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AMD Sempron 3400+ CPU

Although I didn’t have a 3000+ Athlon 64 to hand, I managed to dig out an older 3200+, clocked at 2GHz with 1MB of cache. Although this chip has 768kb of Level 2 cache to its advantage you’ll see that it affects processor performance less than you’d think. However, the Sempron 3400+ has the advantage of having SSE3, something the older 3200+ Athlon 64 doesn’t have and this could tilt the scale to the Semprons advantage in certain applications.

Looking at SYSMark 2004 the Sempron 3400+ scored 160 points overall, whereas the 3200+ Athlon 64 proved that more cache is a good thing with a score of 168 points. This might not sound like a huge difference between the two chips, but I think we’ll have to wait for another speed bump or two before the Sempron catches up here. In PCMark 05 the Sempron scores 3148 overall versus 3237 for the Athlon 64, a much smaller gap.

Looking at some of the individual scores in PCMark05 it is interesting to note that the CPU test actually has the Sempron as the winner with a score of 2835 against the Athlon 64 3200+’s 2821. However, this is within the margin of error and the extra cache of the Athlon 64 wins it the memory benchmark with a score of 3077 with the Sempron trailing behind at 2869 points.

The Sempron does well in 3DMark 03 compared to the Athlon 64, with a score of 7858 points versus 7998 using a 6600GT AGP card. It might not be the choice for high-end gamers, but it shows that budget processors are not as bad for gaming as they once used to be.

There's little point for anyone to upgrade their current Socket-754 platform to the new Sempron processor, unless you’ve already got a slower Sempron or possibly a 2800+ Athlon 64. However, if you’re looking at building yourself an affordable PC with good performance you could do far worse than going for the new Sempron, especially you are considering moving to 64-bit Windows XP or Vista in the future.

AMD didn’t give us a price in time for the publication of this article, but all indications points to the Sempron 3400+ costing under £100. But with a Socket-939 Athlon 64 processor costing just over £100 there seems to be some product overlapping in AMDs inventory.

Overall the Sempron 3400+ is a solid processor and it’s good to see AMD bringing 64-bit support to its entry level processor. But as always with a budget product success very much depends on the price.


Verdict

Faced with tough competition from Intel, AMD has enabled 64-bit functionality and SSE3 on its entry level processors, starting with the 3400+. If this is enough for AMD to gain more market share only time will tell, but extra functionality is always welcome.

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