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AMD's 'Newcastle' Budget Athlon64 Chips Analyzed 266

Edward Scissorhands writes "CNET reported on Thursday that AMD had released a new "budget" Athlon64 CPU. Appearing on the AMD roadmap under the codename of "Newcastle", these chips are identical to the 754-pin Athlon64 3200+ in every way except for the size of their L2 cache (512KB vs. 1MB). CNET suggests that some of these chips may be 3200's that don't pass QA as having full 1MB caches. Newcastle chips are about half the cost of their 1MB cached counterparts, though preliminary benchmarks from Anand indicate favourable performance/price."
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AMD's 'Newcastle' Budget Athlon64 Chips Analyzed

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  • Looks like AMD.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cK-Gunslinger ( 443452 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:09PM (#7788573) Journal
    .. has another winner on their hands. Excellent performance at a fraction of the price. 2 GHz, 64-bit performance for about $200 is nothing to sneeze at. Bring on the 64-bit apps/drivers! (And, of course, the MS OS.)
  • by 3DKnight ( 589972 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:10PM (#7788583)
    after 2004, the 754-pin sockets will make way for their new 939-pin sockets. AMD has said that they will continue upgrades for 754-pin 64-bit chips up to i think 3700+ After that you will need to buy a 939 pin motherboards. Though I wonder what the shelf life for the 754 pins are, since not that many programs can even make use of 64bit cpus yet.
  • by cK-Gunslinger ( 443452 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:14PM (#7788611) Journal

    That's pretty standard practice in hardware manufacturing. It also explains the reasons why some hardware (Radeon 9500, etc) can be "unlocked" and turned into the real thing. They don't actually test "every" part at first, just samples of a batch. If X% fail the full spec, the entire batch is remarked as reduced-spec parts. They they are individually tested at the lower spec. It stands to reason that a certain number of these part would have passed the more rigorous full-spec tests, thus us "cheap" buyers can sometimes get lucky and get a nice piece of hardware for a small price.

  • by dilvie ( 713915 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:20PM (#7788662) Homepage Journal
    This is good news. The next month or so will be a great time to buy those boring 32-bit CPU's that nobody cares about anymore. Moore's law rocks.
  • by Henk Poley ( 308046 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:25PM (#7788698) Homepage
    Could this become the new 'dual celeron' like a couple of years ago?
  • by manganese4 ( 726568 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:32PM (#7788750)
    Given current mechanical properties of the materials that encase the actual chip, the connections from the chip to the pin and the ability to insert chip into a motherboard, is there any impending barrier to the number of pins for future chips?
  • by Bun ( 34387 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:33PM (#7788757)
    Tell me about it. With a resistor mod [], and a quick BIOS flash [], I turned my 9500 into a FireGL X1. Doesn't OC at all well any more, but it was still worth it. Rock stable with everything I could test it....maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket instead.... ;-)
  • Re:AMD is overpriced (Score:4, Interesting)

    by voss ( 52565 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:45PM (#7788866)
    Maybe on taste tests(youre not supposed eat THOSE chips) , but most real world tests show the Athlon 64 3200 going neck and neck with the P4EE (a jury rigged chip with 2mb of cache that sells for $974 on pricewatch. The only way a pentium 4 2.8 could outperform an athlon 64 is if the Athlon 64 was on a PCchips motherboard and I think the Athlon would beat the Pentium 4 2.8 even then! :P
  • by andy666 ( 666062 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:46PM (#7788884)
    In Moby Dick, Newcastle is an assistant to the navigator who does all the computations.
  • by dorlthed ( 700641 ) <mxc511.psu@edu> on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:48PM (#7788902)

    I like this idea, and from a product-line standpoint, it's a good one. After the Athlon XP line started, I sort of missed the situation with the Thunderbird/Duron, where there was always a low-priced alternative for budget systems.

    Perhaps now they will create a sort of "64-bit Duron," a lower-priced and less-powerful version of the Athlon 64. This way, in the future, if I want to create a bargain version of a AMD64 computer for a family member or friend, or buy one, there is a cheaper processor available for such a system.

    I sort of missed having that alternative available; this creates a bit of processor nostalgia for me :p

  • hmmm.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:49PM (#7788905) Journal

    These 'reject' chips might be the reason Emachines offers such a cheap 64 bit computer. []

  • by The One KEA ( 707661 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:03PM (#7789062) Journal
    Yes, but conversely Linux can take advantage of it - SuSE, Mandrake, Red Hat and Gentoo all have functioning offerings available for purchase or download.

    The only game I know of off the top of my head is Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003.

    Either way, the Athlon 64 3000+, IMO, might just be what AMD is looking for to really break into the market. If the price goes below $200, then things will definitely start to get interesting for Intel.
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:28PM (#7789344)
    Evergreen made such an upgrade kit for 486 systems that allowed a low end Pentium CPU to run with the 486's motherboard limitations. They are still around and some info can be foun at their website []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:34PM (#7789416)
    I have no particular beef with Intel, btw, it's just that AMD always seem to aim more at value for money. I like that :-)

    I have no pariticular beef with Honda, btw, it's just that Yugo always seem to aim more at value for money.

    You get what you pay for (*).

    * - AMD Processors tend to run hot, suck more power, and the AMD hintsinks and fans are really poor quality compared to Intel. And in certain applications that really stress a CPU the AMD's tend to lag behind.
  • by steveoc ( 2661 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:41PM (#7789483)
    Dont you just love the way that AMD dropped this 64bit chip on the market - WITHOUT WAITING FOR MICROSOFT TO CATCH UP - Like, trust that Linux support alone will be enough to push this thing into the low-end 64bit market.

    And its selling like hot cakes - so the market is proving them right.

    Maybe it is a sign of things to come - hardware vendors pushing forward and bringing real innovation back into PeeCees, knowing that Linux alone will be there to support the innovations, and that Linux support is enough to drive sales.

    Remember how back in the good old days, Hardware makers (Commodore, Atari, Apple, etc) were free to introduce radical new hardware every 12 months, with no regard to operating software portability - they knew that the software guys were capable of keeping up back then.

    The current situation, with Microsoft being the sole supplier of OS's means that any new hardware has to conform to some horrid, and aging 'standard' invented back in the 80's, simply because Microsoft seems to be incapable of keeping pace with innovations in hardware.

    Well done AMD - for daring to break the status Quo, and for sticking one up Microsoft at the same time.
  • by ProtonMotiveForce ( 267027 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:50PM (#7789567)
    They can release 256 bit processors if they want, it doesn't mean anything to your garden variety desktop user unless it's faster at running 32-bit code (which is sometimes the case, admittedly).

    The 64-bit thing is a bragging rights gimmick and doesn't do anything for the vast, vast majority of desktop users out there, who don't even have 1G of memory much less 3-4G. What's funny is people are actually buying into it.
  • Re:AMD is overpriced (Score:3, Interesting)

    by raodin ( 708903 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:26PM (#7789899)
    I've found that Tom's benchmarks almost never line up with what the rest of the hardware sites are reporting. Now... Which is more likely fudged a bit. A single, large hardware site, or just about every other hardware site on the net?
  • by steveoc ( 2661 ) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:44PM (#7790054)
    True, but from what I have seen with Windows on AMD64 :

    1) The 32 bit mode performance is pretty impressive anyway (so AMD were clever to hedge their bets here)

    2) The performance of Win32 code on Win64 base is WORSE than Win32 code on Win32 base using this processor.

    I dont trust Microsoft to fully support x86-64 till Intel comes to the party as well.

    Keep in mind, that if Linux never existed, then Microsoft would hold all the cards, and would be in a position to sink this chip if they wanted to. Microsoft mouthing support for x86-64 is a reaction to Linux being able to support it. They are playing follow-the-leader now, which is a significant change to the status quo.

    If that was not the case, and Linux did not exist, then it would have been way too risky for AMD to try this on. They would have put their resources into a cheaper/better/faster Athlon 32bit core.

    My point is that I believe we have reached a significant milestone here, where Microsoft no longer calls the shots to hardware vendors, and that as a result of this change, hardware vendors can feel safe to finally break away from the awful, restricted PeeCee architecture over time, since Linux support will allow such new architectures to be instantly useable.

    I also doubt that Windows, being so deeply tied to that old architecture, will find it increasingly difficult to keep pace with such changes .. so, bring em on, I say.

    I cant wait to go into a PeeCeeSoftware shop after Longhorn is out and see the titles on the shelves. Are we going to have 8 different shelves, with 'Win98 / WinXP / Win2K / Longhorn32 / Lornhorn64 / .NET CLR / XBox / XBox2' titles. I cant wait for the support calls to start rolling in. What about businesses that 'Need' to standardize on Longhorn64-Office, but also need to keep support up for some legacy WinXP apps which dont run under Longhorn64 for whatever reason. Microsoft's stock answer will be to push complete and uncompromising migration to Longhorn. I cant wait to see the confusion and resentment this is going to cause.

    This is also going to add a lot of additional burden onto any proprietry software vendor, making support and porting a lot more complex than it already is. Are we likely to see the average Windows developer in a couple of years time having 4 different PC's on each desk just to keep pace with this mess ? Im buying shares in KVM manufacturers I reckon.

    Just watch for China in the coming years to introduce something way better, simpler, and cheaper in the way of architecture and even CPU design. If it only runs Linux, that will suit them well - they can leapfrog the Windows-laden west in 1 easy step. They have the tech and the political will to be able to do this.

    Its also quite possible that such a rapid advance in mass-market architecture can happen BEFORE Longhorn hits the market, which will really splash some water into the frying pan. Microsoft's long term outlook is pretty fucked up now.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @01:15AM (#7792416) Journal
    Just wait till you see the next generation clippy :).

    Seriously though, 2GB+ RAM can be very useful if you are using virtual machines. Opening a suspect attachment/file in a quarantine virtual machine (then rollback to pristine condition) etc. Once you start doing this sort of thing the RAM and disk space can start being used up pretty quickly.

    Pity AMD doesn't seem to have added better support for virtualization to their AMD64 chips.

    Apparently the PowerPC supports full virtualization - you can run a VM in a VM and it won't even know. Whereas with x86 and AMD64 you can't do that without resorting to a lot more emulation.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.