AMD Athlon XP 3000+

The AMD Athlon XP 3000+ - Page 1

The AMD Athlon XP 3000+:
A 2.16GHz CPU with 512K L2 Cache
Has AMD Done Enough to Take The Speed Crown From Intel?

By, Marco Chiappetta
and Chris Angelini
February 10, 2003

Calendar year 2002 was a great one for the computer geek.  The economy may not have performed very well, but most of the major players in PC Hardware were on a roll, unleashing a myriad of new products and technology.  In 2002, we saw Intel break the 3GHz barrier and bring their Hyper-Threading technology to the desktop.  We also saw ATi seize the 3D performance crown with the introduction of the Radeon 9700 Pro, and saw NVIDIA try to regain that crown with the announcement of their GeForce FX.  AMD made the switch to a .13 micron copper manufacturing process and officially brought a 333MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) to the Athlon XP.  We also got our hands on NVIDIA's nForce 2 chipset, Serial ATA hard drives and a host of other goodies.  Like we said, 2002 was a great year.

Likewise, 2003 will most certainly bring us even more exciting technology.  The 3D wars are going to heat up again, with ATi and NVIDIA releasing new GPUs/VPUs and fending off new DX9 parts from quite a few different manufacturers.  Intel and AMD aren't sitting idle either and are sure to lock horns again, with both companies poised to make the switch to a 90 nanometer manufacturing process and launch new processor lines.  Today on HotHardware.Com, we're going to take a look at AMD's latest desktop CPU, the Athlon XP 3000+, which is targeted squarely at Intel's top-of-the-line 3.06GHz CPU.  With the Athlon XP 3000+, AMD ushers in their new "Barton" core, along with a new logo that should help consumers identify systems powered by these new CPUs..  The "Barton" core improves upon the already excellent "Thoroughbred-B" by doubling the amount of full-speed L2 cache, bringing the total amount of on-die cache up from 256K to 512K.  Back in January '02 Intel did the same thing with the introduction of the "Northwood" Pentium 4s and, when all was said and done, the P4 was rewarded with 10-30% performance gains across the board.  Will AMD have similar success with their new flagship processor?  Lets find out...

Specifications of the AMD Athlon XP 3000+ Processor
Refine the Process and Up the Cache...

The image at the far left is a hi-resolution scan of the AMD Athlon XP 3000+.  Right next to it is an Athlon XP 2700+.  Both of these CPUs appear to be very similar with the only difference being the larger core found on the 3000+.  The underside of each processor was identical.  We haven't gotten any official word from AMD, but we suspect the 3000+, like all of their previous Athlon XPs, will be ship in both brown and green "flavors".  As we've mentioned in previous review, the packaging color used, has absolutely no impact on performance.



ATHLON XP 3000+ 


Bottom Side View


Key Architectural Features of the AMD Athlon? XP Processor Include:

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!? instructions?the 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 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98 operating systems

333MHz AMD Athlon? XP processor system bus enables excellent system bandwidth for data movement-intensive applications

  • Source synchronous clocking (clock forwarding) technology
  • Peak data rate of 2.7GB/s
  • Support for 64-bit bi-directional data

The AMD Athlon? XP processor with performance-enhancing cache memory features 64K instruction and 64K data cache for a total of 128K L1 cache. 512K of integrated, on-chip L2 cache for a total of 640K 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 333MHz AMD Athlon XP system buses, based on Alpha EV6? bus protocol

Die size: approximately 54.3 million transistors on 101mm2. Manufactured using AMD's state-of-the-art 0.13-micron copper process technology at AMD's Fab 30 wafer fabrication facility in Dresden, Germany.

Above we have a side by side comparison of the new "Barton" core and the "Thoroughbred-B" (click the cores for an enlarged view).  As you can see, the "Barton" core is significantly larger than the "Thoroughbred", in fact it's about 21% larger.  The enlarged die size is attributed to the increased transistor count with the added on-chip cache.  The new "Barton" core is comprised of about 54.3 million transistors, as opposed to the approximate 37.6 transistors that make up the "Thoroughbred".  Unfortunately, with increased die size, comes increased cost and last time we checked, silicon wafers weren't exactly cheap.  However, their are some inherent benefits to having a larger die, besides the obvious performance increases and lower latency associated with having more on-die cache memory.  We'll explain this a little later.

In addition to forthcoming clock speed boosts, "Barton" CPUs have added on-chip cache at its disposal. Specifically, This new Athlon core, has 512K of 16-way set associative L2 Cache. This added cache should also provide a boost in performance, in applications where large amounts of data are being sent to the processor and swapped out to main system memory. Simply put, with twice the L2 cache of the older "Thoroughbred" cores, the new "Barton" core can run a larger chunk of code out of its on-chip cache resources, versus having to fetch it from system memory. The Pentium 4 Northwood core has had 512K of L2 cache for a while now, it's good to see AMD squeezing this into the die map.

(ATHLON XP 2700+ thermal & power characteristics, listed to right in red)

The Athlon XP 3000+ has power requirements and thermal output, very similar to that of an Athlon XP 2700+.  The more astute among you will also notice that the 3000+ also has the same clock speed as the 2700+, 2.16GHz (13x166MHz).  AMD had to change their naming convention scale to reflect the performance increases the larger cache brings to the Athlon XP.  Something very interesting to note is that even with approximately 16.7 million more transistors, the Athlon XP 3000+ operates at the same core voltage as the 2700+, yet its typical Thermal Power output and typical current draw is lower.  It seems AMD has further refined their .13 micron copper manufacturing process, which should allow the "Barton" to operate at lower temperatures in most circumstances.

More Processor Info & Overclocking

Tags:  AMD, Athlon, XP, AM

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