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AMD Athlon64 3200+ 32/64-bit Processor Review

AMD Athlon64 3200+ 32/64-bit Processor Review  - PCSTATS
Abstract: Tired of being an "Intel clone," AMD's goal became to set market trends, instead of just following the lead of chipzilla.
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AMD Sep 23 2003   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > AMD Athlon64 3200+

Internal Memory Controller and HyperTransport

One of the largest problems in modern computer design is the presence of bottlenecks, or areas of low performance which slow an otherwise fast system down.

In most modern computers, data intended for video or main memory needs to be passed to and through the Northbridge chip on the motherboard, and data from other sources like USB connections, PCI slots or hard-drives must pass through the Southbridge chip, then the Northbridge.

With the amount of information that needs to be squeezed through the various data buses into the processor to be operated on, bottlenecks inevitably develop, where the processor is waiting for the necessary bits to be delivered by the I/O subsystem feeding it.

Processors get consistently faster every few months, while data bus breakthroughs are irregular, the issue perpetuates itself.

AMD has attempted to get around this constant problem by equipping its 64-bit processors with two advantages, internal DDR memory controllers and Hypertransport links. AMD has built the memory controller (normally a part of the motherboard to which the processor is attached), directly into their Opteron and Athlon 64 CPUs.

As you can imagine, this considerably reduces the time it takes the processor to access memory, since data need only travel between the processor and the physical memory. Communication with the controller that arranges the data flow does not need to be passed outside the processor, reducing the amount of computing cycles lost while waiting for the memory to respond.

Another benefit is the fact that memory traffic need no longer run between the processor and the Northbridge. The Northbridge traditionally provides the memory controller with data, and removing this bottleneck increases overall operations.The second part of the package is support for Hypertransport input/output technology.

The Athlon64 Chipsets

As you would expect, all the usual suspects have come up with chipset designs for the Athlon 64. AMD (of course), VIA, SIS, Nvidia and Ali all have chipsets ready. ATI has announced that they are going to support the new AMD processors in a future chipset, but details are still slim.

Designing chipsets for the Athlon 64 processor means that these companies have to change a few of the design methods that they have become used to. For one thing, the Athlon64's integrated support for Hypertransport technology means that conventional means of connecting the Northbridge (memory and graphics controller) chip to the CPU will have to change, as the Athlon 64 needs a Hypertransport bus to feed it information.

For another, the memory controller, resident in the Northbridge chip on conventional chipsets, will now be integrated into the CPU itself, as the Athlon64 has it built into the actual die. Hence the memory bus is now an independent path between the CPU and the RAM, shared by nothing. A two-way Hypertransport link replaces the conventional 'front-side bus' design of the memory in which separate pathways are provided for the memory, AGP information and all other data from the other I/O subsystems like the PCI bus (via the Southbridge chip).

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Contents of Article: AMD Athlon64 3200+
 Pg 1.  AMD Athlon64 3200+ 32/64-bit Processor Review
 Pg 2.  105.9 Million Transistors
 Pg 3.  Understanding SOI
 Pg 4.  The limitations of 32-bit
 Pg 5.  — Internal Memory Controller and HyperTransport
 Pg 6.  Chipsets for the Athlon 64 processor
 Pg 7.  VIA K8M800, AMD 8000 chipsets
 Pg 8.  Nvidia Nforce3 Pro150, SIS 755
 Pg 9.  ALI 1687 chipset
 Pg 10.  New Thermal Solutions for the Athlon64
 Pg 11.  Socket 754/940 Heatsink Frame
 Pg 12.  Overclocking, it's all new now
 Pg 13.  System Spec's and Benchmarks
 Pg 14.  Benchmarks: Super Pi, POVRay
 Pg 15.  Benchmarks: ScienceMark2.0, SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 16.  Benchmarks: PCMark 2002, 3DMark2001SE
 Pg 17.  Benchmarks: AquaMark3, Quake III Arena
 Pg 18.  Benchmarks: UT2003, Conclusions

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