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| AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core: Golden to the Core (13 comments )|
by: OgreFade (150) | Posted in cluster Round 3 Editors Challenge Sponsored by Intel
Posted 74 months ago ( edited 74 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
|» MEDIA (10)|
The Retail Processor in a Box
The included case badge!
Installing a X2 Dual Core Processor Courtesy AMD.com
The new hardware installed pardon the dust and cable clutter
Half-life 2, Counter-Strike, Supreme Commander, and Futuremark Benchmark Results
Sisoft Sandra and Cinemark Benchmark Results
Sisoft Sandra Dhrystone and Whetstone Results
Sisoft Sandra Integer, and Floating Point Results
SiSoft Sandra Inter-Core Bandwidth Testing
The Final Verdict is...
It’s funny how ambient noise becomes part of your life. As a kid I lived near a train siding, and all night trains would arrive, reconfigure and depart. I would sleep through thunderous collisions of switching cars, and blasts of compressed air venting brake lines. A couple months ago I woke up…. and something was wrong. This is the kind of wrong where you sit up immediately in bed, fully awake, completely alert and start taking inventory of things that are important in life. The sound in the house wasn’t right, I listened for someone IN my house, and I listened for my wife breathing, something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I actually got out of bed, and started checking the house. I couldn’t figure it out, the house wasn’t burning down and no one was breaking in, so I went back to bed. It was turbulent sleep. When I got up the next day, I figured out what was wrong. The black box with the blue lights had died in the night. The sound of the spinning disks and whirring fans had silenced. Over the next few days I tried to troubleshoot the problem. I’m not certain what the actual problem was, but I was certain of one thing... my box died, and I needed a new soul for the black box!
As a computer enthusiast with a less than enthusiastic income, I turned to my AMD to solve my problem. Known for high performance without a high price, Advanced Micro Devices became a publicly traded company on October 15th, 1979 (http://www.nyse.com/about/listed/lcddata.html?ticker=AMD). The stocks are trading at 13.08 per share; I decided to add a bit of revenue to AMD’s bottom line.
I purchased my new CPU from Fry’s Electronics in Wilsonville, Oregon. The processor is also available via pricewatch.com in its OEM form for approximately $159.00. This particular unit was sold as an “AMD Processor In a Box.” Specifically, I chose the AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core Model 4200+. Typically I purchase OEM components; however there are benefits from buying the retail “processor in a box” configuration:
• Clear labeling of the component itself, means no confusion
• Includes an AMD-qualified heatsink and fan with pre-applied thermal interface
• The Heatsink/Fan is serialized for after-assembly tracking
• Detailed, multilingual installation manual
• Certificate of authenticity
• 3-year limited warranty
• The AMD X2 case sticker (who could live without bragging about what is under the hood?!)
Installing this processor is really a routine exercise. There are no difficult hoops, or fiery rings to jump through to install this particular component. Simply place the processor in the 939 socket, lock the pins in, secure the heatsink/fan, and plug in the fan. See the embedded video for a video tutorial(source: http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/DevelopWithAMD/0,,30_2252_869_9460%5E6678,00.html).
Features and Benefits
This particular purchase was made in desperation. Getting back in the game(pun intended), being of paramount importance, I needed a product that was affordable and available now. After reading the propaganda and marketing double talk, I was sold on the following features:
• AMD64 Technology
• Enhanced Virus Protection (EVP)*
• HyperTransport™ technology
• L1 and L2 Cache for Each processor.
AMD has used the 90nm manufacturing process on the X2 Dual-Core family of processors, reducing the core size to a sufficient level to place two cores on a single chip! The current trend is heading towards smaller fabrication processes decreasing the fab size to 65nm, and in the future decreasing further to 45 nm fab procedures. The smaller the fab process is, the more chips AMD will be able to produce on the same sized wafer, enabling AMD to increase efficiency and maintain pace with demand.
The two logical cores enable users to actually use Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP), a feature reserved for those with two physical processors in the past. The latest operating systems allow users to utilize both processors. Finding applications and games that can efficiently utilize more than one processor can be difficult sometimes, but it is far from impossible.
The AMD64 technology simply enables the execution of 32 bit and 64 bit code, while streamlining the bottlenecks out of the system. Full operating systems are coming out for 64 bit systems, and finding 64 bit applications is becoming easier and easier.
The Enhanced Virus Protection is a newer feature that when combined with the appropriate software, (Windows XP SP2,) sets portions of system memory aside for reading and writing; specifically, not executing code, which by default quarantines data for removal.
The HyperTransport™ technology is designed with speed in mind. Providing more bandwidth, fewer buses, and reducing bottlenecks on input/output interconnects. AMD paints a great picture courtesy their website:
“HyperTransport technology is a high-speed, low latency, point-to-point link designed to increase the communication speed between integrated circuits in computers, servers, embedded systems, and networking and telecommunications equipment up to 48 times faster than some existing technologies.”
Inclusion of Cool'n'Quiet™ is ostensibly a throttling technology, much like mobile processors. Its primary benefits are lowering temperature, power consumption, and decibels from your system.
The X2 family of processors have an L1 and L2 cache allocated for each processor. The close proximity of the L1 and L2 cache streamlines the data flow allowing the processor to avoid the latency caused by moving data to the system RAM. The Intel Core 2 Duo, does not have this feature, and contains two L1 cache's and only a single L2 cache.
The specifics for AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core Model 4200+ are as follows:
• Socket 939
• 90nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI)
• Max Temperature 49-71°C
• Voltage 1.30V-1.35V
• Operating Mode 32/64 bit
• Stepping E4
• Frequency 2200Mhz
• HT Speed 2000
• Power Consumption 89W
• L1 Cache 128KB x2
• L2 Cache 512KB x2
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Socket 939
ASUS A8N SLI- Deluxe Motherboard
2GB Corsair DDR
ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256 MB
200GB Maxtor SATA
Windows Vista Ultimate
Default Vista Drivers
Desktop resolution 1650x1020, 32-bit color, 60 Hz refresh
Viewed on a Dell 20.1” LCD
For the purpose of benchmarking I only had one true desktop system to gather data from. Despite this misfortune I gathered some interesting performance figures to give an idea of real world performance. Fresh from an article based on optimizing Supreme Commander, the system was running stable and there were no system crashes or hiccups.
Half-life 2: Lost Coast: Video Stress Test. 1650x1020x32, 2xAA, 4xAF AVG FPS: 38.52 FPS. The comments were turned off for this benchmark; overall the system configuration produced very playable results. The vistas in this particular benchmark are beautiful with far off draw distances. The game play was smooth until the very end, where the artillery started to fall. In contrast my 1.66 GHz laptop produces a slide show effect from the very beginning and is entirely unplayable. Next, near and dear to my twitchy fingers, is Counter-Strike: Source
Counter-Strike: Source Video Stress Test 1650x1020x32, 2xAA, 4xAF AVG FPS: 70.28. Counter-Strike: Source is a requisite test for any processor that will be running in my home, and this processor delivered in spades. The average FPS truly is 70 in and out of gunfights, in and out of doors, in explosions or in smoke. Having no custom configurations, and simply running a vanilla install, the performance was very good for as many bells and whistles that were turned on.
Supreme Commander Performance Test Low Fidelity AVG FPS: 19.153. Supreme Commander is a beast worthy of testing the mightiest of systems. I believe the most significant bottleneck for this system is the GPU; however, 19.153 FPS is almost playable at low fidelity. With some slight optimization significant frame rate increases can be had on this hardware making the game playable.
The next batch of benchmarks comes via the venerable Futuremark suite of performance benchmarking software. The scores for these tests come via the free demo editions of 3dMark05, 3dMark06, and PCMark05. First PCMark05: 3667, then, 3dMark05: 5024 and finally 3dMark06: 1683. When each result screen came up I was assaulted with an Intel Multi-core processor that had performed the highest benchmark. Each time Intel bested my setup.
Cinebench tests Shading and Rendering, and the efficiency of Multiprocessors. While the shading and OpenGL benchmark portion do not pertain as much to processor speed, Cinebench provides the best visual example of processing. The final portion of a benchmark run-through is the rendering of an archway, first rendering via a single processor, then with multiple cores. The results are impressive to watch, a single processor simply chugs away at revealing the image slowly. The second test shows the rendering of the image starting in two different places for dual cores, and four places for quad cores. The results show that multiple cores complete the task at almost twice the speed of the single processor. In this case, the speed up resulting from the extra core is 1.86, or almost the equivalent of using two full processors to complete the task, with a mere 14% of a single core utilized to run the rest of the overhead for the entire operating system.
Sisoft Sandra performed the Dhrystone, Whetstone, Floating Point, Integer tests and Inter-Core Bandwidth tests. The Dhrystone tests examines how many millions of instructions per second (MIPS)are performed and the result comes in at a healthy 15,770 MIPS. The Whetstone benchmark tests the co-processor performance and is measured in MFLOPS, (Million Floating OPerations per second,) most used in engineering and statistical type data movement; the 4200+ delivered 13,582 MFLOPS. Testing next to a varied field, (see the figure,) the X2 4200+ delivered promising results. The Integer testing provided 41,468 it/s (Mandelbrot iterations per second), followed by the Floating point test, resulting in 45862 it/s. Sitting side by side with Intel quad core processor, the results look slightly anemic; however, the competition has twice the number of cores. The final benchmark was Inter-Core Bandwidth. The X2 4200+ gets blown away by the competition, most notably the Intel Core 2 Duo E6700.
Multi-Core Performance: With Multiple Cores the end user gets a real seat of the pants feeling of speed. This processor is the fastest I’ve ever had the pleasure of benchmarking. Watching the two cores render in Cinebench was something that very much impressed me, I will only be purchasing multiple cores in the future.
Price: This processor is inexpensive compared to the newest batch of Multi-core processors, and offers great speed and performance. The closest Intel processor is nearly twice the price.
Features: Cool N’ Quiet is a great feature for those times when pure performance is secondary; keeping noise down in the house, system temperatures low, and power bills lower than they could be.
Software Utilization: Locating applications that fully utilize multiple cores can be difficult. Trying to get your money’s worth can be difficult, makings sure each core is working as hard as possible is a real concern. The new software feature to watch for when looking for applications and games is “Multiple Core Enabled.”
The Intel Factor: The closest competitive processor is Intel’s Core 2 Duo. This is an impressive group of processors. The benchmarks have shown them to be phenomenal performers. This current crop of Intel processors poses the question, should I spend the money for Intel again?
Old News: This processor uses the older 90nm manufacturing. Newer chips are made with the 65nm fab process. These chips are faster and more efficient; sipping power starting at 65W instead of lapping it up hungrily at 89W. Despite being very new on the geological timeline, there are new innovations waiting in the wings.
This 2.2 GHz processor is the fastest I’ve personally ever installed or been able to personally experience. The ease of installation and the 3 year warranty grant me speed and piece of mind. The performance I’ve gained during everyday use is actually significantly noticeable. The speed makes me feel like I’m more productive with shorter load times in software and games.
The price point is great for the 4200+, and the performance is worth more than the price of a single processor. It feels like I bought one processor and got two.
The 4200+ purchase is something I have never regretted for an instant. I will still pine for the latest and greatest, but after looking at other benchmark results there is merely a minor niggling curiosity of how would I be feeling if I had a Quad-Core Intel processor.
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