AMD Sempron 2800+ & 3100+ Review

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Introduction To Sempron

Today, avid computer enthusiasts have their pick of some of the best computer hardware ever made available to the public.  Processors and graphics cards have truly matured in the past few years, giving the general public computing power to do just about anything.  Whether you're a hardcore gamer or you want to develop your own independent film, the power to get the job done is now within reach. 

But not everyone is a power user.  For every enthusiast looking to build a serious dream machine, there are the mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who simply want to run common office applications, surf the Web, or play MP3s. While it may not garner all of the attention of the power-user market, the value-class PC market is thriving in its own right.  Today, you can get a PC with enough power to handle the basic computing needs of the casual user for as little as $400.

Typically, when we look under the hood of the majority of these value-based machines, however, we find an Intel Celeron processor at the core. But AMD has recently had some major success chipping away at Intel's armor, and today they aim to chip even further by returning to the value processor arena.  AMD's current presence in the value market, the Duron line of processors, has been around for years but generally hasn't been a popular choice with OEMs, giving Intel the major market share.

Today, in an attempt to give users an alternative to Intel's budget processor, AMD unveils their latest value-minded processor, the "Sempron."  The goal is to offer a cheaper competitor to Intel's Celeron line while competing on the same performance level.  To start, AMD has released a complete line of Socket A models, as well as a single socket 754 offering.  For review today, AMD has provided us with a Sempron 2800+ Socket A and a 3100+ Socket 754 to get a taste of what they have to offer.  We'll take a closer look at the details of the newest AMD additions, then we'll line them up in the benchmarking arena and see how they perform.  The focus will be on general performance, gauging each processor's ability to handle the day-to-day computing needs of the budget-minded PC user.

Technical Details of the AMD "Sempron" Processor Line
New Kids On The Block

AMD Sempron Processors (SOCKET A):

Packaging:
Socket A: 2200+, 2300+, 2400+, 2500+, 2600+, and 2800+

Manufactured:
Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany

Process Technology:
130 nanometer technology

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

FSB:
333MHz FSB

Cache Sizes:
256KB (exclusive) L2 cache; 128KB L1 cache

Voltage & Heat Dissipation:
62W Max

Die Size:
84 mm2

Transistors:
Approximately 37.5 million

Frequency:
2800+ 2.0GHz
2600+ 1.833GHz
2500+ 1.750GHz
2400+ 1.667GHz
2300+ 1.583GHz
2200+ 1.5GHz

Price:
1K units:
2800+ ($103)
2600+ ($79)
2500+ ($69)
2400+ ($52)
2300+ ($45)
2200+ ($39)

Chipsets:
NVIDIA, SiS, and VIA

Motherboards:
ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Biostar, Shuttle,

ECS, Leadtek, Abit, EPox

AMD Sempron Processor (SOCKET 754):

Packaging:
Socket 754:
3100+ 

Manufactured:
Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany

Process Technology:
130 nanometer SOI (silicon on insulator) technology

Memory:
64-bit integrated memory controller - 3.2GB/sec

HyperTransport Links:
Supports single link - up to 6.4GB/sec per link I/O bandwidth

Effective data bandwidth:
Up to 9.6GB/sec (HyperTransport plus memory bandwidths)

FSB:
1600MHz System Bus

Cache size:
256KB (exclusive) L2 cache; 128KB L1 cache

Voltage & Heat Dissipation:
62W Max

Die Size:
144mm2

Transistors:
Approximately 68.5 million

Frequency:
1.8GHz

Price:
$120 for 1K units

Chipsets:
NVIDIA, SiS, and VIA

Motherboards:
ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Biostar, Shuttle,

ECS, Leadtek, Abit, EPox


Below is a chart showing how AMD expects the new line of Sempron processors to compare with the current line of Celerons.  While the Celeron has the advantage with the clock and bus speeds, AMD takes the lead in the cache arena with 128KB of L1 cache compared to the Celeron's 16KB.  AMD has had a lot of success with the increased cache in their designs, and we have no reason to believe this won't hold true with the Semprons, as well. The Sempron 2200+ and 2300+ are not listed here because there is no direct Celeron competitor.

The Socket 754 3100+ meets the same cache requirements as its Socket A brothers, with the only difference being the FSB.  Like the Athlon 64 line, the 3100+ doesn't have an FSB in its design, but rather utilizes the HyperTransport link with integrated memory controller. In reality, however, the effective performance would be equal to a system bus of 1600MHz.

Upon further inspection of the Semprons, some of you may have noticed that they bear a striking resemblance to the Athlon XP Thoroughbred processors.  In fact, they follow the same design, including a 130nm process and L1 and L2 cache complement.  AMD has increased the FSB to 333MHz and decreased the multiplier.  Below, we put together a quick chart showing the similarities between the two processor lines.

In essence, the majority of the new Sempron family appears to be a rework of existing equipment, save the 3100+.  What was once the premier processor for AMD has now found new life in the value-based computer market.  Next, we'll take a closer look at each processor and then we'll get ready for some benchmarking.

Tags:  AMD, review, view, pro, IE, Sempron, AM

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