Duron marches on
With performance taking a backseat to price in the minds of today's mainstream consumers, budget CPUs such as AMD's Duron and Intel's Celeron can't be disregarded as obsolete in the marketplace. These chips may not garner all the attention and spotlight of their bigger brothers, but they certainly represent a noticeable percentage of revenues for both AMD and Intel. Realizing this, today AMD unveiled its latest update to the product lineup, the Duron 950.
Right now you're probably wondering what compelled AMD to release another 50MHz jump in the Duron: "The Duron 900 is still holding up well against the fastest offering from Intel (the Celeron 850)", we know that's what you're thinking. In the PC hardware market however, the arrival of June historically marks the end of lackluster demand and slow sales; business slowly begins to pick up - and you thought the only thing that picked up in the summer was the heat!
This summer upturn peaks during the back-to-school shopping season. College students need their PCs to game on (I did some schoolwork on my computer dad, honest!) while mom and dad want to teach little Jimmy his ABCs. Regardless of the reason, these consumers need their new PCs and everyone in the hardware market is more than happy to provide products for them. With larger system vendors completing their designs on these PCs months in advance of the spending rush (so they can hit retail shelves in time), it's important for hardware manufacturers like AMD to get their products out in the May/early June timeframe, else they risk being left to wait for the fall and the holiday shopping season.
Now that you understand the business reasons behind the decision, lets get to the factor you care most about, the hardware itself and its performance.
Our Duron 950 core
With the exception of the 9.5x clock multiplier, the Duron 950 we're reviewing today is unchanged from the Duron 900. Unlike the Athlons (which sometimes seem to have a new stepping each month), the Duron stepping has remained unchanged at ANCA, the stepping that marked the arrival of the Duron 900 back in April.
In our opinion, it's been pretty impressive to see the Duron architecture scale from 600MHz all the way to 950MHz with the same voltage (1.6V). It's a shame AMD has only recently pushed the Duron to the mobile market, a segment where power consumption must be kept to a minimum.