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Review: AMD Duron 900

by David Ross on 2 April 2001, 00:00


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qafj

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AMD Duron 900

The AMD Duron 850 has been out for a while, and now it is time for AMD to release their latest baby to crush the Intel market, the Duron 900 :)

The Duron CPU was aimed at the budget market, and we know it has done well. Most of the people who work for Hexus run Duron based systems, and some run TBirds. We have a few dedicated Intel'ers but I am sure they will come round (bugger off, my 166 fsb P3 rulez! - Robert/the ed).

Ever since the launch of the Slot A Athlon, Intel should have been worrying. Many of us didn't favour AMD until then, but since that launch, a lot of people have gone for gold. Intel tried to get back to competing with the Duron with the release of Celerons @ 100MHz bus, but this really failed to do anything massive for the company. I personally haven't heard anything about people buying Celerons over Durons for a while now.

AMD directly competed with Intel on the budget market. Two years ago Intel dominated the entire market, and AMD have quickly shot back with a series of new cores and architecture. If Intel's P4 had taken off, perhaps we would be in a different situation. I am not holding my breath, but I know that something will happen soon.

AMD have always been competitive on price, and I believe that they are dedicated to making sure that Intel will always be the expensive partner. The main issue that AMD have to overcome is that most companies will only go with Intel chipsets. Don't ask me why, but that's the way it is (Intel whore ed. again - one word, VIA). I hope to see AMD taking the business market with the movements in the Palomino area.

The Duron CPU seems unchanged from the other Durons which we have seen on the market from AMD. The only major difference which I noticed was the fact it is a red core. This is a good thing, meaning that if we are going by the way that the red Tbirds overclocked, this one should be a little beauty.

The Duron runs on the 100MHz Main FSB, but using AMD's step up issues, it delivers higher bandwidth of 200MHz inside the Core (EV6 DDR). The L1 Cache on the CPU (designated for Data and instructions, 64KB for each) and the Large 64KB L2 cache, means that the Duron is a cheap chip but has a VERY good performance. Right up there with the TBirds but under 1/2 the price ;)

Everyone knows that the Duron is faster than the Celeron, so there is no point in "comparing them" on the same level. This CPU will be the same ;)

- 25 million transistor 0.18-micron Duron core with aluminium interconnects
- 900MHz clock speed
- 9.0x multiplier
- 128KB on-die L1 cache (64KB Data 64KB Instructions)
- 64-bit exclusive 64KB on-die L2 cache running at clock speed
- 462-pin Socket A CPU interface @ 100MHz DDR (effectively 200MHz)
- 1.60v core voltage

(Basically the same as the previous Durons)


(Clickable for a larger image)


Before the release of the Duron, AMD had the budget market running of the K6x range of CPUs. These really were not up to scratch, and most people ended up going for the Intel option... even I did.

According to many large OEMs and distributors, the main reason that people won't go with the AMD Duron CPU compared with the Celeron is that the Integrated motherboards don't "exist", even though we know for a fact they do ;) Therefore Intel still has domination of the Retail market - but for how long?

In the next 6 months we will see a lot of changes. With the ending of the Duron and the TBird, and replacement of them by the Morgan and the Palomino. This will have a large effect on the market. AMD know that their cores run hot at the moment, but with the introduction of the new cores which should run 20% cooler, and the Palomino not even needing a fan on the heatsink, this will make a big difference! We will also see a lot of PowerNow stuff from AMD over the next 6 months, which will be a VERY big improvement in the laptop world.

The Main chipsets on the market are the KT133 and KT133A, both of which support the Durons and the TBirds. There is a Duron "based" chipset which will run the Core at 100MHz and the Memory at 133MHz, but this is yet to be widespread. AMD still do not "run" their own chipsets and most of the time people are happy to run VIA chipsets, even though VIA do not have the world's widest and favourable name. But it is still an excellent company to create chipsets. YES the Chipsets have glitches, but they are one of the best on the market.

AMD Testing System : -
Mobo - IWill KT133A Motherboard
Graphics Card - Asus Geforce Pure 64MB
Memory - 256MB Crucial PC133 Cas 2 RAM
Cooling - Hedgehog
HD - 18GB Quantum Atlas 10K II
CD/DVD - Teac 32X CD ROM
Sound - SB Live 1024
Network - Intel Pro 100 Management

Intel Testing System :-
Mobo - Abit VP6 / Asus P3V4X for Celerons 2s
Graphics Card - Asus Geforce Pure 64MB
Memory - 256MB Crucial PC133 Cas 2 RAM
Cooling - Hedgehog
HD - 18GB Quantum Atlas 10K II
Sound - Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Network - 10/100 3Com Management Card.

All tests were run with the graphics card at default clock speeds and at 1024*768.

Some Results :

As you can see here the TBirds are the top performer but the Duron 900 is very close, with a little overclocking / performance tweaking that will seriously push this CPU up there to compete with the TBirds, Intels P3 866 is a very good performer but it is nearly 3 times the price.

Here the TBirds beat all of them by far but the Duron 900 is performing very well it is making a big impact on the TBird market especially at the estimated street price, this CPU is a real bargain.

All the CPUs are very close within each other, there isn't a massive difference here, but the Duron 900 is up there with the TBird 850 this is a surprising result as I would expect the less cache to have an impact on the overall performance on this test.

Here all of the results are pretty much even the Duron 900 is just a slight bit slower than the TBird 900 but on comparison this is nothing in "Real World Tests"

(Clickable for a larger image)


As we have said before, the AMD Duron CPU is an excellent budget CPU for the home and office computer. It may not be the best CPU for processor intensive games, but by no means is it slow in them. At this price and speed this CPU is a GREAT buy. This CPU does overclock OK. It doesn't smash any records, it does do OK, but for the sake of the extra money get a Duron 850 or similar, as they will be cheaper and you will hit the same speeds. Even though the core is red, it isn't that stable at high speeds. Despite that, we could run the CPU in a KT133A at 120Mhz bus and 8.0X multiplier - still a nice speed. With the more widespread use of KM133 motherboards, the Durons could take off into being major competitors to Intel in the Retail and OEM business.

With the launch of the Samuel III CPU by VIA/Cyrix last week in CeBIT, I don't see any worries from AMD. According to the VIA contact we spoke to, the CPU still has major FPU issues and these wont be resolved until the new breed of CPUs are launched... the Samuel IV ? :)

I look forward to testing the Morgan Core based Duron, which is supposed to be a lot cooler in its running temperature. Over the next 6 months I can see a lot of changes coming from AMD, but most will be good. We might even see another CPU price war! :)