Now shipping at 2GHz+!
The war between Intel and AMD heats up a bit today, as AMD unleashes a pair of new processors: the Athlon XP 2400+ and the Athlon XP 2600+. Yes, you read that correctly, AMD's model numbering scheme has ratcheted up 400 points….places….spots…? To be honest, we're not quite sure what to call it. One thing's for sure though, it certainly isn't megahertz. The Athlon XP 2400+ actually operates at an even 2.0GHz, while the Athlon XP 2600+ clocks in at 2.13GHz. Based on AMD's old numbering scheme, these chips should be designated as XP 2700+ (in the case of the Athlon XP 2600+) and XP 2500+ (for the XP 2400+). So what gives?
What's in a name?
Quite simply, AMD has changed the formula for these newer Thoroughbred parts. As we've all noticed, Intel hasn't had any problems ratcheting up the clock speed on its Pentium 4 processors. And as the Pentium 4's clock speed increases, so does its memory bandwidth to its L2 cache. This is also the case for the Athlon XP, but keep in mind that while the Pentium 4 has a 256-bit L2 cache that transfers data on each processor clock, the Athlon XP has a 64-bit L2 cache that transfers data every eight clocks. What does that mean in terms of bandwidth?
At 2.13GHz, the Pentium 4's cache would offer over 68GB/sec of bandwidth. The Athlon XP 2600+ on the other hand is working with just 8.5GB/sec bandwidth. Knowing this, you begin to see why Intel's Pentium 4 has really begun to put the heat on AMD's chips. Couple that with the Pentium 4's new 533MHz bus and 1066MHz RDRAM and things become even more overwhelming.
In order to keep up with these developments, AMD must have felt compelled to do one of two things: implement new performance-enhancing features in its Athlon XP line or adjust its model number system. Back when the model scheme was originally introduced Pentium 4's were based on Intel's 400MHz system bus with 256K L2 cache. Today both of these features have been enhanced.
AMD chose the latter solution for now at least, but we're still keeping our fingers crossed for AMD to crank up the performance in ways other than increasing clock speed. Rumors suggest that AMD will be implementing a 166MHz (effectively 333MHz) bus soon on its Athlon XP line, but we'd also like to see the Athlon XP's narrow 64-bit L2 interface widened to 256-bits. After all, even Intel's Pentium III processors had a 256-bit interface, and we all know how Athlon fared against it.
But anyway, lets take a closer look at today's new chips!