Athlon MP and the New Rating System

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You have surely noticed that the Athlon MP processors have now taken on the new bridge metric that AMD is pushing. The fastest Athlon MP processor that is available as of today is the Athlon MP 1800+ processor running at a 1.53 GHz clock speed. There are also 1600+ and 1500+ Athlon MPs available as well.

Interestingly, AMD has decided to forgo changing the name of the previously available Athlon MP chips and they will remain known as the Athlon MP 1.0 GHz and Athlon MP 1.2 GHz processors.

What does the new rating system mean? Well, I covered the entire rating system and marketing information in my Athlon XP 1800+ processor review so I won’t repeat too much of it here. This section that I have taken from that article is on page 7 and you can find even more details there:

Starting with the Athlon XP processor launch, AMD will be introducing their new model numbering system as a bridge to their plans for a unified number system in 2002.

The new AMD Athlon processors will be sold on the basis of a relative performance scale. These models numbers will pertain and convey a performance level relative to other AMD processors. As of now, the Athlon XP processor model numbering will be based on the Thunderbird core Athlons. Below you will see the chart of AMD Model numbers and their actual operating frequencies.

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The new Athlon XP 1800+ processor will actually be running at a speed of 1.53 GHz, not 1.8 GHz as the name might suggest. Similarly, the 1700+ runs at 1.47 GHz, the 1600+ runs at 1.4 GHz and the 1500+ operates at 1.33 GHz. AMD’s new scale compares their new processor to their Thunderbird. This means that the Athlon XP 1800+, which runs at a clock speed of 1.53 GHz, performs nearly the same as an original Thunderbird core Athlon processor would at 1.8 GHz. Along the same lines the Athlon XP 1700+ running at 1.47 GHz performs like a Thunderbird would at 1.7 GHz, and so on and so on.

How does AMD come up with these numbers? Benchmarks – and lots of them. Based on three different and equally weighted categories (visual computing, productivity and gaming) AMD comes up with their model numbering system. To further prove their point, AMD is planning to have their testing of the Athlon XP processor audited by an independent third party which will be responsible for the accuracy and realism of the tests.

A more detailed look at AMD’s benchmarking system reveals this:

1. They use a broad range of industry standard benchmarks from the three categories (visual computing, productivity and gaming). 2. Each category is given equal weighting to the final score. 3. Each test in each category is also given equal weighting. 4. There are 14 total benchmarks covering 34 total applications being tested. 5. All the results are normalized, which allows for a direct comparison between two AMD processors or with any other competing processor.

Besides taking on the model numbering system of the Athlon XP, the Athlon MP has also inherited the new organic packaging from AMD. Here is a bit on that from page 8 of the Athlon XP article:

The change that you notice is the color difference of the CPU. Where before the Thunderbird processors used a ceramic packaging, the new XPs are using an organic material that is nearly identical to the motherboard PCB. It is referred to as OPGA (Organic Pin Grid Array). The major substrate of the new packaging is fiberglass. There are a few advantages to this packaging that pushed AMD in that direction. The first is price – the organic material is much cheaper to produce than ceramic and anything that cuts down on cost is going to be a big plus to computer and technology companies in these economic times. The organic material also produces less impedance to the electrical signals than the previous ceramic packaging. Also, for those that are interested, AMD will be making all of the Athlon XP processors at the AMD Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany.

Here I have also provided some pictures for you compare the old to the new packaging.

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Click to Enlarge

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