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Athlon 64 Socket 939

But let’s go back and take a closer look at the bandwidth of unbuffered dual channel DDR memory in combination with an Athlon 64 processor. AMD claims a memory bandwidth of up to 6.4GB/sec which is very impressive, but does it hold true? Although we don’t quote SisoftSandra scores anymore, due to it not being a benchmark as such, I still gave it a quick run to see how the numbers added up. And to be honest AMD is not far off the mark with numbers higher than those of a Pentium 4 with the i875P chipset and PC4000 (500MHz) memory.

Comparing the old FX-53, which used buffered ECC memory to the new Socket 939 model in PCMark 2004 the memory score was up almost 300 points. The result was not quite as high with the 3800+ but it still managed close to a 200 point improvement. This might not seem overly impressive, but compared to the single channel Socket 754 3400+ the PCMark 2004 memory score is up 1700 points for the 3800+ which is very significant.

We have compared the 3800+ with the FX-53 in the graphs so you can see how they compare in terms of performance, but to be honest I see little reason to go with the FX-53 as it doesn’t seem to offer a significant boost in performance over the 3800+.
This might however change with production motherboards and a faster graphics card, as the GeForce FX5900 XT card that is part of our standard test platform doesn’t have enough grunt to really show off what these processors are capable of.

AMD claims that the FX-53 should offer in the region of 3-4 per cent performance advantage over the 3800+ in 3D games. But looking at the results from our 3D benchmarks this doesn’t hold quite true, but as I said, this is partly down to our reference graphics card. But TrustedReviews will bring you updated reviews of complete systems as soon as these new processors are available to UK system integrators and with an ounce of luck these machines should come with the very latest graphics cards.

As we were not given a price indication from AMD with regards to the new processors it is hard to estimate a street price, but an educated guess would be that neither chip will come cheap. The FX-53 would be in the same region as the current FX-53 which costs over £560. The 3800+ should be somewhat cheaper, again I would guess at around the £400-450 mark with the 3500+ coming in around £300-350. But these are just guesses based on current pricing and with the imminent launch of Intel’s new Socket-T platform, who knows what AMD is planning.

Overall the new Socket 939 platform is impressive and AMD’s Athlon 64 platform is entering a new era, although many of the early Athlon 64 adopters might be disappointed at having to purchase a new motherboard and processor for their next upgrade. However, this is normal for life in the computer fast lane, constant change always leaves the early adopters having to pay the price. Hopefully AMD will stick with Socket 939 for some time now, as there is no logical reason to change it.

One final thing, for anyone thinking of getting one of the new processors, remember that later this year PCI Express will arrive for Socket 939, which means that if you want to be at the cutting edge, a motherboard and graphics cards upgrade is due in a couple of months. It might just be worth holding on a little bit longer and doing it all in one go. The only good news is that AMD is sticking with DDR400 memory for now, so there is no need to rush out and buy DDR2 modules for the new platform.

Verdict

AMD’s new Socket-939 is what the Athlon 64 should have been from day one and will give Intel a real run for its money with excellent performance and hopefully a competitive price. AMD has yet again clawed back the performance crown from Intel, but for how long?

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