Now that we have the Athlon 64 processors in 939-pin format in our hands, what can we say about them?

The performance of the processors is obviously very telling about the engineering AMD has put into the AMD64 core of processors.  Running at 2.4 GHz, the Athlons are able to generally outpace the best from Intel at even 1 GHz higher core speed, but not in every case.  The new FX processor gets a nice jump from the additional HyperTransport speed and the lack of registered memory.  And of course the new Athlon 64 3800+ sees a great improvement over the previous 64 line with the addition of the dual channel memory and an additional 200 MHz of frequency. 

AMD Intros 939-pin CPUs: 3800+ and FX-53 - Processors 29

Notice now that the only differentiation between their ‘elite’ FX line and the ‘enthusiast’ 64 line processors is the amount of L2 cache.  Where previous to this day, the Athlon 64 line and Athlon 64 FX line’s both had 1 MB of L2, the new 939-pin Athlon 64 processors are only going to sport 512 KB of L2.  Both the Athlon 64 FX-53 and Athlon 64 3800+ have 128-bit, dual channel memory controllers and also both run at 2.4 GHz.  All of the performance differences you are seeing in the benchmarks we showed you are a result of the lack of 512 KB of L2 cache.  The performance benefits of this additional cache on the FX line are very small, making me question what sense it makes to have two separate lines of processors for the desktop market.

This is even more curious when you get to looking at the pricing structure of these new processors. 

– Athlon 64 FX-53 (939) – $799
– Athlon 64 3800+ (939) – $720
– Athlon 64 3700+ (754) – $710
– Athlon 64 3500+ (939) – $500

Right off the bat you’ll notice the FX, 3800+ and 3700+ are surprisingly close in their pricing from AMD.  The price point of $799 is really outlandish in nearly 100% of any end users budgeting, and the $720 and $710 of the next two don’t bode well either.  I know as well as anyone that these are premium processors released at the peak of performance and that we should expect higher prices on them than other CPUs, but there is a limit to that.  If AMD has release some lower priced 939-pin processors, they may have had some hope of getting some quick market penetration with their new platform, but instead, it looks like the majority of the enthusiast market will continue to wait for the holy grail from AMD: budget processors that have a lifespan greater than a few months. 

If we were to see an Athlon 64 3200+ in a 939-pin package in the $250 price range, I think this product launch would have been met with a great response from the community.  This would allow many of them to finally upgrade to the 64-bit platform that they have been wanting, for a reasonable cost, with assurances that their platform will be upgradeable in the future with new chipsets, motherboards and processors.  However, from where I stand, this processor release is geared mainly towards those super high end enthusiasts that demand the best, and demand it now.

In that case, the processors released here are astounding performers, shooting everything else we have seen down a notch.  Even without increasing the top frequency of their processors, AMD has managed to make another mark on their ‘hammer’ aimed at rival Intel. 

Be sure to check out next article released later today that will show you the performance of several Socket 939 motherboards and two chipsets for this new AMD platform as well. 

Check out some prices on the AMD Athlon 64 3800+!

Check out some prices on the AMD Athlon 64 3500+!

Check out some prices on the AMD Athlon 64 3700+!

« PreviousNext »