided marketing tactic for a divided market. Simple for the simple, special for the special.

    • The Athlon XP is the official name for the desktop Palimino version of the Athlon. In essence, the XP and the MP are the same processors, but I'm not sure if AMD has validated the XP processors for dual-processor use yet.
    • Re:MP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by greenfly ( 40953 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:44PM (#2407008)
      The Athlon XP uses the Palomino chipset just like the Athlon MP, so yes you can use it in an MP configuration.

      For that matter you can use an Athlon tbird in an MP configuration, but the Palominos have AMD's blessing. The HardOCP article talks about this somewhat.
    • I don't understand why the CPU is the problem with SMP. I understand that it took a while for Athlon MP chipsets to come out, but the Athlon uses the Alpha EV6 bus, and Alphas have been SMPing for years!

      Can someone explain to me (I guess in words of one syllable :P) why the stock Athlon CPU doesn't support SMP?
      • by RelliK ( 4466 )
        huh? Every singe AMD CPU from lowly Duron to the latest Athlon 4/Athlon XP /Athlon Foo supports SMP.
        • This is what I thought. People kept saying that the Athlon couldn't do MP. I thought it was just motherboard problems...

          Question. Why couldn't someone take a MP Alpha motherboard and plug a bunch of Athlons into it?
          • by RelliK ( 4466 )
            Question. Why couldn't someone take a MP Alpha motherboard and plug a bunch of Athlons into it?

            Someone did. The old slot Athlons fit in the Alpha boards and work fine. The current socket ones do not. Question is why would you want to do it? If you have an Alpha board you might as well stick Alpha CPUs in it...

      • Re:MP? (Score:2, Informative)

        by nusuth ( 520833 )
        Other guys have already told that all athlons can MP but that is not exactly true. Thunderbirds could work in a MP configuration but they did much worse than athlon MP's, sometimes even worse than single thunderbirds. So what I really wonder is how well these XPs work under SMP. I guess, since it is the same core now, there would be little or no difference in performance, but there might be issues about stability. Anyone read about XPs in SMP configuration yet?
  • by Domini ( 103836 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:28AM (#2406501) Journal
    .. would still run as sweet.

    Aparently that are following suit, with NVidia and their DetonatorXP drivers, everyone seems to be trying to get onto the WinXP hype.

    They seem to call it Extended Performance (isn't that AthlonEP then?), and sure it has 3-7% more bang for clock than the TB line.

    My only question is this, since AMDs are so popular in the linux comunity, what will the change in name do to that support? I for one don't care... :)

    Any thoughts on the name's impact?

    Anyone know what happened to UserFriendly?

  • Athlon "XP"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kreeblah ( 95092 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:28AM (#2406506)
    Erm, this is getting frightening. First we had nice, normal products. 80286. Windows 3.0. DOS 6.2. Simple to note differences, no? Then we had products which were easier to copyright the names of. Pentium. K6. Windows 95 (OK, that wasn't really for copyright; that was just for misleading people). Now we're seeing a return to the old days, except without the clarity. Office XP. Windows XP. Athlon XP. See, now companies appear to be marching in lockstep. Have the same name, and confuse the customer. I can hardly wait for the "Pentium XP" . . .
  • XP hype (Score:5, Funny)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:29AM (#2406508) Homepage Journal
    Since X-( is listed in the smiley guide as: User just died I nominate the new XP smiley to be listed as User just died of confusion (with tongue sticking out) after trying to figure out if Windows XP would run better on a machine with an Athlon XP CPU or a faster(?) Intel cpu (NOTE: Trademarks above are owned by respective companies blahblahblah)
  • This site [] is all about the processor - it was made by a friend's company and he'd love to see how it does against the /. effect. ;)
  • Subliminal story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ( 40893 )
    Am I dreaming or a story appeared on the front page and had disappeared a few seconds later when I reloaded ?
  • Now what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:35AM (#2406548) Homepage
    Ok... so, now I apparently have to stop using AMD processors after my athlon 1.4, because I won't be able to determine the true mHz that my processor is running. I don't necessarily see the reasons why this rating is masked on the XP processors... its probably ok for the average home user, but I'm not average. MhZ ratings mean something to me, because I enjoy tweaking the most from my system.

    I stopped using Intel processors a while ago, after learning that AMD's chip architecture was superior to Intel's, the choice was obvious. If you haven't read this document [], please do. It'll give you a good technical understanding of performance issues with Pentium processors compared to AMD processors.

    So, now what? I guess I'm forced into some hard choices over the specs of my next machine. It may be time to consider Intel again... I just don't know. AMD's new CPU scheme sounds really sketchy to me.
    • Re:Now what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:42AM (#2406596)
      MhZ ratings mean something to me, because I enjoy tweaking the most from my system.

      MHz ratings _shouldn't_ mean something to you in that case. You'd really pick a 2GHz CPU over a 1.8GHz model, even if the latter were 20% faster?

      Consumers in general will be fine with this change, but geeks are going to implode. Too many have made a hobby out of tracking MHz and transistor count and other meaningless numbers. Unfortunately, it's about the same as horsepower in cars. More is not necessarily better. And no one who buys a car fixates on horsepower above all else.
    • You'll still know what speed your CPU runs at. It's not like it'll be a huge secret. Go in to the CPU setup on your Abit board and it'll tell you, they just hide it during boot so normal users don't see it.

    • Re:Now what? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 )
      Excerpt from the article:

      AMD Motherboards will not pass AMD validation or be posted on the AMD recommended motherboard website if the frequency is displayed by the BIOS during bootup for AMD Athlon(tm) Model 6 desktop and multiprocessing processors.

      It'll be interesting to see how many companies release "un-approved" motherboards for the processors, and how many computer geeks buy them. I know I would.

      I don't agree with the arguement that the MhZ rating is arbitrary. Its not... there is a direct correlation between mHz and clock cycles. Clock cycles mean something to some talented computer users. By masking the mHz rating, it only obfuscates the technical aspect of the chip. Their silly rating does NOT take that away, because the chip still runs on a clock.
      • Re:Now what? (Score:3, Informative)

        Chip still runs on a clock, so what?

        No, clock cycles do not mean anything about performance to "some talented computer users." Here's why, using CPUs other than AthlonXP and Pentium4 so as not to inflame anyone:

        The old Intel 8-bit CPU used in PC/XT machines ran at 4.77 MHz (4,770,000 clock cycles per second) but this does *not* mean that it could do 4,770,000 *things* per second, because each time it needed to execute an instruction, it took several (i.e. more than one) clock cycles to do so. Furthermore, the largest numbers it could operate on natively were generally 8-bits long -- a 32-bit calculation, for example, required user code to complete, which of course meant many, many more cycles.

        The Hitachi 6309 CPU of the same time period, by comparison, ran at 2.0 MHz (2,000,000 cycles per second), but was **MUCH** faster for the same types of tasks than the Intel 8-bit CPU because it could *often* finish a complete instruction in only one clock cycle and because it had 16-bit registers and a 32-bit register and could thus do MANY types of math *natively*, in just one or several cycles, that the Intel CPU needed user code (and thus, hundreds or thousands of cycles) to complete.

        Because of these types of _architectural_ differences, clock cycles have little or nothing to do with the real speeds of different chips performing real-world tasks (which, for gamers, includes things like Quake 3). In fact, clock cycles and MHz are *the same thing*, as MHz on a CPU simply means "number, in millions, of cycles per second."

        You will find no statistical correlation between the *actual* clock speed on an AthlonXP and each of the benchmarks vs., say, a Pentium4 at 1800 MHz. Yes, one is running at ~1,500,000,000 cycles/second and one is running at ~1,800,000,000 cycles per second, but that doesn't tell you how many cycles each one is spending doing different types of tasks or (as is often the case) sitting around waiting for data from the rest of the system or from the bus.
  • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:37AM (#2406562) Homepage Journal
    The most irritating thing about AMD switching to a PR rating is most folks miss the fact that mhz vs mhz, the Pentium III blows the Pentium 4 out of the water. It all comes down to what gets used as a normal - using a P3 as the mHz reference point, you get the AMD chip wiping the P3, and the P3 owning the P4. The P4 could use a PR rating as well...

    Intel can't make it faster, but we can increase the number of cycles... can marketing do anything with that? Intel killed the PIII because the last thing they wanted was for someone to take a 1.5gHz chip and put the P3 & P4 side by side.

    Depending on how you tweak the benching and load things up, you will see strengths and weaknesses in each CPU. Priced the same, the AMD chips are a better deal for my development and gaming needs.
  • by dgb2n ( 85206 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:38AM (#2406563)
    Its very sad but AMD is essentially admitting through their marketing ploy that the average consumer is incapable of realizing that the speed of a processor and indeed a system is more than a clock frequency.

    Although virtually every reviewer pans the confusing processor labelling, I believe that it was a good business decision. With the success of the Athlon processor, AMD went a long way towards minimizing the marketing impact of "Intel Inside". Now they find themselves "burdened" with a processor which out performs its competitors significantly at a given clock speed. If they label the chip with its clock frequency they invite price comparisons to similarly clocked (but underperforming) Intel products.

    I think the new labelling scheme is actually a win for AMD. Smart consumers will buy the chips because of their superior performance, regardless of the name. "Joe 6 pack" will buy it because he can buy the AMD 1700+ system for less than the Intel 1600.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:38AM (#2406570) Homepage
    From CNNfn []:
    "In 1,000-unit quantities, the Athlon XP 1800 is priced at $252. The most recent list price for a 1.8 GHz Pentium 4 was $256. The Athlon XP 1700 will sell for $190, compared with $193 for a 1.7 GHz Pentium 4. The Athlon 1600 lists for $160, compared with $163 for Intel's 1.6 GHz Pentium 4. The list price for the Athlon 1500 is $130, compared with $133 for a 1.5 GHz Pentium 4."

    So AMD doesn't have a significant price edge on this round. That's bad for AMD; they need a price edge to win over vendors.

    Without competition from AMD, Intel CPU chips would cost around $1000. We know this because they used to cost that much. Remember when Pentium Pro CPUs cost around $1000? AMD didn't have a high-end offering back then, and Intel could get away with huge markups. That's the difference between a monopoly and competition.

    The real test will come when AMD starts shipping the Thunderbird, which is not instruction-compatible with the Intel Itanium.

    • ("Thunderbird" above should be "Sledgehammer". Sorry. Considering that I'm writing this on a Thunderbird machine.)
    • They do have a significant price edge.
      The Athlon XP 1800+ (according to all the reviews) is actually faster than the 2.0 GHz Pentium 4, which in turn is considerably more expensive.
      Of course, because of AMDs new marketing, people will think that the Athlon XP 1800+ is really comparable to the P4 1.8GHz, because they know that marketing ploys seldom are entirely accurate.
  • by deander2 ( 26173 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:40AM (#2406584) Homepage
    Has anyone heard whether or not AMD's heat problem has been solved? Reading Tom's article on what happens if your heat sink falls off really put a kink in my AMD-buying choice. I mean, it wasn't even like you had time to hit your power button - you went from 'snap' to 'smoke coming from case' in less than a second.

    No matter how much faster and cheaper they are then Intel, that's a HUGE risk to take on your system.
    • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:51AM (#2406654) Homepage
      I worry about my heatsink falling off about as much as I worry about my dink falling off, i.e.: not at all.
    • by Xibby ( 232218 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:56AM (#2406682) Homepage Journal
      Umm...if you're heat sink falls off, you have one of the following problems:

      You're and idiot and installed it wrong in the first place.

      You're system vendor is an idiot and installed it worng in the first place.

      You're motherboard is made of cheap materals

      You forced something didn't you (see 1)

      There is no good reason for your heat sink to just fall off.

    • The whole "Tom's article on the heat sink falling off" bullshit is silly. If the water pump in your car fails and you keep running it then your motor will burn up. Luckily we have temperatore gauges [] on most autos to let us know when our car is overheating.

      AMD CPU's, for the most part, kick mule all over Intel's offerings at the same rated speed. If you follow normal precautions with your CPU (i.e. fasten the heatsink properly) the likelihood of the heatsink "falling off" is next to nil.

      • Well, a car engine will take at least a couple of minutes to go from cooling failure to overheat to physical damage.

        Your car's engine won't burn up in a couple of seconds like an AMD processor will.

        With a car, you have time to pull over and shut down the engine. With an AMD, even the fastest temperature sensing system won't be able to detect it and remove power in time. Even if you knew instantly when your heat sink failed, the combination your reaction time and the delay between pressing the power button and dropping of the power supply voltage to zero would be enough time for your CPU to burn.

        As for a motherboard temperature monitor, most can only poll every 1.5 seconds or so (HW limitation). That doesn't leave enough time between when the cooling fails and when the power gets cut off. Remember also, that monitoring software and the power off BIOS calls take time, and there is also a delay between the power off bit on the MB being toggled and the power from the power supply dropping to zero.

    • What do you think will happen if your Intel heat sink will fall off?

      My motherboard will shut off if the fan dies(far more likely then your heatsink falls off) and I run soft ware that alerts me if the CPU reaches a certian temperature. It can also close down my system if I want it to.
      these two precautions need to be taken with any modern system regardless of manufacturer>

      FYI. My athlon 1.4 runs at 40c with the heat sinkan fan, and is rated above 90c.
    • by kreyg ( 103130 ) <> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:19PM (#2406862) Homepage
      Wow, if my heatsink fell off, it would fall directly on, and likely short out, my video card - which costs as much or more than my processor.

      Welcome to FUD.
    • I estimate that the probability of heatsink "falling off" is about equal to the probability of the sky "falling off"
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:45AM (#2406620)
    Cyrix used to sell their processors with a PR-rating. PR150 which tried to compete with a Pentium 150, was actually a lower MHz.

    The difference in the policy is that the Cyrix PR150 was only in _some_ applications the equal of a Pentium 150, at others (gaming) it was truly pathetic.
    The AMD Athlon XP 1800+ is in almost every regard better than Pentium IV.

    The conclusion is that, even though I wish AMD would market their processors on MHz, they are actually not overhyping their processors when stating in this marketing, like Cyrix did.
  • This is taken from: rs/quantiSpeed.pdf [] (a whitepaper about the "technical details of QuantiSpeed")

    AMD Athlon" XP processor with QuantiSpeed" Architecture Analogies
    1. Adult and Child Walking

    If a child and an adult are walking together, the child needs to take more steps to keep up with the adult. Since the adult has a longer stride than the child and travels further with each step. The child has to work harder by moving faster to try and keep up.

    2. Automobile Engines
    Two cars are in a race. The Blue Car has a 6-cylinder engine while the Green Car has a 9-cylinder engine. While the Blue Car s engine works hard in terms of high RPMs, it doesn't actually go all that fast down the road. In contrast, the Green Car s more powerful engine doesn't have to run at high RPMs. Yet on the road, the Green Car blows the doors off the Blue Car. The more powerful Green Car engine is designed to run efficiently and to deliver a faster, more powerful driving experience.

    3. Bucket and Cup
    You and a friend are out on the lake in a rowboat. At some point, you both notice that the boat is taking on water. Your friend starts bailing water with a cup while you start bailing water with a bucket. In a panic, your friend bails faster than you, but since your container is larger, you end up bailing more water in the same amount of time.

    4. Cycling
    Two cyclists ride together on 10-speed bikes. One cyclist uses the 10th gear, pedaling slower but moving faster down the road and covering more distance with each stroke. The other cyclist uses 1st gear and has to pedal like a lunatic to achieve even close to the same speed on the road and cover the same ground.

    This is what one finds by going to and clicking on any links that say "technical"

  • Im waiting for the MP version of the AMDXP chipset. After they come out with thier 2000+ procs, im upgrading from my dual P3-800. SMP is the only boxes I want to use now, going from 1ghz to a dual 800, my system doesnt hang when an application use all the cpu resources.

    I just wish I could pick up a cheap powerpc atx motherboard, and through a couple power4's in it. But for some reason IBM/Motorola doesnt want to compete against Intel in the desktop market, im denied the joy of a smp box. I have been toying with the idea of picking up an SMP Mac now that OSX is patched and running smoothly.

    Speaking of PowerPC chips, Recently /. had a nice article on the Power4 [] cpu with 2 processor cores.
    • Re:SMP (Score:3, Informative)

      by Brian Stretch ( 5304 )
      The previously released Athlon MP is the multiprocessor certified version of the Athlon XP. Faster versions of the Athlon MP are expected to be announced next week, with new dual processor motherboards (in addition to the Tyan Thunder and Tiger MP boards already on the market) expected next month.

      The Athlon4 notebook CPUs are also equivalent to the Athlon XP desktop CPUs (with the addition of PowerNOW! power management, natch). As notebook and MP-certified CPUs are higher margin parts than uniprocessor desktop CPUs and AMD had no previous MP or notebook Athlon offerings, AMD directed their new Palamino-core fabrication lines to those markets first.
  • What is the difference between whetstone and dhrystone benchmarks?
  • I think Microsoft is hurting itself by using letters instead of numbers.

    If I has Windows 7 and I saw that Windows 8 is out I would feel behind the times. If I had Windows ME and I saw Windows XP is out I would not notice so much.

    Customers are used to numbers. Sequels to movies have numbers. I think they will want to upgrade more with the old version scheme.
  • by mcdade ( 89483 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:37PM (#2406970)
    We know that marketing your product based on MHZ alone will kill it. This was seen right from the early days of the 386's. People looked at the generation of chip and the equivalent clock speed. Teck people would ignore this ask they knew real benchmarket would tell the truth.

    Look at recient times, you have a bigger gap in this problem. The G3's and G4's are clocked between 400mhz and 800mhz, but people are put off buying one cause they can get a PC with 1.2Ghz for cheaper. The G4 can be a faster chip with lower clockspeeds but people won't buy it cause all they see is 800mhz vs 1.2ghz. The bigger number in compters means it's better, everyone knows that!

    If AMD doesn't start PR rating their chips people won't buy them. They are slower and cheaper (in the mind of Joe Sixpack) so they must not be as good as an Intel.
  • bfd. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 )
    Wow, another new CPU that current RAM and bus architectures cannot keep up with. Is it just me, or does it seem we would be better off if they just got RAM, data storage and bus speeds up to snuff so that data is able to pass between the system compotents at full blast?
  • If you read the website for the giveaway, they mention it's been expanded to 20 cities from the original 6.

    While this is cool, especially since I've got shares in AMD, one wonders how many of us are really just overexcited due to the name.

    I mean, XP, that is just the hottest thing since buttered toast!

  • This is my new proposal to incorporate all the factors of a microprocessor into its product name, thus giving a more accurate and precise measure of its speed.
    Multiply all the frequencies together you can think of, i.e. 133mhz ram * 2x(ddr) * 6x clock multiplier * 266mhz FSB = Athlon 371868. If more marketing is desired, use pretend scientific notation. 37186800000000 * 10^(-8).
  • Instead, AthlonXP1800+ == theoretical 1.8 GHz Athlon Thunderbird

    (As measured by some suite of benchmarks AMD has put together, although it's not exactly clear what because they keep fouling it up and talking about the P4 in their so-called whitepaper []).

    Thus, while this may be a misguided marketing ploy destined to backfire, it is nonetheless a fundamentally fair one, strictly meant to compare Athlons to Athlons, not Athlon's to P4s!

    "Model numbers are designed to communicate the relative application performance among the various AMD Athlon XP processors, as well as communicate the architectural superiority over existing AMD Athlon processors." (From the FAQ [].)

    Thus an AthlonXP 1800+ is (supposed to be) just as much better than a 1.8 GHz P4 as a 1.4 GHz Athlon Thunderbird was better than a 1.4 GHz P4.

    (In reality this is not always so much the case, the main reason being that at higher processor speeds the chipset comes into play more, and the dual-channel RDRAM i850 for the P4 delivers more bandwidth than a single-channel PC266 chipset for the AthlonXP (eg. VIA KT266A). This advantage will be all-but-gone once PC333 chipsets hit in a few months...)

    Please get it right!
    • Everyone and their mom is comparing this to the old PR performance ratings employed by Cyrix et. al. and what a big ripoff they were, and how everyone caught on and Cyrix went out of business and so on. There are two problems with this:

      1. PR was a terrible benchmark. It was proprietary, synthetic, had little to do with real-world applications. Moreover, it was integer-only, and thus rather neatly covered up the fact that while the Cyrix CPUs were indeed faster clock-for-clock than a Pentium on integer programs, their floating point seriously sucked. In contrast, the suite of benchmarking suites AMD is using is well chosen, all based on "real-world" application benchmarks, and covers most problem domains pretty well.

      The only missing component which might be interesting to have included is SPEC, but the only new data that would really provide is how well cutting-edge, mainly-experimental compilers support each processor. On the one hand, this exclusion does tend to disadvantage the P4, since modern compilation techniques are important to top P4 performance, and eventually these techniques will make their way to mainstream precompiled applications. On the other hand, for the next couple years or so 99% of the programs consumers run will still be compiled with not-so-modern compilers (i.e. MSVC++), and as Intel now owns every single important compiler research team in the world, they may have a slightly unfair advantage here.

      In any case, this doesn't really matter because the AthlonXP rating system is comparing AthlonXPs to Athlon Thunderbirds, not P4s.

      2. PR meant "Pentium Rating", even while Intel was selling "Pentium-II"s. This is the big thing people tend to forget about the whole PR thing: it was more or less accurate (integer only, of course), but the problem was that Cyrix was trying to position a "PR250" chip against, say, a PII-266. Great, except that the PII was significantly faster clock-for-clock than the Pentium was, especially running 32-bit apps (eg. the then-newly-standard Win95). The PR thing *was* a scam, not because performance ratings are innately a scam, but because the "P" in PR confused the fact that the comparison was to an obsolete processor and not to the current competition.

      In any case, this doesn't really matter because the AthlonXP rating system is comparing AthlonXPs to Athlon Thunderbirds, not P4s.

      (sorry to reply to self, etc.)

Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -- Ambrose Bierce