All of this sounds pretty exciting so far huh? But wait, there's one small catch. You can't run out and buy it yet. With today's CPU launches, AMD has announced that it has begun shipping both chips to its customers, Athlon XP 2400+ and Athlon XP 2600+ parts aren't quite available in retail channels just yet. Fortunately, AMD expects system availability in September, so you'll only have to wait a couple of weeks if you want to pick up an Athlon XP 2400+ or 2600+.
As we discussed on the previous page, this new stepping will eventually work its way down to the slower Athlon XP parts (if it hasn't already) for those of you who feel that the Athlon XP 2600+ is a bit too expensive for your budget, but still want the benefits of the new stepping. Just wait a few months for retailers to sell off their current inventory of 80mm2 parts as well as getting newer 84mm2 chips that run at the slower clock speeds. If possible, it's always best to physically see the chip you're going to buy in the store. Since you know our chip was manufactured the 31st week of this year, if you find a week 32 or 33 Athlon XP 2000+ it's logical to speculate that it may be based one of the newer Thoroughbred cores. Newsgroups and message boards can also be good sources of information on processor steppings.
For testing we used an Epox EP-8K3A+ KT333 motherboard that was supplied by AMD. The initial BIOS didn't properly recognize the CPU as an Athlon XP 2600+, but it ran fine and we didn't encounter any problems. Since then a new BIOS has been built (8k3a2813.bin) that fully recognizes the Athlon XP 2600+. As far as we're aware, this is all that will be required in any other Athlon motherboard so there shouldn't be any compatibility issues. AMD keeps a list of validated motherboards
on its website as additional resource for end users.
With the changes implemented in the new stepping, we were eager to see how high we could crank up our processor. Fortunately the new Thoroughbred chips are just as easy to overclock as the older Thunderbird CPUs so we grabbed a #2 pencil and set out to connect the L1 bridges. A few minutes later and we were armed with an unlocked 2.13GHz processor!
After experimenting with multiple bus/multiplier/voltage combinations, the maximum clock speed we were able to hit with out Athlon XP 2600+ with complete stability was 2304MHz (16.0x144) at 1.825V. We were actually able to get the system to run at just under 2.4GHz, but we just couldn't get 3DMark 2001SE and a few other tests to work reliably regardless of the voltage we used.