The AMD Athlon XP 2700+ With The nForce 2
The Athlon Gets a BUS Speed Increase & A Killer New Chipset

By, Marco Chiappetta
October 1, 2002

It seems like some rivalries will never die.  History is riddled with intense rivalries that people will never forget.  Sports fans have the Yankees versus the Red Sox and Ali versus Frasier, and techies like you and I have Intel versus AMD!  The rivalry between Intel and AMD gets even more intense, with today's introduction of two new CPUs, the Athlon XP 2700+ and the Athlon XP 2800+.  What makes things even more interesting is that not only did AMD increase the clock speed of these new Athlons to 2.17GHz and 2.25GHz respectively, but they have also raised the Front Side Bus frequency by 25%, from 266MHz to 333MHz. 

Enthusiasts and analysts have been pressuring AMD for months, almost begging them to reconsider their position, and increase the FSB on their high-end CPU.  Thankfully, AMD listened... or was it all part of the plan?

Specifications of the AMD Athlon XP 2700+
333MHz System Bus and a Core Clock Speed of 2.17GHz


Key Architectural Features of the AMD Athlon XP Processor:

  • QuantiSpeed Architecture for enhanced performance

  • Nine-issue superpipelined, superscalar x86 processor microarchitecture designed for high performance

  • Multiple parallel x86 instruction decoders

  • Three out-of-order, superscalar, fully pipelined floating point execution units, which execute x87 (floating point), MMX and 3DNow! instructions

  • Three out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined integer units

  • Three out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined address calculation units

  • 72-entry instruction control unit

  • Advanced hardware data prefetch

  • Exclusive and speculative Translation Look-aside Buffers

  • Advanced dynamic branch prediction

3DNow! Professional technology for leading-edge 3D operation:

  • 21 original 3DNow! instructionsthe first technology enabling superscalar SIMD

  • 19 additional instructions to enable improved integer math calculations for speech or video encoding and improved data movement for Internet plug-ins and other streaming applications

  • 5 DSP instructions to improve soft modem, soft ADSL, Dolby Digital surround sound, and MP3 applications

  • 52 SSE instructions with SIMD integer and floating point additions offer excellent compatibility with Intel's SSE technology

  • Compatible with Windows XP, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows NT 4.x operating systems

266MHz AMD Athlon XP processor system bus enables excellent system bandwidth for data movement-intensive applications:

  • Source synchronous clocking (clock forwarding) technology

  • Support for 8-bit ECC for data bus integrity

  • Peak data rate of 2.7GB/s

  • Multiprocessing support: point-to-point topology, with number of processors in SMP systems determined by chipset implementation
    Support for 24 outstanding transactions per processor

Other Architectural Elements:

  • The AMD Athlon XP processor with performance-enhancing cache memory features 64K instruction and 64K data cache for a total of 128K L1 cache.  256K of integrated, on-chip L2 cache for a total of 384K full-speed, on-chip cache.

  • Socket A infrastructure designs are based on high-performance platforms and are supported by a full line of optimized infrastructure solutions (chipsets, motherboards, BIOS). Available in Pin Grid Array (PGA) for mounting in a socketed infrastructure Electrical interface compatible with 266MHz and 333MHz AMD Athlon XP system buses, based on Alpha EV6 bus protocol

  • Die size: approximately 37.6 million transistors on 84mm2. Manufactured using AMD's state-of-the-art 0.13-micron copper process technology.

Today's launch isn't only about the introduction of some new Athlon XP's with higher clock speeds, and a faster front side bus (FSB), however.  This is also the first chance we've had to actually test a motherboard based on NVIDIA's recently introduced nForce 2 chipset.



The board we used with the Athlon XP 2700+ was a pre-production Asus A7N8X supplied to us by AMD.  The nForce 2 brings a host of features to the table like AGP 8X, DDR400 support and a high speed connection between the North and South bridge using AMD's HyperTransport protocol.  In previous conversations we've had with NVIDIA, we were told the nForce 2's memory controller had been significantly enhanced over the first nForce.  Preliminary numbers were showing notable performance increases over the competition.  Needless to say we were eager to get our hands on a board for testing.  As you'll see later, it was worth the wait.

The Setup, Processor ID and Overclocking