When the Athlon 64 FX-51 debuted on September 23 of 2003, we were blown away by its performance. Even Intelís Pentium 4 3.2GHz Extreme Edition succumbed to the FXís gaming alacrity. At the same time, it was tough to find and almost prohibitively expensive. And while Intelís Extreme Edition is still the priciest processor out there at $900+ dollars, the $750 dollar Athlon 64 FX-51 is still incredibly steep.
Until now, AMDís Athlon 64 3200+ was the only alternative for gamers looking to benefit from an integrated memory controller and 1MB of L2 cache (plus the promise of 64-bit compliance whenever that becomes a necessity). Running at 2GHz and equipped with a single-channel memory controller, it lags behind the more robust Athlon 64 FX-51; however, the Athlon 64 3200+ also costs $300 dollars less, making it a much more palpable upgrade for the future-conscious consumer.
Then the Athlon 64 3000+ silently emerged, running just as fast but with half the L2 cache, for a total of 512KB. Itís faster than the Athlon XP 3200+ and costs just over $200, too. So, with two respectable Athlon 64 products under its belt, AMD is now prepared to step it up a notch and address the enthusiasts looking for more horsepower at a reasonable price.
Inside the Athlon 64 3400+
There isnít much to say about the Athlon 64 3400+ in terms of new features. It isnít related to the ďNewcastleĒ core, on which the 3000+ purportedly centers. Rather, the 3400+ is identical to the 3200+ before it, sporting 105.9 million transistors, and measuring 193 square millimeters. The core contains 128KB of L1 cache divided into 64KB each of data and instruction storage, along with 1MB of exclusive L2 cache (that is, data stored in L1 does not need to be duplicated in L2).
The Athlon 64 3400+ chip
Of course, the Athlon 64 3400+ features a Socket 754 interface, meaning it supports a single channel of DDR400 memory with up to 3.2GB per second of memory bandwidth. It also has one HyperTransport link over which to communicate with complementary core logic. Actual implementations of the HyperTransport differ, though. For example, NVIDIAís nForce3 150 Pro utilizes a 600MHz pathway 16-bits wide in one direction and 8-bits in the other. Conversely, VIAís K8T800 communicates with the processor over an 800MHz interconnect 16-bits wide in both directions.