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This processor release is a very important one for AMD and explains their speed and secrecy in this particular processor release. AMD desperately needed to get back on top of the processor performance arena and wanted to do so without a jump from Intel in the mean time. I feel the benchmarks are showing that they have succeeded quite well at their goal. The Athlon XP 2600+ processor is the fastest processor on the market without a doubt; even overtaking the Intel Pentium 4 2.53 GHz setup that we have here.

There are a lot of interesting points that need to be discussed on this review, however. Most of you have probably heard the news of the release of the 2800+ processor from AMD that will be introducing the 333 MHz front-side bus to the Athlon Thoroughbred core. While AMD will not confirm this with me publicly, I can say with almost 100% assuredness that it will happen soon. Too many hardware manufacturers have been telling me about their preparations and testing for this jump for it to be only a rumor. The performance jump that we see when these processors are announced may be significant, but it has yet to be seen how AMD will be performing the change. In theory all they would do is raise the FSB to 166 MHz and then decrease the multiplier – they are overclocking their processors for you. It is nothing that you couldn’t have done yourself if you had an unlocked processor. 🙂 What I am interested to test is to see how far the FSB of the new processors will overclock. Will we be seeing 200 MHz FSBs then? Or will be maxing out the new core at less than 175 MHz? This is all purely speculation at this point.

With the “Rev B” of the Thoroughbred core, AMD has shown the processor to be quite scalable (in our tests up to at least 2.43 GHz) and with the change to the 333 MHz FSB this may scale even further than that. All of the problems people were reporting with the 2200+ processor should be resolved with this core on the Athlon XP 2400+ processor and the 2600+ processor. And, given the fact that two newly released processors are based on the new core, I see no reason why the Athlon 2400+ processor wouldn’t overclock to as high as speeds as the 2600+ processor making it a better value for your money.

The imminent release of the Athlon XP 2800+ processor with the newer front-side bus is on the horizon and until a way to unlock the Athlon XP 2600+ is found, I see no reason not to wait for the 333 MHz FSB chips. Keep in mind that I am not sure when the release date is on the newer processors; it could be a month it could be three; but the decision to buy now or wait is up to you. If someone discovers the way to unlock these cores for multiplier changes, then you essentially have all the tools you need to make your own 2800+ or 3000+ processor: bump down the multiplier and push up that FSB! The proof of this will be in the different overclocking results you see on the web today for this processor.

Intel is now back firmly in the passenger seat, falling behind its only competitor once again. The Intel 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 is coming out soon, but whether or not it will be able to beat out the Athlon 2600+ processor is a toss up and the 2800+ should surely have the power to beat it in any event. Unless Intel has some more tricks up its sleeve, the AMD Athlon XP processor looks to be back in the winner’s circle.

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