AMD's Thoroughbred out of the stalls

New core, faster clock speed

AMD today launched the long-awaited AMD Athlon XP 2200+, the first CPU with the cooler Thoroughbred core. And it has named two big OEMs - HP in the US, and Fujitsu Siemens in Europe - as customers.

The Athlon XP 2200+ is based on 0.13 micron manufacturing technology - which means smaller die size, lower power consumption and better performance. It costs $241 in batches of 1,000. This is the same as the Intel P 4/2266 which cost also costs $241. But don't forget AMD's list prices are typically discounted more heavily on the street than Intel's.

As for processor speed (as opposed to performance rating), the 2200+ clocks in at 1800MHz, compared with the 1733 MHz for 2100+ with the Palomino core.

So Intel is racing away with the lead on the clock speed front, with its fastest desktop CPU clocking 2.53GHz. However this costs a hefty $637 in OEM quantities, so it's not exactly mass market pricing yet.

As AMD points out, correctly, megahertz no longer gives a linear indication of performance. AMD argues that Intel's P4 design is inherently less efficient in than the Pentium III - to the tune of 25 per cent, or so.

OK, we'll take this argument on board and move onto the next question: how good is new AMD T-bred.

Tom's Hardware has put the chip through its paces, with an exhaustive review, comparing Thoroughbred with Palomino and containing some info about the upcoming Barton core, which will have 512K cache. In 32 tests, AMD outstripped the Intel Pentium 4/2533 in only two.

Of course, it's much cheaper. As THG points out, AMD "still has a better price/performance ratio if you're less concerned with getting the absolute top performance. In this case, the true benchmark freaks will want to stick with a P4 system based on PC1066. The T-bred won't give you the a big performance boost, and we didn't expect it to, because ultimately, the CPU core has not been changed.

"Still, it's going to be exciting, because the arrival of the Barton, with its larger L2 cache, is imminent. And VIA is working on the KT400 chipset, which is supposed to bring DDR 400 with 200 MHz to the Socket 462 platform. Thus, the race has not yet come to an end - the means are ultimately the goal!" ®

Tom's Hardware review.

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