IntroductionAMD Athlon 64 Model 3400+ CPU Review
September 23, 2003 was a big day for AMD. Most hardware aficionados associate that date with the launch of the new, powerful AMD Athlon FX-51 CPU. Oodles of bandwidth, albeit with dual-channel ECC-regulated memory, a large L2 cache and on-die memory controller allowed it to easily match, and often best, the incumbent Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor. Most hardware-related websites carried extensive coverage of this 32- and 64-bit CPU. Most marvelled at its present ability in 32-bit code and relative futureproofing with 64-bit applications and OS'.
The general public at large, then, would put that day down as the FX-51's. However, AMD also sneakily added in another similar processor that made a mockery of MHz as a definitive indicator of performance. Overlooked by many initially, the ClawHammer Athlon 64, supporting much of what the FX-51 did but running with a regular, non-ECC single-channel memory architecture, proved to be more financially palatable. The Athlon 64 3200+ was the sole representative of the Socket-754 form factor. A number of factors made it an excellent CPU. Our own recent S754 motherboard reviews often alluded to just how fast the combination of CPU and either VIA or NVIDIA chipset were. We also had to note that one large failing was AMD's inability to service the lower end of the market with K8 goodness. For all the positive attributed lorded on the 3200+, price, unfortunately, wasn't one of them.
AMD likes to claim that the Athlon 64 3xxx+ CPUs are designed to compete with Intel's finest, whilst the FX-51 is reckoned to be a consumer-level performance leader. That's true for the most part, but with Intel busy readying the Prescott (the current Northwood's replacement), AMD will also want to strike the first blow of the next performance war. In AMD's shoes, given that your 'lesser' CPU is just as fast, if not faster than, the competition's, how do you extend your advantage. The simplest method is to increase pure clock speed. The 3200+ model ran at 2GHz.
The all-new AMD Athlon Model 3400+ carries on the good work but does it a little quicker. Running at 2.2GHz, is it a simple case of picking the cream of the yield and launching a faster CPU before the year is out ?, or has AMD worked some additional magic into the design. Let's investigate.