With Intel's 200MHz/800MHz platform plans out in the open for quite some time and their desktop roadmap well defined, it was no surprise that AMD would counter with something to match it especially with desktop AMD64 as a platform still some way off. We've already seen incremental platform boosts from AMD in recent months with the introduction of an extra 256KB of L2 cache memory to some of their processors and the move to 166MHz/333MHz front side bus on most of the upper end of their range.
So with Intel's recent Canterwood and Springdale platform launches along with a new processor and the introduction of the rest of that processor range near the end of this month, Intel are sitting strong in the run up to their fall releases. So it's no surprise to see another incremental platform improvement from AMD to keep pace with Intel until the utterly impressive Opteron makes it to the desktop in the form of Athlon64.
So given the previous pinnacle of the AMD consumer range of XP3000+ at 2167MHz on a 166MHz front side bus frequency, it doesn't take too many smarts to see what AMD's next step would be to keep toe to toe with Intel. And so it comes to pass (I watched LOTR recently), the release today of their latest incremental performance improvement for the Athlon XP range, XP3000+ and XP3200+ on a 200MHz front side bus frequency.
It's the XP3200+ that AMD kindly sent along for evaluation, clocked at 2.2GHz on an 11 multiplier and featuring the same 512KB of level 2 cache running at processor frequency as previous 'Barton' models.
The eagle eyed among you will also have noticed that the 200MHz front side bus operating frequency also requires chipset support and that's supplied, as with all recent AMD processor launches, by NVIDIA with their latest iteration of the very impressive nForce2 chipset. The new chipset is called nForce2 Ultra 400 and officially supports the 200MHz front side bus and memory frequencies that nForce2 has been 'unofficially' supporting for the last few months.
It's little more than a chipset refresh and the excuse for a renewed marketing push by NVIDIA, older nForce2 boards have been sitting pretty at 200MHz via the hands of the enthusiast for quite some time. I guess it's something that it's an official requirement now.
So it's more of a platform launch than a processor launch, especially with VIA expecting to enter the 200MHz fray with KT600 soon, but it's the processor we concentrate on with this article.
A new processor and new supporting platform to keep pace with Intel at the top of the consumer processing pile, how does the new processor do it?
Model 10 Barton goodness on a fat front side bus
I apologise for the lack of pictures in this review, digital camera hassles stop me from showing you yet another brown organic packaged processor with the lovely numbers "AXDA3200DKV4E, AQXCA0308MPMW" on it.