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So, Intel now can also boast three independent processor families for each of the user groups: Celeron for the Value market, Pentium 4 for the mainstream and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition for the gamers and hardware enthusiasts. As a result, the CPU market now looks very similar to the VGA market. The manufacturers have split the targeted audience into several user groups and are going to start selling a dedicated product meeting the needs of these particular users and lying within their affordable price range.

In our today’s review we are going to introduce the new AMD and Intel processors to you, which both companies will position for hardware enthusiasts. In other words, we will talk about the fastest and most expensive solutions Intel and AMD are ready to offer today: Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz and Athlon 64 FX-51.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-51

The new Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX processors announced today are built on the same core with AMD64 architecture, as AMD Opteron processors. We have already introduced this core and its peculiarities to you in a few articles on our site, that is why if you need more details on this architecture, I suggest that you consult one of the following materials available in our CPU section:

I would like to briefly remind you that CPUs with AMD64 architecture are based on the architecture of the classical Athlon XP. The major difference between the new CPUs and the predecessors, which allowed calling them the 8th generation CPUs is support of AMD64 technology, which allows executing 64bit code while retaining full hardware compatibility with the contemporary applications. The implementation of 64bit modes led to broadening of the address space as well as to doubling of the general purpose registers and the corresponding growth of their width to 64bits. However, if you really want to take advantage of the 64bit modes, you need appropriate software supporting AMD64 architecture. This software has already been introduced into the server market, for which the AMD64  Opteron processor is actually positioned. Here you can see ported clones for Linix, web-servers, databases, etc. However, the situation with Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX is not as rosy. The desktop systems users prefer Windows operation systems. Although Microsoft is not in a rush to release the 64bit Windows XP version for CPUs supporting AMD64 architecture in the nearest future. Yes, there are beta-versions of this OS already available, which lets us hope that we might soon see it coming, but the exact schedule for it is still unknown.

As a result, for most users Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX are currently none other but an enhanced version of the Athlon XP. These enhancements are not so numerous, to tell the truth, but they will definitely push up the performance. Among them we would like to point out the following:

  • Integrated memory controller supporting dual-channel and single-channel DDR SDRAM;
  • Individual Hyper-Threading bus for the chipset, which implements AGP 8x and input/output functions in Athlon 64 systems;
  • Larger 1MB L2 cache with higher bandwidth of the bus connecting it with the CPU core;
  • SSE2 instruction support;
  • Longer 12-stage integer pipeline and 17-stage floating-point pipeline (Athlon XP features 10 and 15 stages respectively). This improvement increases the scalability of this architecture and speeds up decoding of certain commands;
  • Larger integer planner buffer (24 entries against 18 entries by Athlon XP);
  • Larger TLB. L1 cache TLB has been increased from 24 to 40 entries, and L2 cache TLB rose up to 512 entries (compare with 256 entries by Athlon XP).
 
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