When Athlon processors came out in 1999, the competition in the processor market became much worse. The progressive architecture of this CPU allowed AMD to prove a worthy competitor to Intel and to give them quite a lot of causes for concern. The company’s processors didn’t yield to Intel’s solution in performance, and sometimes were even faster than those. However, it has become quite a hard task for AMD lately to retain this parity with Intel. During Athlon’s architecture life-time Intel managed to shift from Pentium III architecture to absolutely new Pentium 4 architecture, and then enhanced it significantly by increasing the L2 cache size and speeding up the system bus. Athlon also underwent certain enhancements, although, they never were that drastic. The most AMD did, included only system bus overclocking, L2 cache size increase, implementation of SSE support. As a result, Intel is now somewhat ahead of the competitor: Pentium 4 working frequencies grow very rapidly, while AMD has reached the top of Athlon architecture potential.
However, AMD has one very strong move reserved, which can change the situation in the market dramatically. The company prepares a new Athlon 64 processor to enter the desktop CPUs market. And even though they have been delaying this processor a number of times, so that the actual launch date has been postponed for almost a year since the initial schedule, the new architecture to be introduced in this CPU keeps exciting the public quite a lot. Take for instance the fact that Intel Company started paying quite a bit of attention in its confidential documents to the competitiveness of their Pentium 4 processor family against the upcoming AMD Athlon 64:
AMD Athlon 64 aka ClawHammer
is exactly Intel’s biggest cause for concern
But it is still pretty unclear, if the architectural advantages of the upcoming Athlon 64 will allow it to outperform Pentium 4 working at unbelievably high clock frequencies today. All information about the alleged performance of Athlon 64, which had leaked into the web so far, was either very poor and insufficient for any more or less definite conclusions, or concerned AMD Athlon 64 processors working at very low clock frequencies.
Luckily, today we will be able to partially make up for this drawback.
We managed to get hold of a much newer AMD Athlon 64 pre-production sample, which we are going to test very thoroughly today. We would like to remind you that officially, the launch of AMD Athlon 64 is scheduled for September this year. In this article we are not going to go into details concerning the Athlon 64 architecture, that is why we suggest that you check our article called “A Glance at the Future: AMD Hammer Processors and x86-64 Technology”, before you continue reading this review.