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Review: AXIA Overclocking

by David Ross on 8 May 2001, 00:00

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaf2

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AXIA Overclocking

AXIA 1GHz Overclocking

Introduction:

AMD have always been close to Intel in the low-end CPU group. Their K6-2 & 3 has usually been just below the Intel Celeron. Now they are also a player in the current high-end CPU market, where the two giants fight it out with their flagship processors, namely the AMD Athlon Thunderbird and Intel Pentium IV. Gone are the days of Intel ruling the performance market, now AMD are the daddies, as is shown by the various shootouts conducted on the net, where AXIA 1ghz Thunderbirds overclocked to 1.3 and above have beaten the P4 clocked at 1.7ghz! My prediction is that this situation may change however, when more and more programs are programmed with SSE2 instructions in mind, and if Intel lower the prices, P4 will become a viable option. But at the current state of play, you cant get better than an overclocked thunderbird. This is astounding considering the price of a TBird 1ghz (~£150) to that of a P4 (~£350).

There are a number of platforms available for the TBird:

The SDR route, which uses PC100/133 SDRAM on a Via KT133 or KT133A compatible board. This is an excellent choice as it is powerful, cheap to upgrade, and bus speeds of up to around 150 are possible (on KT133), making the most of good quality RAM. Please note that to take full advantage of an AXIA chip, you will need a KT133A motherboard (such as Abit KT7A or Asus A7V133), as KT133 boards can only take the FSB up to around 105. With a maximum multiplier of 12.5, this means a maximum speed of 1300.

The DDR route, using PC2100 DDR RAM on an AliMagik1 or AMD 761 board. This is the choice for the person looking for the absolute best performance, irrespective of cost. However, DDR RAM has dropped in price so much that it is now not too far from that of SDRAM, but the boards are still quite expensive. DDR RAM has the advantage of being able to read on the rise and the fall of the clock. A DDR 133 Bus (PC2100) is equal to that of 266 due to the "double" reading upon the clock. This is not to be confused with the DDR internal clock found in most (all?) socket A chips, or RAMBUS (QDR) found on Pentium 4 platforms.

Tech Specs:

Core - ThunderBird
Clock Speeds :- 750 - 1333MHz - Any More soon?
L1 Cache - 128KB
L2 Cache - 256KB
Speed of Cache - Same as Core
Cache Bus - 64 Bit
Interface - Socket 462 (Socket-A)
Microns - 0.18
Transistors - 37 Million

Overclocking has come a long way from the good old days of trying to get 33MHz from a 486 sx/25. You may mock this, but if you think about it, that is a 25% increase in clock speed, which is a respectable overclock. This would've required extreme levels of cooling - namely a heatsink! The first processor to bring overclocking to the masses was the Celeron 300A. This was the infamous cpu which could be run at 100FSB (from 66) without breaking sweat, giving most users at least 450MHz (50% overclock!). Since then, no processors have really caught the attention of the deranged and criminally insane (A.K.A. Overclockers :D), until now. There is a new AMD Thunderbird stepping which has been killing everything else in terms of overclocking potential. This new stepping has the code 'A X I A' printed on the core, so it is relatively easy to tell if yours is one or not (see below)

The code on my core is as follows:

A1000AMT3B

AXIA0108SPFW

Y6050180791

So as you can see, its an Athlon 1000, socket, blah blah (same as most 1ghz chips). One point to note is the 'B' on the end which denotes that this is a 100 FSB (200 DDR) chip. The next line gives the all important 'AXIA' code showing that it is from the schweet stepping :) The '0108' means that it is a week 8 chip (I think these are one of the best weeks for o/cing). On the third line is a 'Y' which means this is on of the better chips for overclocking (If possible, try to choose a 'Y' when buying. The rest of the info is just serial numbers and junk like that. Now for some benchmarks!

Testing System:

AMD Athlon Thunderbird @ 1000/1400

Taisol CGK742092

Abit KT7A-RAID

Hercules 3D Prophet II MX

256mb PC133 CAS2 RAM

Windows 2000 Professional (Scores likely to be slightly lower than those found in Win9x)

Benchmark Apps:

Sisoft Sandra 2001 Professional

ZDNet CPU Mark 99

Observations:

Although I had heard great stories about these chips, I was a bit wary, because all CPUs can be different. Having said that, I was expecting at least 1.3ghz from this baby. I wasn't disappointed! I booted up at CPU default just to test things out. Then I thought "go for it", and left the multiplier at 10x and cranked the FSB to 133mhz. Absolutely no probs at all, POSTed, got into Windows, ran Seti@Home fine, so I was pretty happy. I then went for higher. I set the multiplier at 10.5x I took the FSB all the way to 140. This time it entered Windows OK, but on looking at MBM5 I was running very high temps (>55°C) and soon after starting Seti I got a BSOD. 10.5 x 136 is pretty stable, and so it is what I run the CPU at most of the time. But 1430 isn't a nice number and it isn't 100% stable, so for the purposes of this article, I will use 1400 (10 x 140).

SiSoft Sandra Professional:

CPU Benchmark

AXIA @ 1000MHz (10*100)

AXIA @ 1400MHz (10*140)

CPU Multimedia Benchmark

AXIA @ 1000MHz (10*100)

AXIA @ 1400MHz (10*140)

ZDNet CPUMark 99:

AXIA @ 1000MHz (10*100)

AXIA @ 1400MHz (10*140)

Conclusions:

The first word that comes to mind is 'wow'! This chip is decent at 1ghz, but stonking at 1.4! This cpu was actually more overclockable than I've given it credit for, but at the cost of stability. If I had used a better cooling system, I think I could have hit 1500+ without too many probs. With a voltage modification to my KT7A-R, perhaps 1600+ !!! Now remember, this chip is on sale for £148.05 ish from retailers - who would have thought that 1.4+ghz wouldve been possible at a sub £150 price, as little as a year ago? This is the ultimate x86 processor of the moment - it beats everything thrown at it, including the new Athlon 1.33ghz chip and the Pentium IV 1.6ghz. In my humble opinion, if you are looking for a top of the range processor at a reasonable price, look no further than this bad boy. If on a budget, stick it in a KT133A board (Abit KT7A-RAID highly recommended), and crank the FSB as far up as possible while using lower multipliers, in order to take advantage of PC133 RAM. If you are looking for the best machine on the market however, get a new Iwill or Asus DDR board, with some PC2100 DDR RAM, and all shall bow down to the uber-rig :-) It is still not fully known whether the upcoming SMP Socket A boards will take tbirds, but if it does, I imagine for many people, two AXIAs would prove an amazing setup. Coupled with DDR RAM, it would be truly fantastic!

Pros:

Fast - beats most other processors on the market

Cheap - can't beat £148 for 1.4-6ghz! Buy one for your cat!

Cons:

High temps - These chips run quite hot, you will need at least a Taisol or FOP-38 to get good speeds out of it.

Availability - You'll have to buy this from an overclockers store, as Dabs etc. probably don't stock them.

If you would like to try your luck try Dabs, or for a guaranteed AXIA check out OcUK