Processors AMD: where to insert? Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

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Today we look at the current situation in the market of modern platforms for desktop PCs based on processors AMD Athlon XP. After a brief analysis of the status of AMD in the PC market, we look at all current and recent past digital chipsets for AMD processors and memory DDR (ie format Socket A) and some typical system boards in each of these chipsets, and then carried out a detailed comparative Performance testing of these chipsets together to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of them and the most preferred choices depending on the specific application. The last part will devote chipset for the latest 333 MHz system bus and the latest, and future models of processors Athlon XP. And simultaneously compare the performance of current models of processors AMD Athlon XP and Intel Pentium 4 in various applications.

Part 1. I'm D ;-)

In the last couple of years the processors for personal computers, manufactured by Advanced Micro Devices, deserve a lot of praise from the professionals (computer manufacturers and independent press) and ordinary users. This is the third large-scale success in the market of processors AMD architecture x86: seven or eight years ago, older models 486h-compatible processors AMD is deservedly considered one of the best in its class and even competing with younger models, Intel Pentium, and later processors AMD K6-2 ( and then the K6-2 + and the K6-III) not only gave a new breath Socket 7 platform and were considered the best processors for this socket, but also to compete with Intel Pentium II processor and Celeron (on the kernel Mendocino) in a number of problems with integer calculations (e.g., office plan) and good "dispersed" in frequency (see., e.g., «KT» # 299).

However, last year's success, coupled to the output processor socket Socket A particularly AMD Athlon XP and AMD Duron, do not go to any comparison with the previous. So, which appeared in the second half of 2001, Athlon XP Palomino core was not only able to compete in performance with the fastest at the moment desktop Intel Pentium 4 processors at the core of Willamette, but often well ahead of their (eg, gaming, office work, math floating point calculations) at a significantly lower price. And AMD Duron processors at a price of 30 to 70 US dollars offer superior performance, comparable to the speed "Athlone" were on average faster Intel Celeron of the same frequency and well "broken up."

Sales of processors from AMD naturally went up, the company has to expand its presence in many countries (for example, opened its representative office in Moscow, see., income month after month went confidently to the "plus "and in some areas it was even able to win about a third of the market of processors x86 (in the whole world share while AMD was about 20-25%, see.

Not going to stop there, AMD had planned early in 2002 to release more advanced "Athlone" 0.13-micron nucleus Thoroughbred (not to mention the Napoleonic plans for the development and promotion of 64-bit processor family Hammer). However, as time went on, the official exit "Thoroughbred" was postponed, and in the early summer when they finally were announced, it was found that the company did not immediately able to provide their massive supply, that is actually the processors were "paper" (more than a month after their announcement Moscow could be found only isolated experimental samples for test purposes only). And now (in early November) found in Moscow retail "Athlone" 0.13-micron nucleus (even the youngest) is very difficult. Therefore, the announcement of new models Athlon XP 2100+ and 2200+ have after Intel released in large quantities far more productive Pentium 4 2.4GHz and 2.53GHz, it seemed to many rather weak pace.

Down and Out the trouble started, and then AMD has acted in the same way. In the late summer of this year, followed by a "paper" output processor Athlon XP 2400+ and 2600+ (the last in the history of models for 266 MHz system bus) - as a kind of response to the start of sales of Intel Pentium 4 processors with frequencies from 2.6 to 2.8 GHz. And on October 1, and announced an AMD Athlon XP 2700+ and 2800+ on the new 333 MHz system bus. Again, on paper and in the form of individual samples, because until the end of the year, the company will release a total of 100 thousand for the Athlon XP 2700+ "very elect" partners (see., Eg,, that is, is to buy these processors in Russia, even as part of brandname-computer, almost unreal. Processor 2800+ also begin mass-produced until next year, and maybe on another 0.13-micron nucleus (Barton). Moreover, even the Athlon XP 2400+ and 2600+, we may very well never see in retail before the New Year.

"Slippage" one of the giants of the microprocessor market, due, in particular, the lack of willingness of capacities for 0.13 micron process, could not affect the financial results. The decline continued in the second quarter of 2002, and in the third the company suffered a net loss of 254 million US dollars, or 74 cents per share (in the second quarter loss was 54 cents per share). In total, three quarters of 2002, sales of AMD decreased almost by one third compared with the same period last year - from 2.94 to 2.01 billion. US dollars, and the net loss increased almost ten-fold - from 45 to 448 million. Dollars . AMD losses partly due to high activity in sales Intel Pentium 4 processors to released in January this year, the core of Northwood. However, the decline in sales of AMD in the third quarter due to the lack of a real and new processors on the market of the company, and dumping lower prices for low-end Athlon (to make them more attractive to users) is not a priori able to bring big profits.

According to some analytical agencies, the share of the processor market, owned by AMD, is now reduced to 11.6% (in the second quarter was 15.6%). On a quarter, and in just three months! Moreover, 11.6% - the lowest figure for the company already since 1998. If you recall more than twenty percent of the market in late 2001, AMD is losing even more impressive. For comparison, the share of Intel is now 86.8%, and VIA, and others - 1.6%. Meanwhile, the number of units sold in the third quarter of chipsets for AMD share solutions for Socket A is 16.7% of the total chipset market. Since both of these indicators (the share sold in the quarter the official partners of processors and the number of sold chipsets) are not absolutely objective indicators of the current market share of processors AMD, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and 13-15% of processors in the PC is now on sale AMD company can count. Although the rate of return on AMD processors are now, of course, significantly lower than on processors Intel. In fairness it should be noted that, in contrast to the processor, the sale of flash-memory in AMD's growing (by 8% compared with the previous quarter).

However, the factory Fab30 in Dresden completed the transition to 0.13-micron process technology, and now all supplied by the processors are made precisely this technological process, so that we can hope to improve the situation. And in the near future mass production of processors AMD will start and factories of the semiconductor giant UMC.

Speaking about the immediate prospects of processors AMD, it is impossible not to mention one interesting forecast ( Table 1 shows the approximate number of processors AMD, which are expected to be released before the end of this and next year.

Table 1.
Forecast quarterly release of processors AMD, mln. Pieces.







Athlon XP, 266 MHz FSB






Athlon XP, 333 MHz FSB






Hammer Family






An analysis conducted source shows that volume shipments of Athlon XP processors to a system bus of 333 MHz can be expected around the beginning of spring 2003, and only in the second half of the year, their share exceeds the share of processor bus of 266 MHz. The massive influx of AMD eighth-generation (family Hammer) will start only in the middle of next year. If we consider that one of these days goes Intel Pentium 4 processor with a frequency of 3.06 GHz and advanced technology Hyper-Threading (see. Http://, and in early 2003, the corporation intends to release a new processor 0.09-micron core of Prescott, contains a number of improvements and allow to rise in the long run at speeds up to 4.5-5 GHz, it becomes apparent "technological" (rather - production) backlog of AMD, despite the excellent development and timely "paper" announcements of new products. Although, according to this forecast, the total number of produced AMD (and hence sold) processors will grow rapidly - for the year from 7 to 10 million units in the quarter. Let's come true as you make plans.

Finally, take a look at the official

Best AMD. In the first half of 2003, we will be pleased with the four new items. Two of them will be based on the new 64-bit kernel Hammer: first server version will be released AMD Opteron (kernel SledgeHammer, multiprocessing up to eight processors, the technology of 0.13 micron SOI), and will be followed by a desktop version of "Hammer" on the core ClawHammer. Continue to develop and present a 32-bit kernel "Athlone" in the first quarter will be Athlon XP 3000+ at 0.13-micron Barton core with increased cache of the second level of 512 KB, and behind it and the server version of the Athlon MP for almost identical core. Future processors AMD Duron almost a foregone conclusion: despite the inscription "depends on the market demand," distributed as much as the end of 2003, the company has almost put on the tombstone. Already Duron processors are actively superseded popular among people younger models AMD Athlon XP, which cost less than $ 100, that is comparable in price with Intel Celeron, but significantly exceed their performance in most applications.

Part 2: A Mother's Heart

In this article we will talk about the "heart" of motherboards with socket Socket A - chipsets for processors AMD Athlon / Duron. After the first wave of chipsets for memory DDR SDRAM, surging in the second half of 2001 (AMD 761, ALi MAGiK 1, VIA KT266 / 266A, SiS735, Nvidia nForce415), followed by a pause, during which producers have reaped the fruits of their research. Only two companies found the opportunity to release in spring 2002 the new chipsets supporting faster system memory DDR333 - is VIA c KT333 and SiS c single-chip SiS745 (hereafter we will talk only about the chipsets without integrated graphics).

All chipsets "first wave" were similar to each other. They supported memory DDR266 / 200 (most of them could work with SDRAM PC133 / 100, but motherboard manufacturers rarely used it) bus, AGP 4x, system buses 200 and 266 MHz and comes with a standard set of peripherals, including controllers, USB 1.1, UltraATA / 100 (and later - UltraATA / 133 for some of them), unpretentious integrated audio and so on. profitably looked at the background of the first complete chipset for the PC from Nvidia: nForce not only has a powerful integrated graphics (in the version nForce420 / 220 cm . «KT» # 424), but also excellent on the stated features audio processor as part of the south bridge, and was the first in the industry to use dual-channel DDR memory with 128-bit access (Intel E7500 server chipset for dual-channel DDR200 appeared later). Incidentally, the Socket A platform so far no one chipset but the chipset Nvidia, dual-channel memory uses. With the characteristics of these chipsets can be found in


The first two chipset with support for memory DDR333 (VIA KT333, see., and SiS745, see. showed that for processors AMD Athlon XP the system bus 266 MHz increase in overall performance of systems by replacing DDR266 memory to DDR333 is quite small (only a few percent, see., eg,, and it is unlikely to be felt in the daily work, if the user did not bother to pick up the watch and "measure" shustrost computer. That is the development of chipsets for DDR400 memory and AMD processors with model numbers 2600+ up (Table 3) is almost meaningless, because it does not give a visible effect (bottleneck has become the system bus processors), and hence will not be adequately market demand .

Table 3.
Processors AMD Athlon XP.


Core Clock /
tire MHz

The core processor technology area, the number of transistors, stepping


Typical power dissipation / TDP, W

Maximum power of heat, W

Athlon XP 1500+


0.18 m,
128 mm 2,
37.5 million. Transistors, stepping 662




Athlon XP 1600+





Athlon XP 1700+





Athlon XP 1800+





Athlon XP 1900+





Athlon XP 2000+





Athlon XP 2100+





Athlon XP 2000+


Thoroughbred, 0,13 m,
80 mm 2,
37.2 million. Transistors,
stepping 680




Athlon XP 2100+





Athlon XP 2200+





Athlon XP 2400+


Thoroughbred, 0,13 m,
84 mm 2,
37.6 million. Transistors, stepping 681




Athlon XP 2600+





Athlon XP 2700+





Athlon XP 2800+





This fall we have witnessed to market the next wave of chipsets for Socket A. Since that time, the industry has accumulated a number of new technologies that are required and the implementation of new products. This is definitely a bus support AGP 8x c twice the bandwidth (2.1GB / s), DDR400 memory with a bandwidth of 3.2 GB / s (and full implementation of the already certified JEDEC-memory DDR333), high-speed serial bus USB 2.0 ( 480 Mbit / s), the increasingly popular IEEE 1394 and coming Serial ATA (the latter, however, have not yet become embedded in chipsets and limited addition of chip controllers in the motherboard). And one of the main features of the third wave of chipsets for AMD processors and DDR memory became full-time support for the latest system bus frequency of 333 MHz: previous chipsets can use the new processor (and memory) only in the OC, when the bus AGP (and sometimes PCI) work at higher frequencies.

The representatives of the new wave - a VIA Apollo KT400, Nvidia nForce2 and SiS746 (and subsequent modification SiS746FX). All of them are in addition to the regular work with 333 MHz FSB, DDR333 memory and AGP 8x bus incorporate improved south bridge with support for six-channel AC'97-sound, USB 2.0, UltraATA / 133, Ethernet, and some more useful features (see.

). Vowing was officially support DDR400 memory in their new chipsets, manufacturers and then refused it, placing a burden on the shoulders (and Certification Service) motherboard manufacturers: that is, all the new chipsets are able to clock the DDR400 with all the necessary frequency FSB, but the official work in this operation is not guaranteed (some motherboard manufacturers to include support for DDR400 new models at your own risk). Pleasant exception - nForce2, which supports dual-channel DDR400 officially (total memory bandwidth in this case is 6.4 GB / s!). In addition, all three manufacturers of chipsets stated that improved memory controllers, that is, the new chipsets, even with the old memory will run faster.

Thus, a new generation of chipsets for Socket A (KT400, nForce2 and SiS746) can attract not only the owners of processors AMD Athlon 2700+ or ​​2800+, DDR400 memory and video cards AGP 8x (the practical value of the latter two technologies is open to question), but also Buyers AMD Athlon XP processors with 266MHz system bus (which will dominate the line of the company until the end of AMD, and at least until the middle of next year).

A few words must be said also about the FSB 333 MHz in connection with previous chipsets. As it turned out, only technically VIA Apollo KT333 is able to use a new tire while maintaining the stock speeds of work memory (DDR333) and for AGP (PCI bus correctly clocked at the same time know how many). At the time of release of the chipset KT333 spring, of course, on the 333 MHz FSB was no question, however, since technically VIA has provided such an opportunity, now the company has tested its old chipset in the new regime and said that the chipset officially support this bus. However, most boards on the KT333, issued before the promulgation of the plans of AMD FSB 333, are not able to properly use such a system bus. For example, participating in our review motherboard ASUS A7V333 and Soltek SL-75DRV5 informally on this chipset can work at a clock frequency of 166 MHz FSB, but the frequency of the AGP bus is much too high 83 MHz, which may adversely affect the stability of the platform for applications with three-dimensional graphics (and not every video card will withstand a crackdown on the bus AGP). Moreover, for example, ASUS has officially denied the possibility to use 333 MHz FSB board A7V333 and specifically for the new bus system has released a modified board on KT333 called A7V333-X.

As you can see, even on the new FSB KT333 problem by simply updating the BIOS is not solved. What to speak of other possible contenders from the "oldies". Two of the most "close" to the "old man» - ALi MAGiK 1 M1647 north bridge chipset and dual-AMD760MPX c Northbridge AMD762 (uniprocessor its predecessor, AMD761 long since out of production). About the "magic" chipset ALi a year ago it was rumored that he de can work with 333 MHz FSB (at the time - in overclocking mode), but all the real board it could not then leave the AGP 67 MHz system bus frequency 167 MHz. Вместе с тем представители корпорации ALi недавно заявили, что набор ALi MAGiK 1 может без проблем работать при частоте шины 333 МГц (по крайней мере, для чипсета ревизии C1). А для знаменитой платы Iwill XP333 даже выпущена версия BIOS с официальной поддержкой процессора Athlon XP 2700+ (как обстоит в ней дело с тактированием шины AGP, мы, к сожалению, проверить не успели). С другой стороны, компания ASUS, по нашим данным, отказалась от выпуска обновления BIOS с поддержкой новой FSB для своей платы A7A266-E, хотя это, пожалуй, самая продвинутая плата на этом чипсете (см., не потерявшая привлекательности для использования в компьютерах и по сей день, несмотря на свой солидный возраст. Мы так и не смогли заставить эту плату работать на FSB 167 МГц при тактировании AGP на 67 МГц даже с самой свежей бета-версией BIOS.

Второй потенциальный претендент, чипсет AMD762, мог бы рассчитывать на «внедрение» поддержки новой шины «от родителя» (вместе с полностью синхронной работой FSB с DDR333 это могло бы стать грозным оружием). Тем более что не за горами выход Athlon MP для FSB 333 МГц, а чипсет от AMD — по сути, единственный массовый двухпроцессорный базис для Athlon MP. Тем не менее, представитель AMD уверил нас, что компания не планирует идти на такой шаг, а также не намерена выпускать новый многопроцессорный чипсет для шины 333 МГц, несмотря на то, что серверное направление — одно из приоритетных в ее деятельности. По его словам, новый мультипроцессорный чипсет для Athlon MP сделает, скорее всего, Nvidia — как наиболее близкий «чипсетный» партнер AMD. Если так, то будем надеяться и ждать с нетерпением.

Далее в нашем обзоре мы решили собрать вместе всех соперников на платформе Socket A (новейших и недавнего прошлого), чтобы окинуть взором положение дел на этом сегменте рынка и понять, кто из них наиболее успешный и высокопроизводительный, какие варианты доступны покупателю или «модернизатору» компьютера, какой из чипсетов лучше в качестве платформы в тех или иных случаях (не будем забывать о цене), и вообще, стоит ли срочно затевать апгрейд системной платы и памяти (или покупать новый компьютер), если уже есть в наличии прошлогодняя система на аналогичном процессоре.

Неоспоримым фактом является то, что большинство компьютеров под Socket A собиралось ранее и собирается сейчас именно на чипсетах от VIA Technology. И выпуск в начале этого года чипсета KT333 для DDR333 ( лишь упрочил ее лидерство на этой платформе. Да и новейший VIA KT400 появился на прилавках раньше остальных. А нам предстоит выяснить, остался ли «хозяин» по-прежнему самым шустрым на фоне некоторых более молодых соперников — у конкурентов тоже есть неплохие продукты, способные по тем или иным параметрам соперничать с VIA. К тому же новый SiS746 тоже поддерживает все эти (и даже чуть больше) навороты, а nForce2 — и вовсе двухканальную память DDR400, суперграфику и суперзвук.

Разумеется, уже ни у кого не вызывает сомнений необходимость использовать именно память DDR SDRAM для процессоров под Socket A, хотя в некоторых наименее критичных случаях возможно применение и SDRAM PC133. Более того, платы Socket A для PC133 (например, на популярнейшем в прошлом чипсете VIA Apollo KT133A) еще можно встретить на прилавках, да и сама старая добрая SDRAM занимает почти половину позиций в текущих розничных прайсах как у нас, так и за рубежом (и таки продается!). Поэтому, наряду со всеми DDR-чипсетами в нашем сравнении примут участие две наиболее удачные конфигурации с памятью PC133: на уже упоминавшихся выше ALi MAGiK 1 и VIA Apollo KT133A.

Блок-схемы чипсетов для Socket A

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)

Processors AMD: where to insert?  Parts 1 and 2 (review platforms for Socket A)