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AMD Sempron 3400+ Launch
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Date: Aug 01, 2005
Section:Processors
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Product Specifications

For years, AMD has been a growing thorn in Intel's side.  Early on, AMD had a much smaller market share than the elder silicon giant, but as the years progressed, AMD's foothold grew.  By continually introducing new products that compete directly with Intel's product line, AMD has grown to be a formidable foe for the incumbent chip maker.  Fast forward to today and you have a thriving company that not only competes on the same level as Intel, but manages to surpass them in many respects.

In July 2004, AMD added the budget CPU sector to their hit list, taking on Intel's Celeron line with the Socket A based Sempron 2800+ and Socket 754 based 3100+.  Then in April 2005, AMD added to the Sempron line with the 3300+ socket 754 which was produced using a refined 90nm manufacturing process.  Designed to take on the fastest Celeron processors available at the time, then clocked at 2.8GHz, the 2GHz Sempron 3300+ beat the Celeron hands down in the majority of tests.  Now, less than four months later, AMD delivers their first budget 64-Bit processor in the form of the Sempron 3400+.  With 256KB of L2 cache, 128KB of L1 cache and running at 2GHz, the Sempron 3400+ aims to stay on top of the budget CPU sector with its performance and features.

We should note that Intel technically beat AMD to the 64-Bit punch in the budget CPu segment, with the release of the 64-Bit Celeron D line on June 27th. However, as of the writing of this article, availability of the 64-Bit Celeron D's is limited, as several of the larger online retailers are not currently offering Intel's 64-Bit Celeron D.  So, at this time no performance scores were included but we hope to update this in the not-to-distant future.

Specifications of the Sempron 3400+
The Next, and Only, 64-Bit Value CPU


Model / Frequency / Cache:
3400+ / 2.0GHz / 256KB L2 cache (and standard 128KB L1 cache)

CPU to Memory Controller:
2.0GHz

Memory Controller:
Integrated 64-bit wide memory controller

Types of Memory:
PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 and PC3200 DDR unbuffered memory

HyperTransport Links:
1

HyperTransport Spec:
1.6GHz (2x 800MHz / DDR)

Effective data bandwidth:

9.6GB/sec [6.4GB/sec x1 HyperTransport link + 3.2GB/sec memory bandwidth]

Packaging:
754-pin organic micro-PGA

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

Process Technology:
90nm (.09-micron) Silicon on Insulator (SOI)

Approximate Transistor count:
63.5 million

Approximate Die Size:
84mm2

Nominal Voltage:
1.40 V

Max Thermal Power:
62 W

Max Icc (processor current):
40.6 A

Max Ambient Case Temp:
69 degrees Celsius


When we line up the Sempron product line side-by-side, the differences are easier to discern.  The like the 3300+, the Sempron 3400+ is built on their 90nm manufacturing process.  When AMD made the move the Sempron to their 90nm line, they not only introduced SSE3 instruction support to the Sempron line, but AMD also implemented changes to the memory controller as well.  These enhancements improved both memory mapping and memory loading while adding support for mismatched DIMMs.

The major "physical" difference between the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+ is the 3400+'s 256KBof L2 cache compared to the Sempron 3300+'s 128KB L2 cache.  Each processor shares the same 2GHz clock speed, 128KB L1 cache and memory bandwidth.  The biggest "feature" difference is the added support for 64-Bit computing with the Sempron 3400+.  The 64-Bit ready Semprons are identifiable by the last two characters in the OPN.  If the processor OPN ends with "BO" or "BX", this designates the processor as a 90nm, 754 Pin x86-64 Sempron Processor.  With Commercial PC's utilizing a 64-Bit Sempron processor, manufacturers will clearly mark the machines as having a Sempron with AMD64 Technology.

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CPU-Z, Thermal Readings and Overclocking

Comparing the Line-up with CPU-Z
A Detailed Comparison

When we reviewed the Sempron 3300+ back in April, the main comparison was against the Celeron D 2.8GHz processor.  This time around, AMD hasn't designated a direct Celeron model to compare to the Sempron 3400+.  Since the Sempron 3400+ builds on the successes of the Sempron 3300+, the Sempron 3300+ is a better comparison from a performance and feature standpoint.  Below we enlisted CPU-Z to shed some light in the inner qualities of the Sempron 3400+ while including the Sempron 3300+ as a frame of reference.

AMD Sempron 3400+ @ 2.0GHz AMD Sempron 3300+ @ 2.0GHz

The first thing you'll notice is that CPU-Z's database hasn't been updated to recognize the new 64-bit Sempron.  In fact, the latest BIOS code for our test bed hasn't been updated to reflect the 64-Bit ready Semprons either.  Instead, CPU-Z identifies the CPU as an unknown Athlon 64 based on the Hammer core.  That aside, the rest of the information is accurate, with the most notable features being x86-64 support and 256KB of L2 cache.  The rest of the picture goes hand-in-hand with the characteristics of the Sempron 3300+.

Thermal Readings with NVMonitor
Loaded and Unloaded Temperature Readings

Using NVMonitor, we sampled the temperature readings of AMD's Sempron 3400+ at idle and when running the processor at a 100% load.  For the fully loaded test, we ran Prime95 concurrently with SiSoft SANDRA's Burn-In test, selecting the CPU tests with a High Priority level.  At both idle and loaded tests, we left the system in each respective state for a full 30 minutes before logging the temperatures.

At idle, the Sempron 3400+ settled in at 29C with +/- 1C variation at most.  Under load, the temperature climbed by 9C to 38C with the same +/-1C variance.  As the graphs show in both cases, once the target temperatures were reached, the picture was even across the board.  Overall, the Sempron 3400+ is a low power CPU that runs very cool even under extreme CPU load.

Overclocking AMD's Sempron 3400+
What We Expected

Before getting into full fledged benchmarking, we took a few moments to see what kind of overclocking potential the Sempron 3400+ had.  Back when we reviewed the Sempron 3300+, our results were moderate at best.  Seeing how the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+ are so similar, we expected similar performance this time around.

    

As it turned out, our expectations were accurate. The Sempron 3400+ yielding similar overclocking potential to the Sempron 3300+.  In this case, we managed to raise the clock generator to a maximum stable speed of 230MHz.  This increased the Sempron 3400+ from 2GHz to 2.30GHz, a nominal increase of 300MHz or 15%.  Anything higher and our particular test bed became unstable.  Even slowing our memory well below spec or raising CPU voltage had no effect on our peak results.

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HotHardware Test Bed and SANDRA

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tried to ensure that all of our test systems were configured as similarly as possible.  Both the Sempron and the Celeron test systems were equipped with identical hardware, with the obvious exceptions being the motherboards and processors.  The video cards, hard drives, memory, driver versions (where applicable), and OS configurations were identical.  Before we started benchmarking, we entered the system BIOS and set each board to its "optimized defaults."  We then configured our RAM to run at DDR400.

The hard drives were then formatted and Windows XP Professional (SP2) was installed.  Then we installed all 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.

HotHardware Test Bed
Covering The Bases
System 1:
AMD Sempron 3400+ (2.0GHz)
MSI K8N Neo Platinum
NVIDIA nForce 3 250Gb
2X256MB Kingston PC3500
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
Onboard Audio
Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM
Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Unified Driver v5.1
NVIDIA ForceWare v77.72
DirectX 9.0c
System 2:
AMD Sempron 3300+ (2.0GHz)
MSI K8N Neo Platinum
NVIDIA nForce 3 250Gb
2X256MB Kingston PC3500
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
Onboard Audio
Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM
Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Unified Driver v5.1
NVIDIA ForceWare v77.72
DirectX 9.0c
System 3:
AMD Sempron 3100+ (1.8GHz)
MSI K8N Neo Platinum
NVIDIA nForce 3 250Gb
2X256MB Kingston PC3500
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
Onboard Audio
Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM
Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Unified Driver v5.1
NVIDIA ForceWare v77.72
DirectX 9.0c
System 4:
Intel Celeron D 335 (2.8GHz)
ABIT AI7 865 Motherboard
Intel 865 Chipset
2X256MB Kingston PC3500
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
Onboard 10/1000 Ethernet
Onboard Audio
Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM

Windows XP Pro SP2
Intel Chipset Drivers v6.3.0.1007
NVIDIA ForceWare v77.72
DirectX 9.0c

SiSoft Sandra 2004

AMD Sempron 3400+ @ 2.0GHz.

CPU

Multimedia

Memory

Cache

AMD Sempron 3300+ @ 2.0GHz.

CPU

Multimedia

Memory

Cache

Running the common CPU, Multimedia, Memory and Cache modules in SiSoft Sandra was rather uneventful.  Like CPU-Z, we referenced the Sempron 3300+ as it is the closest match to the Sempron 3400+.  In fact, as the results show, the two processors' synthetic performance results were virtually identical in all four tests.  We never saw any major differences in performance throughout each test, only further confirming that, aside from L2 Cache and 64-Bit support, the two CPUs are very similar.

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Futuremark PCMark05 & 3DMark05 - CPU Testing Module

FutureMark PCMark05
More Synthetic CPU & Memory Benchmarks

We continued our synthetic testing with PCMark05, the latest all-in-one benchmark to be released from the team at FutureMark.  Here we focused on CPU and Memory performance, comparing the results to a Sempron 3300+, 3100+ and Intel Celeron D 335.

When we compare the results with the CPU module, we found the Celeron D 335 to offer the highest performance, besting all three Sempron processors.  Of the AMD chips, the Sempron 3400+ was the top performer, slightly beating out the 3300+ with half of the L2 cache.  Memory performance was also reporting the strongest results with the Celeron D 335, with the Sempron 3400+ being the fastest of the three Sempron processors.  Note how the quantity of L2 cache has an apparent effect on the memory performance results in PCMark05.  In SANDRA, the memory scores were identical, but with PCMark05, the scores imply that memory performance is slower with the Sempron 3300+ and its 128KB of L2 cache compared to the Semprons 3100+ and 3400+ outfitted with 256KB of L2 Cache.

3DMark05 - CPU Testing Module
DirectX Gaming Performance

While 3DMark05 is typically used for benchmarking graphics cards, it's also versatile enough to isolate testing to the CPU, making it a useful tool for testing CPU and motherboard performance.  In this round of tests, we ran 3DMark05's CPU test exclusively, logging the results with each processor.

With 3DMark05's CPU performance module, the Sempron 3400+ took the top spot, beating the Sempron 3300+ by roughly 200 3DMarks.  The Sempron 3100+ was the slowest of the three Semprons, trailing the 3400+ by 466 3DMarks.  Interestingly, PCMark05's testing procedures show Intel's Celeron D 335 as being the best performing CPU, yet 3DMark05's CPU module lists it as the slowest overall performer, hampered by its low 28KB of L1 cache.

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CC Winstone 2004 & WB 5.0: Photoshop 7 & Office XP

Content Creation Winstone 2004
Real-World 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

With Content Creation 2004, the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+ were effectively tied at an average of 27 points.  As the results demonstrate, L2 Cache isn't a factor when comparing Semprons of the same clock speed in this test. The Sempron 3100+ weighed in a few points slower while the Celeron D trailed the most by over 5 points.

PC World's World Bench 5.0: Photoshop 7 & Office XP Modules
More Real-World Application Performance

PC World Magazine's WorldBench 5.0 is the latest Business and Professional application benchmark to be added to our arsenal of testing programs.  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 WorldBench 5's Photoshop 7 and Office XP modules, recorded in seconds.

With WorldBench 5's Photoshop testing, the Sempron 3400+ was best equipped for the task, topping the 3300+ by 10 seconds.  In the Office XP SP2 module, the variance was tighter at 3 seconds, still favoring the Sempron 3400+.  These two modules seem to benefit from the higher L2 complement when comparing the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+.  The Celeron D 335 was significantly slower in the Photoshop test, trailing the Sempron 3400+ by 83 seconds.  The Office XP SP2 module wasn't as drastic, but still had the Celeron D 335 trailing by 47 seconds overall.

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WB 5.0: Windows Media Encoder 9 & LAME MP3

We continued our testing with WorldBench 5's Windows Media Encoder 9 module followed by LAME MP3.  In each test, times were recorded in seconds with lower times indicating better performance.

WorldBench 5.0: Windows Media Encoder 9 Module
More Digital Video Encoding

Rounding out the WorldBench 5 testing, we continued to see a similar picture with Window Media Encoder 9 testing as we did with the other two modules.  Once again, the Sempron 3400+ was the best performing processor followed by the Sempron 3300+.  We also continued to see a significant lag with the Celeron D, which was out-performed by all three Sempron processors by a minimum of 21 seconds when compared to the Sempron 3100+ and 73 seconds compared to the Sempron 3400+.  We also saw a slight advantage in favor of the Sempron 3400+ over the Sempron 3300+, adding up to 6 seconds overall.

LAME MP3 Encoding Test
Converting a Large WAV To MP3

LAME MP3 continued to show the dominance of AMD's Sempron processor line over the Celeron D.  The Sempron 3300+ beat the Celeron D 335 by 14 seconds, while the Sempron 3400 added 3 seconds to that difference.  Even the Sempron 3100+ running a full 1GHz slower than the Celeron D 335 managed to just beat the Intel chip by 4 seconds.

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Kribibench v1.1 and Cinebench 2003

Next up, we ran the Kribibench rendering benchmark produced by Adept Development.  Kribibench is an SSE aware software renderer that renders and animates a 3D model and reports the average frame rate.  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 is comprised of over 16 billion polygons.

Kribibench v1.1
Details: www.adeptdevelopment.com

Both the Sponge Explode and Ultra models were dominated by the Sempron 3400+ with the Sempron 3300+ up there as well.  The Sempron 3100+ even held its own, trailing the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+ by a fraction of a frame in both models.  When comparing the entire picture, the Celeron D 335 weighed in again with the slowest performance and the broadest difference among the four processors.  Once again, L2 cache was a minor factor.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on the commercially available Cinema 4D application.  This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds).  Naturally, we are only going to be reporting Single-Threaded performance with these four economy class processors.

Similar to what we've been seeing up to this point, the Sempron 3300+ and 3400+ were the best all around performers followed by the Sempron 3100+ and the Celeron D.  The Sempron 3300+ was fractionally slower than the Sempron 3400+, while the Sempron 3100+ trailed by approximately 10 seconds.  The Celeron D closed out the Cinebench testing with the slowest overall score.

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Benchmarking with Doom 3 and Half-Life 2

Benchmarking with Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004
Low-Res Gaming Test

Another way to measure CPU performance is to run a series of game benchmarks with low resolution settings.  With reduced resolutions and effects detail, demand drops on the graphics subsystem significantly.  This essentially takes the graphics card out of the equation, with the scores being more representative of CPU and Memory performance.  For this segment we utilized Doom3 and Unreal Tournament 2004 to assess performance.  In both instances, each game was set to 640x480 with reduced image quality settings in game.

While they are both completely different games, the performance with Doom3 and Unreal Tournament 2004 followed the same pattern.  In both cases, the Sempron 3400+ showed that gaming tests benefited from the additional L2 cache when compared to the Sempron 3300+.  In fact, this is made clearer as the Sempron 3100+ was closer in performance to the Sempron 3300+ in Doom3.  With Unreal Tournament 2004, the differences were more staggered, following a stair-stepped pattern.  Once again, the Celeron D 335 was out gunned throughout these two tests.

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Performance Summary and Final Words

Performance Analysis:  The synthetic testing we started off with created more questions than answers.  PCMark05 listed the Celeron D 335 as the best performing test bed in both CPU and Memory performance, while 3DMark05's CPU module had the three Semprons in the lead, with the Sempron 3400+ out in front.  As we progressed through our battery of tests, all of the other real-world benchmarks reported the Sempron line as being superior to the Celeron D 335 in terms of performance.  We're not sure why PCMark05 seems to contradict its counterpart, but in the end, there is no substitute for real world testing.  Whether we weigh gaming performance, real-world application testing or video/audio encoding, the Sempron 3400+ didn't skip a beat, returning the best results every time.

With the release of the Sempron 3300+, AMD got a leg up on Intel, delivering the best performing budget CPU at the time.  Today, the picture is not as cut-and-dried with the release of the Sempron 3400+.  For one, Intel beat AMD to market with the first 64-Bit ready budget processors, delivering a complete 64-Bit budget product line with the Celeron D 351, 346, 341, 336, 331 and 328.  In July, AMD updated the current Sempron line to support 64-Bit, cuminating with the introduction of the 3400+ Sempron.

The main advantage of the Sempron 3400+ is backward compatibility, as a simple BIOS update is the only requirement.  To take advantage of the Celeron D with 64-Bit support, users will require an Intel 910 based chipset at minimum, raising the upgrade cost considerations for those with older chipsets.  Factor in spotty availability of the latest 64-bit enabled Celeron Ds, and the Sempron 3400+ seems to be in a good position to reach a broader market.  The Sempron 3400+ processor's price point is attractive as well, weighing in at $134 in 1000 unit lots.  This competes well with Intel's fastest 64-Bit Celeron, the 3.20GHz Celeron D 351, which retails for $130 in retail channels and can have additional upgrade costs.

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