It’s an interesting time to be shopping for flagship processors, isn’t it? Intel has three different 3.4GHz Pentium 4 chips currently listed for sale. Of those, only the “Northwood”-based variant is widely available, with its 512KB L2 cache. And purportedly, that’s the way it’s going to be for a while longer.
AMD has a contender of its own rated for 3400+ levels of speed. At $400, it isn’t exactly affordable, but it does come in just a tad cheaper than Intel’s 3.4GHz Northwood. Then, if you’re willing to step up to the plate, AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-51, a processor with no given indication of performance other than its FX designation, beckons. True to its pedigree, the Athlon 64 FX offers the utmost in performance from AMD at a premium price. Moreover, there’s only one of them, meaning AMD will only offer one version of the FX at a time.
And it seems as the FX-51’s time is up. A 2.4GHz variant, the FX-53 is upon us, bringing with it the same feature set as its predecessor and the same price, too. It’s nearly undistinguishable from the FX before it, save the 53 in its model string. What’s it competing against? Well, Intel’s 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is readily available, but even the FX-51 was faster than that. That 3.4GHz Northwood previously mentioned is also out in quantity, though it isn’t able to keep pace with the Athlon 64 3400+, much less this powerful new FX-53. So, at least for the time being, AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-53 has the spotlight to itself. Perhaps when Intel ramps up production of the 3.4GHz Extreme Edition, which is currently limited to OEM boxes, we’ll see a fairer fight. Fortunately, we’ll know in just a couple of pages, when we pit the two heavyweights against each other.
Athlon 64 FX-53 chip
The back of the CPU
Also, be sure to come back early next week, when we’ll update our benchmark results with scores from recently received 3.4GHz Northwood and 3.4GHz Prescott processors.
Athlon 64 FX-53
The principle characteristics of the Athlon 64 FX remain intact with today’s FX-53 launch. That is, AMD’s flagship retains its 940-pin ceramic micro-PGA packaging (making it the heaviest processor we’ve ever handled). Manufactured on a 130nm SOI process in Dresden, Germany, it’s comprised of nearly 106 million transistors and measures a massive 193 square millimeters under than heat spreader.