A Closer Look At Sempron
To familiarize us with the new Semprons, AMD provided several review samples to get acquainted with. The first was the Socket A 2800+, followed by a 754-pin 3100+. On the outside, each processor looks quite similar to its respective Socket A and Socket 754 counterparts. The 2800+ has the same familiar packaging we've seen with the Athlon XP for years now. As we stated earlier, the processor comes with 128KB L1 cache and 256KB L2 cache, running at 333MHz FSB with a multiplier of 12X. Currently, the 2800+ is the fastest of the Socket A Semprons with a speed of 2GHz.
Just when we thought the Thoroughbred core was on its way out, AMD appears to have found new life with the core in Sempron. But whether this is really a value really depends on how you look at it. For example, the Sempron 2600+ is slated at a $79 price point, which competes with a Celeron 2.66GHz processor that sells for around $92. However, for the same price as the Sempron 2600+, you can buy an AthlonXP "Barton" 2500+ with twice the L2 cache and identical clock and bus speed. So, while the Semprons may be a cost-effective alternative to the Celeron line, the best value currently lies with the Barton 2500+. How long that will last, however, is anyone's guess as the Athlon XP line is slowly phased out.
The Sempron 3100+ Socket 754 is the only one of its kind, although plans for additional Socket 754s and Socket 939s are surely in the works. The 3100+ runs at 1.8GHz, coinciding with the clock speed of an Athlon 64 2800+. Both have the same 128KB L1 cache, but the Sempron 3100+ sports 256KB L2 cache, while the Athlon64 2800+ comes with 512KB L2 cache. The other major difference is that the 3100+ processor supports 32-bit instructions only.
The Sempron 3100+ is aimed to sell at a $120 price point, whereas the Athlon 64 2800+ typically retails for around $165. For $45 less, you can get an Athlon Sempron 3100+ with half the L2 cache and no 64-bit instruction capability, geared toward workstation-type environments. Some users may find $45 to be a small savings to sacrifice the ability to support 64-bit OSes in the future, while forfeiting 256KB of L2 cache, as well. The Sempron 3100+ may be capable, but the added cost for the Socket 754 2800+ may be a small price to pay for longevity. Nevertheless, with the introduction of Socket 939, availability of Socket 754 Athlon 64s in the long term is questionable. We should also keep in mind that once the initial release of the processors is complete, prices are sure to drop, making the value decision a bit more definitive.
From a competitive standpoint, the Sempron 3100+ doesn't match up to any of the Intel Celerons currently on the market, leaving it in a class by itself.