Late in August, AMD announced the Athlon XP 2600+ and 2400+ processors, running at 2.13 and 2.0GHz, respectively. We say announced because the 2400+ only recently became available for public consumption, and the 2600+ is still nearly impossible to find. Nevertheless, roughly one month later, both the Athlon XP 2700+ and Athlon XP 2800+ are ready for public consumption.
Now, it may seem silly for AMD to continue announcing processors, considering the current plight of the Athlon XP 2600+. The debut of the 2700+ and 2800+ represents more than just another frequency increase, though. Mainly, both chips support a 333MHz front side bus – a first from AMD. The new bus requires platform support, of course, and NVIDIA’s nForce2 is hitting the scene just in time to support the new processors.
Neither the 2700+ running at 2.17GHz nor the 2800+ running at 2.25GHz are currently accessible to enthusiasts looking to upgrade. However, AMD claims that the 2700+ should be available in OEM systems in November and available to enthusiasts later in the fourth quarter. Athlon XP 2800+ processors will begin surfacing in systems from Falcon Northwest and the like in December, with wider availability expected at the beginning of next year. Keep that in mind when you draft your Christmas lists.
Not Your Everyday Greyhound
The Athlon processor first debuted on a front side bus effectively operating at 200MHz, drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from those who were accustomed to Intel’s 133MHz P6 bus. Over time, the transition to 266MHz has been made along with the addition of DDR memory support. Now that memory technology has advanced to DDR333 and DDR400 speeds, it makes sense for AMD to increase the Athlon’s FSB speed to match. Only a few chipsets have been designed with the necessary bus support in mind, though. NVIDIA’s nForce2 is the premier platform promoted by AMD, but VIA’s KT400 and KT333 chipsets also offer the 333MHz setting. For the purposes of this preview we’ll be using a pre-production nForce2 motherboard from ASUS. The nForce2 chipset is just entering mass production, so retail hardware is still a ways off, but expect a final update from us once final hardware becomes available.