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AMD Athlon 64 FX-57: Sunny San Diego
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Date: Jun 27, 2005
Section:Processors
Author: Dave Altavilla and Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction & Specifications

AMD's Athlon 64 X2 series Dual Core launch back in May, along with Intel's Pentium 840 launch in April, underscored an industry-wide move toward a completely new Desktop Processor architecture, one that affects virtually all facets of Personal Computing from code-base, applications and software, to the platforms and technology that support these new multi-core CPUs.  With Intel taking the first step with their Pentium 8XX series, and AMD stepping up with the X2, the tide has officially shifted, and the industry and community are ready to catch the wave.  However, as with any major redirection in architecture, "the wave" doesn't just appear out of nowhere.  There is typically a gradual transition involved, which is where we are today, as both Intel and AMD drive what are essentially parallel efforts launching new single core Desktop processors as well.

While Intel may be heading down the Dual Core path more definitively, with their roadmaps cutting over completely to Dual Core CPUs, AMD appears to be stepping into the Dual Core area as market requirement develops, versus firmly driving the market toward one initiative over the other.  And as Damon Muzny of AMD Public Relations likes to claim, "when you've got more MHz in the can" there is flexibility in being able to offer whatever CPU architecture best hits the market's sweet spot at the time, especially with all the single threaded applications that exist today.  For example, if you're a Gamer, there are virtually zero game titles currently available that'll truly benefit from Dual Core architectures.  That may change in the next year or so, but for now, the faster single core processors take all the top spots performance-wise in many gaming / multimedia related scenarios. 

Which brings us to our spotlight product we have for you here, the Athlon FX-57.  What does a 200MHz speed bump, a few tweaks to optimizing the memory controller and couple of new SSE3 instructions thrown in, do for what is already a blazingly fast single-core CPU? That's what we're going to show you in the pages ahead.

Specifications: AMD Athlon 64 FX-57
Tweakin' The Process...
AMD64 Feature Set-
_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 that quadruple the general purpose register space available to applications and device drivers.

_Sixteen 128-bit XMM registers for enhanced multimedia performance to double the register space of any current SSE/SSE2/SSE3 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 of L2 cache, the AMD Athlon 64 processor is 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, 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 SSE3 instruction set, which along with support of 3DNow! Professional, (SSE2, SSE and 3DNow! Enhanced) completes support for all industry standards.

_32-bit instruction set extensions.

Fab location:
_AMD's Fab 30 wafer fabrication facility in Dresden, Germany

Process Technology:
_.09 micron SOI (silicon-on-insulator) - San Diego Core

Die Size:
San Diego Core - 115mm2


Transistor count:
_San Diego Core - Approximately - 114 million


Nominal Voltage:
_1.40v

 


  

Other than the branding and product codes etched into its IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader), there's nothing new to point out with regard to the FX-57's physical appearance. But this isn't simply a speed bump. The FX-57 is based on a totally new processor core, that's got some distinct advantages over it's predecessor's design, and older version FX processors.

The Athlon 64 FX-57 is based on the relatively new "San Diego" core. If you've followed the recent progression of new Athlon 64 cores to come from AMD, you're probably familiar with the "Venice" core, which we evaluated a few weeks back (see here).  The San Diego core used on the Athlon 64 FX-57 is the same process geometry and architecture as the Venice core, but with an additional 512K of L2 cache for a total of 1MB. The San Diego core incorporates all of the same tweaks to the memory controller as well. Also AMD has integrated SSE3 multimedia instruction sets into the Athlon 64 FX-57, and have made some other additions and enhancements as well which include:

·_Mismatched DIMM support (ability to configure and use different size DIMMs on the same channel)
·
_Improved memory mapping (more efficient use of memory space)
·
_Improved memory loading (can fully populating the memory with double-bank DIMMs with no slow down)


The Athlon 64 FX-57 is also the first processor in the "FX" line to be built using AMD's .09 micron SOI manufacturing process. By moving to the smaller, more advanced .09 micron manufacturing process, AMD was able to shrink the size of the FX's die (115mm2 vs. 193mm2), while at the same time lowering its voltage requirements and max processor current. As you can see in the chart above, the new FX-57 requires only 1.35v-1.4v and draws a maximum current that's 5.1 Amps lower than the FX-55, which is built on AMD's .13 micron line.

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Test System & Vital Signs

How we configured our test systems: When configuring the test systems for this showcase, we first entered system BIOSes and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults."  The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional (SP2) was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we installed the rest of the necessary drivers and removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were disabled, and we set up a 768MB permanent page file on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests.

Test System Specifications
AMD and Intel- Stiff Competition
SYSTEM 1:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-57
(2.8GHz)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-55
(2.6GHz)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+
(2.4GHz)
(Dual Core CPU)

AMD Athlon 4000+ (2.4GHz)

ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe
(NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI)

2x512MB Corsair PC3200 Pro
CL 2-2-2-5

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
NVIDIA Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 2:
Pentium 4 670 - 3.8GHz
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition
(3.73GHz)
Pentium Extreme Edition 840
(3.2GHz)
(Dual Core CPU)


ASUS P5ND2-SLI
(nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition)

2x512MB Corsair DDR2-667
CL 3-2-2-7

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v7.02
NVIDIA Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
Athlon FX-57 Vital Signs
CPU ID Readings and Thermals

Before we put the new Athlon 64 FX-57 through its paces with our traditional suite of CPU benchmarks, we spent some time monitoring its thermal characteristics, and did a little overclocking to find out what kind of headroom was left in our particular sample. Using the hardware monitor built into NVIDIA's System Utility and a CPU-Z, we were able to capture some data points for all of you to feast your eyes upon...

  
The Athlon 64 FX-57: Stock & Overclocked Vital Signs

As you can see in the scree-shot on the left, CPU-Z properly recognized the processor as an Athlon 64 FX-57, and shows that it's a .09 micron part based on the "San Diego" core. The specification section of CPU-Z lists the processor as an "FX-25", however, which was just a simple identification problem with our motherboard's BIOS. Other than that minor issue, the FX-57 worked flawlessly. By default, the processor required only 1.4v and was clocked at 2.8GHz, but in typical Asus fashion "default" voltages and speeds were goosed slightly (1.44v / 2821MHz) on our test-bed's A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard.

If you direct your eyes to the NVMonitor portions of the screens, you'll see that the Athlon 64 FX-57 ran as cool as a cucumber (relatively speaking) while resting at idle, and didn't break much of a sweat while running with a 100% load either. At idle the FX-57 hummed along at a nice 38oC. And with Prime95 pounding on it for a while, the FX-57's temperature only jumped by 11C, and peaked at 49oC, which is a far cry from the toasty warm Pentium 4's we've seen hit temps around 65oC in the very same open-air test bench. Although Intel's recent Pentium 4 6XX sequence cores have made great strides thermally.  Regardless, it certainly seems that AMD's .09 micron SOI manufacturing process is a perfect compliment for the Athlon 64's architecture. AMD doesn't seem to be having any trouble keeping temperatures in check, even with their highest-clocked CPU yet.

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Overclocking & SiSoft SANDRA

We can't very well paint a complete picture of the Athlon 64 FX-57's full potential for you, without pushing the new core to its limits, so we overclocked our CPU by increasing it's stock 14X multiplier to 15X.  We also attempted to reach higher speeds through increasing the chip's HT link to 220+MHz but that yielded similar results with less stability overall, since this also affected memory bus speeds.  In addition, raising core voltages above 1.5V only added to the instability, so in the end we settled on a conservative stock voltage setting as our reference point for overclocking.

Athlon 64 FX-57 Overclocking Experiment
3GHz - Air Cooled, Stable

Throughout all of our overclocking efforts, a Zalman 7000B Cu cooler was installed on the A64 FX-57 CPU, and the test system was setup in an open-air environment on our lab bench.

   

When all was said and done, we were able to push our particular Athlon 64 FX-57 to a rather impressive 3.02GHz, and increase in clock speed of over 200MHz. We ran a couple of SANDRA's Processor and Multimedia benchmarks while the system was overclocked to give you a basic idea as to how the system performed, and have the results posted above. With the CPU running at a clock speed of over 3GHz, absolutely nothing in SANDRA's database of reference systems could come close in ALU performance, and only the higher clocked Pentium 4's with HT enabled were able to outpace our overclocked FX-57 in FPU performance, because these particular tests are multi-threaded. 

Preliminary Benchmarks with SiSoft SANDRA 2005
Synthetic Testing

We began our stock testing on the new Athlon 64 FX-57 with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. SANDRA consists of a set of information and diagnostic utilities that can provide a host of useful information about your hardware and operating system. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2005 suite (CPU, Multimedia, Cache, and Memory) with the Athlon 64 FX-57 installed into our test rig.  All of the scores reported below were taken with the processor and memory running at their respective default clock speeds of 2.8GHz and 200MHz CAS 2, 2, 2, 5 DDR Corsair Memory.


CPU Arithmetic Benchmark
Athlon 64 FX-57

Multimedia Benchmark
Athlon 64 FX-57

Memory Benchmark
Athlon 64 FX-57

The Athlon 64 FX-57 completed all of our SANDRA benchmarks as we had expected it to. With this being the highest clocked Athlon 64 processor released to date, we expected the FX-57 to smoke all of the singe-CPU reference numbers in integer performance (ALU), and true to form only the HT enabled Pentium 4 processors should post better floating-point numbers (FPU), which is exactly what happened in the Processor Arithmetic and Multimedia tests. In the Memory Bandwidth Benchmark though, the FX-57 with its revamped memory controller also performed very well, hovering at or around the 6GB/s mark in both portions of the test.

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PCMark04: CPU & Memory

 

We'll continue on briefly with more synthetic benchmark testing, which on its own isn't a true measure of real-world performance. However, it does complement a well-rounded benchmark perspective of overall performance within a given system architecture.  PCMark04 is next.

Futuremark PCMark04
More Synthetic CPU and Memory Benchmarks

"The CPU test suite is a collection of tests that are run to isolate the performance of the CPU. There are nine tests in all. Two pairs of tests are run multithreaded - each test in the pair is run in its own thread.  The remaining five tests are run single threaded. These tests include such functions as file encryption, decryption, compression and decompression, grammar check, audio conversion, WMV and DivX video compression."

PCMark04's CPU performance module is a multi-threaded benchmark, which is why the HyperThreading enabled Pentium 4s, the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840, and Athlon 64 X2 4800+ put up such impressive scores. The Athlon 64 FX-57 performed very well, besting the FX-55 and 4000+ by impressive margins, but it's not clocked quite high enough to overtake any of the CPUs that are capable of processing simultaneous multiple threads.


The following are details of the types of tests run by PCMark04's Memory Test Module.


"The Memory test suite is a collection of tests that isolate the performance of the memory subsystem. The memory subsystem consists of various devices on the PC. This includes the main memory, the CPU internal cache (known as the L1 cache) and the external cache (known as the L2 cache). As it is difficult to find applications that only stress the memory, we explicitly developed a set of tests geared for this purpose. The tests are written in C++ and assembly. They include: Reading data blocks from memory, Writing data blocks to memory performing copy operations on data blocks, random access to data items and latency testing."

The memory performance module incorporated into PCMark04 wouldn't cooperate with either our X2 4800+ or Athlon 64 FX-57.  The new memory controller integrated into Athlon 64 processors based on the Venice and San Diego cores seem to choke on the "Raw Block Write 8MB" portion of the test, hence the pair of WNRs in the graph above. We explained this problem to AMD, and they were unable to replicate it, but our test systems crashed consistently on this test.  We're still investigating this further but AMD claims they were able to complete the test on their test bed using the identical motherboard and BIOS versions we tested with.

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Content Creation Winstone & WB5 Office XP

To get this next batch of results, we used Veritest's Content Creation Winstone 2004 suite.  Before running these benchmarks, we patched the program to its latest version (v1.01), shut down any unnecessary background processes, and defragged the hard drive.

Content Creation Winstone 2004
Real-World Workstation Application Performance

The Veritest Content Creation Winstone 2004 test utilizes the following applications in its benchmark routine. For more information about this test, see this page:

  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.50
  • Macromedia Director MX 9.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

The Athlon 64 FX-57 outclassed every other processor we tested in the Content Creation Winstone 2004 benchmark. With it's score of 42.3, the FX-57 outperformed the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ by about 7.3% and smoked the fastest Intel processor - the 3.73GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition - by almost 20%. We'd also like to note that this is the highest non-overclocked CC Winstone 2004 score we have seen to date.

PC World's World Bench Office XP Module
More Real-World Application Performance

PC World Magazine's WorldBench 5.0 is a new breed of Business and Professional application benchmark, poised to replace the aging and no-longer supported Winstone tests in our benchmark arsenal. WorldBench 5.0 consists of a number of performance modules that each utilize one or a group of popular applications to gauge performance.  Below we have the results from WB 5's Office XP module, recorded in seconds.  Lower times indicate better performance.

The Athlon 64 FX-57 also performed quite well in WorldBench 5's Office XP module. In this test, only the 3.8GHz Pentium 4 670 was able to eke out a better score, but it took a 1GHz clock speed advantage to do it. Regardless of the results though, any of the processors tested her are more than capable of running Office XP with exceptional performance.

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WB5 PhotoShop 7 & WME 9

As probably one of our more popular desktop professional application tests, WorldBench 5's Photoshop 7 test module is next.

PC World's World Bench 5.0: Photoshop 7 & Windows Media Encoder
Image Processing and Video Encoding Performance

The Athlon 64 FX-57 simply burned through WorldBench 5's PhotoShop performance module. With a time of 276 seconds, the Athlon 64 FX-57 finished the test a full 25 seconds faster than its closest competitor, the FX-55. The Athlon 64s completely dominated the Pentium 4s here, which obviously makes them the better choice for users who do a lot of image editing with this popular application.

We continued our testing with WB5's video encoding benchmark based on Windows Media Encoder 9.  In the Windows Media Encoder 9 portion of the WorldBench 5 suite, encoding times are again recorded in number of seconds to complete a conversion to Windows Streaming Media format.  Lower times indicate better performance.

WorldBench 5's Windows Media Encoder test is multi-threaded, so it benefits greatly from a from a dual-core or Hyper-Threading enabled processor. In this benchmark, the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ was the clear victor, followed by the Athlon 64 FX-57. The FX-57's added SSE3 instructions, updated memory controller, and clock speed increase really help it to shine in this test, as it edged past all of the Intel processors we tested and was dramatically faster than the Athlon 64 FX-55 and 4000+.

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LAME & Cinebench 2003

In our custom Lame MP3 encoding test, we convert a large digital audio file to the MP3 format, which is a very popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content.  In this test, we chose a large 223MB WAV file (a never-ending Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format.  We utilized the latest 3.97 version of the Lame executable and encoding DLL for this test. Processing times are recorded below. Shorter times equate to better performance.

LAME MP3 Encoding Test
Converting a Large WAV To MP3

The new Athlon 64 FX-57 continued its winning ways with our custom LAMP MP3 encoding benchmark. It's updated memory controller and clock speed advantage allowed it to surge ahead of the previous top dog, the Athlon 64 FX-55, by a full 9 seconds. It also outpaced the fastest Intel processor in this test by 16 seconds. This may not sound like much, but a few seconds here an there add up to minutes or hours saved when ripping an entire collection of CDs.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

We ran two sets of numbers with Cinebench, one in single-thread mode and another in the benchmark's multi-thread mode. Please note that single-core Athlon 64s are only capable of running the single-thread test, hence the missing blue bar graphs in the chart below for all but the new Athlon 64 X2 CPU. Hyper-Threading-enabled Pentium 4 and Dual Core Pentium EE 840 processors, as well as the new Athlon 64 X2 4800+, are fully capable of running this test in its multi-thread mode, however.

Clearly, Cinebench 2003 runs much faster in its multi-thread mode, as is evident by the sub-45 second times posted by the Pentium EE 840 and Athlon 64 X2 4800+, but the Athlon 64 FX-57 still performed incredibly well in this test. The FX-57's time-to-complete of 66.3 seconds was, by far, the fastest, non-overclocked, single threaded time we have ever seen in this test.

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KribiBench v1.1

Next up, we ran the Kribibench rendering benchmark produced by the folks at Adept Development.  Kribibench is an SSE aware software renderer.  A 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU, and the average frame rate is reported.  We used two of the included models with this benchmark: an "Exploded Sponge" model consisting of over 19.2 million polygons and then its enormous "Ultra" model that comprises over 16 billion polygons.

Kribibench v1.1
3D Modeling and Rendering Performance

 

The two dual-core processors we tested, the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and the Pentium Extreme Edition 840, crushed their competition in the KribiBench software rendering tests we ran. Disregarding the dominant performance of the dual-core CPUs though, we see that the Athlon 64 FX-57 posted the best framerate in the "Sponge Explode" test when compared to other single-core processors, but it finished just a hair behind the Pentium 4 670 and 3.73GHz P4 EE with the hugely complex "Ultra" model, which can probably be attributed to the benefits of Intel Hyperthreading.

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3DMark05: CPU Test

It may not be an actual game, but 3DMark05's built-in CPU test is a DirectX-based game engine metric that's useful for comparing relative performance among similarly equipped systems.  This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer, which is very much dependant on the host CPU's performance.  This means that the processing loads normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the host processor.  The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.

Futuremark 3DMark05 - CPU Test
Simulated DirectX Gaming Performance

3DMark05's CPU performance module is yet another multi-threaded benchmark that benefits from the capabilities of a multi-core or HyperThreading enabled CPU, hence the strong performance of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the Athlon 64 X2 4800+. If you look past those results though, you'll see that the Athlon 64 FX-57 outpaced all of the other single core processors by margins ranging from 1.6% to 19.5%.

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Unreal Tournament 2004

Next we delved into the gaming side of things a bit and performed some low-resolution benchmarking with Epic's Unreal Tournament 2004.  We specifically used a "Low-Quality" game setting with UT2004, which allowed us to isolate CPU and memory performance with little burden on the graphics subsystem.

Unreal Tournament 2004
Legacy DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

 

Just to give you a glimpse of how fast the Athlon 64 FX-57 is while overclocked to 3GHz, we've included those scores in the graph above and the proceeding graph on the next page for our Doom 3 tests.  In our custom, low-res Unreal Tournament 2004 benchmark the Athlon 64 FX-57 smoked the competition by a minimum of 8.8%, and it just plain embarrassed the Pentium Extreme Edition 840. With the FX-57 overclocked to 3GHz, its performance jumped by about 9 frames per second and it almost broke the 200 FPS mark.

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Doom 3 Gaming

For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom multi-player Doom 3 timedemo. We cranked the resolution down to 640 x 480 and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Doom 3 typically taxes today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at these minimal settings it's more CPU and Memory-bound than anything else.

Benchmarks with Doom 3
OpenGL Gaming Performance

 

The results from our custom Doom 3 benchmark mirrored what we saw with Unreal Tournament 2004. Once again, the Athlon 64 FX-57, whether it was overclocked or not, surged past the competition, and proved that the A64's reputation for being the best processor for gaming is well deserved. While overclocked, we witnessed our very first Doom 3 framerate over the 200 FPS mark in this test.

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Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: The AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 proved to be an "extreme" performer in multiple categories. The benchmarks were a clear indication of the Athlon 64 FX-57's superiority for running programs like PhotoShop, or the other applications that comprise the Content Creation 2004 suite, where the FX-57 posted the highest score we have seen to date. Our custom in-game tests also ran very well on the Athlon 64 FX-57, where it again posted the highest non-overclocked framerates we have ever encountered. Only in a few synthetic and multi-threaded tests, like Cinebench 2003 for example, did any other CPU rival the performance of the Athlon 64 FX-57. If you look past the benchmark scores as well however, the Athlon 64 FX-57 was also an excellent performer with regard to its thermal characteristics. Although at 2.8GHz this is the highest clocked CPU AMD has ever released, it requires less voltage than its predecessors to function, and it ran quite cool throughout all of our testing.

We can summarize our thoughts on the new AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 with one word - Fast! In every benchmark we ran, the Athlon 64 FX-57 finished at, or near, the top of the charts. The revamped memory controller, 200MHz bump in clock speed, and SSE3 support clearly all contribute to the FX-57 and make it quite the performer. It seems that this CPU perfectly caters to its target audience. AMD has always marketed the FX line of processors to hardcore enthusiasts and gamers who want the fastest processor money can buy, with the freedom to tweak their systems as well. With its unlocked multiplier and excellent performance in single-threaded applications, AMD has delivered just that, with a tweakable CPU that easily hit 3GHz using simple air cooling. And of course it smoked every other processor we tested in our custom in-game benchmarks.

The Athlon 64 FX-57 also runs much cooler than competitive products from Intel.  It also requires less power and runs cooler than the FX-55 it supplants as AMD's flagship single-core desktop CPU. The new San Diego core, which is manufactured on AMD's .09 micron SOI line, has overall better overall power consumption and thermal characteristics versus any single core Athlon 64 FX to date. In short, AMD's San Diego core does what you'd expect from a die shrink; it lowers power requirements and temperatures while affording higher clock speeds. Finally, as you saw in our overclocking section, this core has some clock speed headroom to spare.

There is something we're not too enthused about through, and that's the Athlon 64 FX-57's price tag. In lots of 1000, the Athlon 64 FX-57 is priced at $1,031. The FX-55's price in the same 1K quantities will remain at $827. Unlike the FX-53 launch, where AMD phased out the FX-51, AMD will continue to sell the FX-55 now that the FX-57 is also available. We know enthusiasts always pay a premium for top-of-the-line products, but we were hoping AMD would take the FX's price down a few notches now that the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors have arrived. When you think about it, an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ is essentially comprised of two of the same San Diego cores used in the FX-57, and yet it commands roughly the same price. AMD is clearly marking up the FX-57 with considerable margin. Then again, when you've got the fastest single-core CPU in your product line-up, we suppose you can charge whatever you want for it.

Even though the benchmarks prove the Athlon 64 FX-57 is an excellent performer, before dropping money on a processor like this, you must first assess how you'll utilize the system, to be sure it's the right choice.  If you're a gamer, don't multitask often, and want the best performance possible, the FX-57 is an excellent option if you've got the coin to burn. But if you're the type of user who is constantly running multiple applications, you may be better served by a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 CPU. Plus, as time goes by, and more multi-threaded applications are released, dual-core processors will begin to outperform single-core processors in many more situations. This probably won't be the case for at least 12 to 18 months however, so for now being "single" and in Sunny San Diego is a pretty good situation overall.

_Best of class performance
_Relatively cool operation

_Manageable power requirements
_Overclocked to 3GHz w/ air cooling
_Works on existing platforms
_Less expensive total platform cost
_Hefty price
_Single core CPU

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