one year ago,
AMD Athlon processors based on the "Thunderbird" core,
were reaching the end of their lifespan. The
"Thunderbird" had long been a favorite of the enthusiast
community. It was priced very competitively and
performed on par, or better than anything Intel had to offer
at the time. AMD wasn't done giving Intel a hard time
yet, however. They introduced a new version of their
immensely popular CPU based on a new core dubbed "Palomino".
With the new "Palominos", AMD incorporated a few key
enhancements that would further increase the overall
performance of their CPUs. These enhancements
included, support for Intel's SSE instructions, improved
hardware data pre-fetch circuitry, improved look-aside
buffers and an on-die thermal diode. Even with the new
features, the "Palominos" used less power, which in turn
produced less heat. AMD also began manufacturing their
CPUs using organic packaging, instead of the dated ceramic
packaging used in previous generations. Today, AMDs "Palomino" has
come to a similar fate. They have reached their so
called "end of life" and are about to be replaced by the new
core on the block, AMD's "Thoroughbred".
AMD hasn't really enhanced the core with the
"Thoroughbreds". The only thing new about these CPUs
is the .13 micron manufacturing process used to build them
(The older "Palominos" were built on a .18 micron process).
Building CPUs on a .13 micron process has a few inherent
benefits though. The .13 micron wafer fabrication
technology makes for a significantly smaller die size versus
the older .18 micron based "Palominos". This smaller the
die, requires less power and should allow this new core to
scale to much higher clock speeds. The CPU we'll be
looking at today, is AMD's latest in the Athlon XP line, that
is now based on the "Thoroughbred" core, the 2200+.
The Athlon XP 2200+ is clocked at 1800MHz. using the same
133MHz. DDR (266MHz. effective) bus as the "Palominos".
What do you say we get a little closer look and see what
really makes this CPU tick?
Specifications of the AMD Athlon XP 2200+
A .13 Process And A
Few More Clock Cycles!
The Athlon XP 2200+ we tested was packaged in brown organic
material (scanned below). AMD will eventually produce
all of their CPUs using green packaging. Don't worry
if you get a brown CPU though, the color has absolutely no
bearing on performance.
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR
Key Architectural Features of the AMD Athlon? XP Processor:
Architecture for enhanced performance
superpipelined, superscalar x86 processor
microarchitecture designed for high performance
parallel x86 instruction decoders
out-of-order, superscalar, fully pipelined floating point
execution units, which execute x87 (floating point), MMX?
and 3DNow!? instructions
out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined integer units
out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined address calculation
instruction control unit
hardware data prefetch
speculative Translation Look-aside Buffers
dynamic branch prediction
3DNow!? Professional technology for leading-edge 3D
3DNow!? instructions?the first technology enabling
instructions to enable improved integer math calculations
for speech or video encoding and improved data movement
for Internet plug-ins and other streaming applications
instructions to improve soft modem, soft ADSL, Dolby
Digital surround sound, and MP3 applications
instructions with SIMD integer and floating point
additions offer excellent compatibility with Intel's SSE
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:
synchronous clocking (clock forwarding) technology
8-bit ECC for data bus integrity
Peak data rate
Multiprocessing support: point-to-point topology, with
number of processors in SMP systems determined by chipset
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.
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 AMD Athlon XP system buses, based on Alpha
EV6? bus protocol
approximately 37.5 million transistors on 80mm2.
Manufactured using AMD's state-of-the-art 0.13-micron
copper process technology.
In the picture
above, we compare the "Palomino" core to the new
"Thoroughbred" core. This scaled, side-by-side
comparison shows the differences between the two cores very
well. The on-die L2 cache was brought down to what is the
bottom of the die plot above and the rest of the core was
simply shrunk down, with the help of the new manufacturing
process. As you can see, the .13 micron "Thoroughbred"
core is significantly smaller than the "Palomino", 80mm2
versus 128mm2. This is a physical
size reduction of 37.5%. AMD can now produce more dies
per wafer, which should lower prices and increase
availability as the process matures and yields increase.
A physical reduction in size is not the only benefit...
illustrates the lower voltage requirements and thermal
output. The current high-end "Thoroughbred" requires
1.65v for nominal operation, which is about 6% lower than
the slower clocked Athlon XP 2100+. Something I'm sure
all of you overclockers out there will like to hear, is that
AMD has plans to produce all future Athlons using the .13
micron manufacturing process. That means we'll soon be
seeing Athlon XP "Thoroughbred" CPUs, at 1467MHz on up.
We haven't tested one just yet but we suspect these lower
clocked "Thoroughbred" based Athlons will have major
headroom for overclocking.
Processor ID and Overclocking