The users welcomed the dual-core desktop processors with great enthusiasm. New architectures that allow combining two processor cores within a single semi-conductor die boosted the performance of contemporary CPUs quite tangibly. Since it has become extremely difficult to continue increasing the clock frequencies of the CPUs nowadays, the processor developers are truly excited about the potential of the dual-core solutions.
However, dual-core CPUs, like any other new products out there, turned out pretty expensive and thus could hardly become really mass products. This is primarily the case for dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 CPUs, which have been initially positioned as higher-end solutions than the single-core Athlon 64. As a result, the price of a single Athlon 64 X2 rested somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
Intel proved to be more democratic in setting the prices on its new dual-core solutions. The price of Pentium D processors starts at around $241, which gives them green light on the way to mainstream systems. However, this tremendous price difference is absolutely justified: the dual-core processors from AMD that have been in the market so far are significantly faster than the dual-core Pentium D solutions.
No matter what, this was definitely not what AMD wanted. The fact that Intel’s dual-core CPUs were selling at a more affordable price was a pain for AMD marketing people. Therefore, following the announcement of the first dual-core processors, AMD started working real hard on the ways of improving their dual-core solutions pricing. And this task has finally been solved. Today, on August 1, 2005 (EDC) AMD announces the youngest model in the Athlon 64 X2 processor family with the 3800+ rating, which price is set at $354, according to the company’s official price-list. Another pleasant thing is that this is not a “paper” launch, it is absolutely real: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ should start appearing in stores any minute now.
The price of the new Athlon 64 X2 has been reduced to $354 in a pretty standard way. Firstly, the working frequency of this processor is lower than the working frequency of all other dual-core AMD solutions. Secondly, this processor features smaller L2 cache. By reducing the L2 cache size AMD could make the die size smaller, which certainly affects the production cost of the CPU. The first Athlon 64 X2 processors were based on Toledo core consisting of 233.2 million transistors and featuring the die size of 199sq.mm. The new Athlon 64 X2 3800+ is based on the new core known under the codename of Manchester (this core has also been used in other younger processor models of the family), which is 147sq.mm big and features only 154 million transistors. This is certainly more than a single-core AMD processor would have, but it nevertheless allows increasing the production of dies per single 200mm wafer by the good 38%. By the way, due to smaller L2 cache, the new Athlon 64 X2 on Manchester core turned out almost as small as the Pentium 4 6XX processors from Intel.
So, the new Athlon 64 X2 3800+ appears a very interesting solution for our detailed study and testing. This dual-core processor from AMD falls into a slightly different price group than all of its predecessors, which may theoretically turn it into a true sales hit. Of course, this can only happen if its performance turns out adequate. So, in our today’s article we decided to take a closer look at the performance of the new comer and thus evaluate its future prospects for the processor market.