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AMD Athlon 900MHz processor Review

AMD Athlon 900MHz processor Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: We take a look at AMD's new Athlon 900MHz processor.
 88% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AMD Mar 12 2000   C. T.  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > AMD Athlon 900MHz


In the race to 1GHz it seems that the 900MHz Athlon has been all but forgotten.  In the course of 3 months AMD has released the Athlon 800, 850, 900, 950, and 1000Mhz processors, so you can see how it could be easily fall through the cracks.  The 900MHz doesn't share the mystique of the 1GHz, but of course it doesn't cost near as much either.  In this review I'll take a look at the 900MHz Athlon and compare it to the 750 and 600MHz versions.  First let's take a look at the Athlon specs.

athlon.jpg (53428 bytes)

  • 7th Generation design

  • 9 Operations per clock cycle

  • 3 Integer pipelines

  • 3 Floating point pipelines

  • 3 Full x86 decoders

  • 128KB L1 cache

  • 512KB L2 cache (off die)

  • 200MHz System bus speed

  • 1.6GB/s peak bus bandwidth

  • Enhanced 3DNow!

  • 45 3DNow! instructions

  • ~22 million transistors per die

Impressive specs when they were unveiled back in June, and they still are today.  Here's a diagram of the architecture of the Athlon.  I won't make an attempt to even explain how everything works.  For more info I suggest visiting the Athlon technical documents page at AMD.


I first came across the 900MHz Athlon at Comdex back in November.  AMD was showing a 900MHz system that was air cooled at the time.   I didn't expect to see it released until the 2nd or 3rd quarter, but now a mere 4 months later I am reviewing it.  Now the design of the Athlon has allowed for a quick ramp up in MHz, but there are a few changes that may not be apparent on the outside.  Let's take a look at a few key specs of the Athlon 900 and compare them to the 600 and 750 MHz models.


  Model 1/2? L2 Cache divisor/speed Core Voltage Max/Typical Watts
900MHz Model 2 .18 Micron 1/3 300MHz 1.8 60/53
750MHz Model 2 .18 Micron 2/5 300MHz 1.6 45/40
600MHz Model 1 .25 Micron 1/2 300MHz 1.6 50/45


A quick look at the above chart will tell you several things.  The 900MHz is of course a model 2, or K75 core.  This means that it was made with the .18 micron process.  Next take a look at the L2 cache speed.  As speeds of the Athlon has gone up, speeds of L2 cache sadly, have not.  There is just not enough high speed SRAM available to keep the L2 cache divisor at 2/5 or 360MHz, much less the 450MHz that would be required for a 1/2 divisor.  This has forced AMD change the cache divisor to keep speeds at 300MHz.  This will have a negative effect on performance and will cause diminishing returns as speeds rise.  Now take a look at the core voltage.  AMD has used a little trick long used by the overclocker.  They have raised the core voltage .2V to 1.8V.  Raising it helps stabilize the CPU at higher speeds, but also raises the heat put off by the processor.  Lastly, take a look at the watts of the Athlon 900.  The maximum watts has increased a full 33% over the 750MHz model.  This is merely a by-product of the MHz race with *ntel. 

© 2020 PCSTATS.com Next Page >


Contents of Article: AMD Athlon 900MHz
 Pg 1.  — AMD Athlon 900MHz processor Review
 Pg 2.  Picking Up The 900 and First Impressions
 Pg 3.  Overclocking and Test System Specifications
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: RC5 Cracking, Seti@Home, Quake Arena
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Bapco Sysmark, Sisoft Sandra, ZD Winstone 99 and CC
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: 3DMark 2000
 Pg 7.  Conclusion

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