IntroductionAMD Athlon 64 FX-53 CPU Review
AMD managed to do quite a few things on September 23rd of last year. That was the release date for the Athlon 64 FX-51 CPU and Athlon 64 Model 3200+ processor. Previously, AMD's consumer-level performance champion had been the Barton XP3200+, which often managed to give the Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor, replete with HT goodness and an equivalent 200MHz Front-Side Bus interface, a close match in benchmarks. AMD knew that the Barton core was coming to an architectural ceiling and that the Pentium 4, in Prescott guise, would soon be released to anticipated acclaim.
AMD's solution, as you will no doubt know, relied on harnessing the technology present in the server-level Opteron CPUs that had been engineered to meet the Xeon head on. It appeared that AMD's thoughts on performance increases lay in making the CPU better in most areas, that is, to do more work in a single clock cycle. AMD, unlike Intel, chose not to place too great a reliance on pure MHz as the biggest driving factor.
Two distinct CPUs were born from the server-class Opteron, namely the Athlon 64 FX-51 and Athlon 64 Model 3200+. The latter two, as you find out if you peruse the links, share a number of architectural similarities, including, amongst others, a larger L2 cache, Silicon-On-Insulator technology, integrated memory controller (2 x 64-bit for the FX-51 and a single 64-bit for the Model 3200+), SSE2 support, and HyperTransport links. What both CPUs also have is the ability to run 64-bit applications (AMD's x86-64 ISA), given the right environment. The sum total of the FX-51's attributes, evaluated primarily in 32-bit mode, showed it to be, arguably, the fastest consumer-level CPU available, even with Intel's fledgling Pentium 4 Extreme Edition taken into account.
That assertion was true in September '03. It's now March '04 and Intel have released a multitude of CPUs recently. The Pentium 4 Prescott has been welcomed with muted applause and faster variants of the regular Northwood and Extreme Editions are now freely available. AMD, too, has bumped up the speed on the single-channel Clawhammer 754-pin processor (is this getting confusing enough?) to 2.2GHz and labelled it as a Model 3400+. All this activity puts the FX-51's position as head honcho in doubt. 'When in doubt bump up the clock speed' is a trick that works more often than not. You won't be surprised to learn that we're looking at the AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 CPU today. The incumbent clocked in at 2.2GHz, the FX-53 raises the bar to 2.4GHz. Will that be enough against the beefed-up competition?. Let's find out.