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AMD today starts shipping the AMD Athlon XP 3000+, modestly tagged the "world's highest performing desktop PC processor".

According to the company the 3000+ outperforms competing desktop PC processors by "up to 17 percent" on sundry benchmarks.

The 3000+ uses the new Barton core -i.e. loads more cache memory. The 3000+ for example has 640KB of total on-chip cache memory (512Kb L2 and 128KB L1), 70 per cent more than previous XP processors, AMD helpfully points out.

Systems incorporating the 3000+ are available immediately from NEC CI, owner of Packard Bell, in Europe. Other manufacturers are expected to follow suit shortly. In OEM orders of 1,000, the Athlon XP 3000+ costs $588 a pop. However, Tom's Hardware points out that dealers are taking advantage of the chip's rarity, making street prices right now around $630.

"The P4 costs about the same, so there's no price difference to speak of with Intel, something that used to be heavily in AMD's favor." According to Extremetech, AMD should have plentiful supply of the new chips which, if correct, should mean prices will come down rapidly

So, is the the Athlon XP 3000+ the world's fastest desktop CPU? The embargos are off and hardware world+ dog have published their reviews of AMD's latest.

The obvious performance comparisons are with Intel's fastest desktop CPU, a 3.06GHz beast. And the clear conclusion from the reviewers is qualified approval. Tom's Hardware, for example, says lots of nice things about the 3000+, before delivering the knockout blow.

After running extensive tests on the Barton, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for the Athlon 64 with the Hammer core. With all due respect for its accomplishments, the Athlon XP is ready for retirement. The platform has almost five years under its belt and the market needs some healthy competition again. The only way this will happen is if AMD sends an icy breeze chock-full of hailstones in Intel's direction. Otherwise, the company might be caught between the Hammer and the repo-man.

Extremetech takes issue, alongside many, with AMD's product numbering scheme. The new chip reveals inconsistencies in AMD's nomenclature, it says.

All of this indicates that AMD is playing a tricky and delicate balancing act with its product numbering scheme. As we've seen, the 3000+ isn't superior to the 2800+ in every case. When compared to the P4 at 3.06GHz, the results are also somewhat mixed -- AMD is faster in some cases, Intel in others.

Anandtech is also reluctant to award fastest desktop crown to AMD.

In many cases the Athlon XP 3000+ can outperform the 3.06GHz Pentium 4, while in others it manages to tie with Intel's flagship and yet in others it falls behind just as much. The overall performance is close enough to warrant the 3000+ rating but there's no question that it is a very close call between the two top performing CPUs. ®

What the critics say

Tom's Hardware
Anandtech
Extremetech
PC Magazine
HardOCP
Ace's Hardware
xbitlabs

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