AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+

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About a month after Intel officially unveiled their flagship Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor, the crown jewel of their initial dual-core Pentium D processor line-up, AMD revealed their inaugural assortment of dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors, which included the current flagship Athlon 64 X2 4800+. After assessing the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor's performance with a variety of applications, we found it to be an extremely powerful processor, that excelled at many tasks. And we were also impressed that AMD was able to deliver a high-end dual-core processor that worked with most of the existing enthusiast-class socket 939 motherboards available, after nothing more than a simple BIOS update.

The Athlon 64 X2 4800+, and the 4600+, 4400+, and 4200+ announced that day were on some level the antithesis of Intel's dual-core offerings. Whereas Intel's dual-core processors required an additional purchase of a motherboard based on a compatible chipset that could handle the increased power requirements of the new CPUs, and perhaps new DDR2 RAM, AMD's dual-core processors just worked with the existing platform and had a max thermal power only slightly higher than the single-core Athlon 64 FX-55. One area where Intel did have a marked advantage over AMD, however, was price. The Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and Athlon 64 X2 4800+ were priced similarly at over $1000 a piece, but Intel's fastest Pentium D was priced about the same as AMD's "slowest" Athlon 64 X2 at about $550, and low-end Pentium Ds were available for about $250.

AMD's dual-core processors were undeniably desirable, but with a minimum cost higher than some complete entry-level PCs, justifying the purchase of one of these processors would be difficult for many enthusiasts. Today though, AMD is taking the wraps off of a brand new Athlon 64 X2 processor, that's priced well below their existing offerings, the Athlon 64 X2 3800+.

Specifications: Socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 3800+
The More Affordable X2
AMD64 - When utilizing the AMD64 Instruction Set Architecture, 64-bit mode is designed to offer:

__Support for 64-bit operating systems to provide full, transparent, and simultaneous 32-bit and 64-bit platform application multitasking.

__A physical address space that can support systems with up to one terabyte of installed RAM, shattering the 4 gigabyte RAM barrier present on all current x86 implementations.

__Sixteen 64-bit general-purpose integer registers (per core) that quadruple the general purpose register space available to applications and device drivers.

__Sixteen 128-bit XMM registers (per core) for enhanced multimedia performance to double the register space of any current SSE/SSE2 implementation.

Integrated DDR memory controller:
__Allows for a reduction in memory latency, thereby increasing overall system performance.

An advanced HyperTransport link:
__This feature dramatically improves the I/O bandwidth, enabling much faster access to peripherals such as hard drives, USB 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet cards.

__HyperTransport technology enables higher performance due to a reduced I/O interface throttle.

Large level one (L1) and level 2 (L2) on-die cache:
__With 128 Kbytes of L1 cache and 512K or 1MB of L2 cache per core, the AMD Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 processors are able to excel at performing matrix calculations on arrays.

__Programs that use intensive large matrix calculations will benefit from fitting the entire matrix in the L2 cache.
64-bit processing:
__A 64-bit address and data set enables the processor to process in the terabyte space.

__Many applications improve performance due to the removal of the 32-bit limitations.

Processor core clock-for-clock improvements:
__Including larger TLB (Translation Look-Aside Buffers) with reduced latencies and improved branch prediction through four times the number of bimodal counters in the global history counter, per core, as compared to seventh-generation processors.

__These features drive improvements to the IPC, by delivering a more efficient pipeline for CPU-intensive applications.

__CPU-intensive games benefit from these core improvements.

__Introduction of the SSE2 instruction set, and now SSE3 (Rev. E and Athlon 64 X2) which along with support of 3DNow! Professional, (SSE and 3DNow! Enhanced) completes support for all industry standards.

__32-bit instruction set extensions.

AMD's Athlon 64 X2


We've put together a simple chart for you all, comparing the main features of the new Athlon 64 X2 3800+ to another AMD dual-core processor, Athlon 64 X2 4800+, and the last two single-core Athlon 64 FX processors, the FX-55 (.13 micron) and FX-57 (.09 micron).

The Athlon 64 X2 3800+

If you look closely at the chart above, you'll notice that the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 3800+ differs from the dual-core Athlon 64 4800+ in a number of ways, other than just its clock speed (2.0GHz vs. 2.4GHz). First off, the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ has half of the amount of L2 cache as the 4800+ (but the same amount as the 4600+ and 4200+, not listed here). The Athlon 64 X2 3800+, however, is also based on a completely new core. It's not just a 2MB (1MB x 2) core, binned with less cache. The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ has a smaller die, that was intentionally built with 512KB of L2 cache per core, for a total of 1MB of L2 cache. And as such, it's comprised of fewer transistors and has a die size that's significantly smaller than previous Athlon 64 X2 processors. This in-turn makes the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ less expensive to produce overall, because AMD can yield more dice per wafer at the fab. This new core also has a much lower max thermal power than previous Athlon 64 X2 processors (89 watts vs. 110 watts), so its total power consumption and thermal output will be lower than the initial batch of Athlon 64 X2 processors as well.

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