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Sempron 3100+ in Detail

The Sempron 3100+ is the slowest and cheapest embodiment of the K8 architecture in silicon. Targeting low-end systems, it has just some of the characteristics the top-end models (Athlon 64 and Opteron) have. The two main deficiencies:

  • The amount L2 cache memory is reduced in the Sempron 3100+ to 256KB compared to 512 or 1024KB in Athlon 64 processors;
  • The Sempron 3100+, although based on the K8 architecture, does not support the AMD64 technology. In other words, the Sempron 3100+ is a 32-bit processor.

While it’s all clear with the smaller amount of cache memory, the lack of support of 64-bit extensions requires some comment. Since AMD conceived the Sempron family as a response to Intel’s release of the Celeron D series, the Sempron 3100+, although the major representative of the family, found itself in the value product category. Historically, value processors from both AMD and Intel are made not just slower, but also lacking certain functions – that’s the CPU manufacturers’ way of encouraging us to purchase more expensive processors. For example, the Celeron D series from Intel have a cut-down L2 cache and lack Hyper-Threading technology and use a slower system bus (compared to the Pentium 4). AMD, on its part, disabled the 64-bit extensions in the Sempron 3100+. However, this is not as big a loss as the slower bus coupled with the disabled Hyper-Threading, because even owners of top-end Athlon 64 processors, fully supporting the AMD64 technology, don’t practically use 64-bit modes. The reason is simple – there’re practically no operating systems and applications capable of working in the 64-bit environment. And there will be no such software at least until the release of Windows XP with support of AMD64 and EM64T. Right now Microsoft is only offering a beta version of this OS, regularly postponing its official release. According to the latest information, it is scheduled for the first half of 2005. So, the Sempron 3100+ has no significant disadvantages compared to the Athlon 64 as yet.

As for other progressive technologies, implemented in the Athlon 64, the Sempron 3100+ has them all. It features Enhanced Virus Protection (the so-called NX-bit), which is supported by Windows XP SP2 and helps to protect your computer from malicious program code, and offers Cool’n’Quiet technology that reduces the heat dissipation and power consumption of the processor when it’s idle.

The following table lists the formal characteristics of the Sempron 3100+ in contrast to Athlon 64 CPUs for Socket 754 and Socket 939 systems:

The Paris core the Sempron 3100+ is based on originates from the NewCastle core. As a result, the Socket 754 Sempron is made of CG stepping dies with such consequences as better overclockability, support of the 2T memory timing that improves compatibility with various DDR SDRAM memory modules.

The marking of the Sempron 3100+ looks like that:

And here’s what diagnostic utilities have to say about it:

Based on CG stepping cores, Sempron 3100+ CPUs should be highly overclockable. Why? Top-end Athlon 64 processors of this stepping are rated to work at 2.4GHz, so we should be able to overclock the Sempron 3100+ to this point at least. Or even more, considering that the Sempron 3100+ die is smaller than the Athlon 64 one due to the reduced L2 cache! We hope we’ve intrigued you already, but before getting to the tests, let’s discuss the problem of choosing an overclocking-friendly mainboard.

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