Although I didnâ€™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 youâ€™ll see that it affects processor performance less than youâ€™d think. However, the Sempron 3400+ has the advantage of having SSE3, something the older 3200+ Athlon 64 doesnâ€™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 weâ€™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+â€™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 youâ€™ve already got a slower Sempron or possibly a 2800+ Athlon 64. However, if youâ€™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 didnâ€™t give us a price in time for the publication of this article, but all indications points to the Sempron 3400+ costing under Â£100. But with a Socket-939 Athlon 64 processor costing just over Â£100 there seems to be some product overlapping in AMDs inventory.
Overall the Sempron 3400+ is a solid processor and itâ€™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.
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.