and Chris Angelini
February 10, 2003
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
break the 3GHz barrier and bring their Hyper-Threading
technology to the desktop. We also saw
seize the 3D performance crown with the introduction of
the Radeon 9700 Pro, and saw
try to regain that crown with the announcement of their
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.
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+
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.
ANY IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VIEW
ATHLON XP 3000+
ATHLON XP 2700+
Bottom Side View
Key Architectural Features of
the AMD Athlon? XP Processor Include:|
Architecture for enhanced performance
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
- Advanced hardware
- Exclusive and
speculative Translation Look-aside Buffers
- Advanced dynamic
Professional technology for leading-edge 3D operation
- 21 original 3DNow!?
instructions?the first technology enabling
- 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
- Support for 64-bit
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.
infrastructure designs are based on high-performance
platforms and are supported by a full line of
optimized infrastructure solutions (chipsets,
- Available in Pin
Grid Array (PGA) for mounting in a socketed
- Electrical interface
compatible with 333MHz AMD Athlon XP system buses,
based on Alpha EV6? bus protocol
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