AMD Barton

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Barton includes 512k of on-die L2 cache, but since most gaming data isn’t replicated until you get to MUCH larger cache sizes (the 36 Mb of the PA-RISC 8700 comes to mind) it doesn’t significantly improve gaming performance. In addition, it brings the total cache size up to 640k but makes exactly zero other improvements. In other words, on a clock-for-clock basis, Intel’s total of 512k of cache is still four times faster (comparing 2 GHz to 2 GHz or whatever other clock rate), it still maintains the same associativity as the T-bred and even to the Palimino and T-birds before it, plus cache snoops take forever since they have to check two caches … you get my point?

Barton is a fifth-generation Athlon procesor released in early 2003 with PR ratings of 2500+, 2600+, 2800+, 3000+, and 3200+.

Yes, the 3000+ will mop the floor with the Pentium 4 Northwood with 80-bit precision x87 arithmatic, but, frankly, the 64-bit precision SSE(2) floating point unit on the Pentium 4 quite mops the floor with the with Athlon. Keeping in mind, newer games are SSE2 optimzied and older ones frankly don’t need that much uumpf (I personally don’t care if my video card is spitting out more fps than my monitor can possibley display, would you?) which would you rather go with for pure gaming?

Additionally, if you read up the chip itself, you will find that the 3000+ Barton Athlon has exactly the same clock speed as the 2700+ T-bred core(2.167 GHz), and the 2800+ Barton is the same clock speed as … you guessed it, the 2600+ core (1.083). This means that in non-cache friendly applications, the 3000+ part will actually perform slower than the 2800+ part.

The Barton core is just to keep AMD in the game with Intel until they can get Hammer out of the door, since AMD will be competing this summer against Prescott and an 800 MHz FSB on the Canterwood chipset, the first one to have SATA-150 standard. Barton does not outperform the Pentium 4 with the exception of, like I said before, 80-bit x87 (which we’ve known about forever). Another thing to keep in mind, AMD might not be able to afford another round past the Hammer. Their marketshare versus Intel now is down in the neighborhood of where it was before the Athlon classic was released. Yeah, they’re that low. AMD doesn’t have the R&D spending to go another round against Intel, who has over 50% marketshare of all semiconductors, worldwide. One other piece of information … by 2005 (or possibly later, Intel will release Xeons with IA-64. Yeah, remember those chips that hold the record in SPEC_fp and we would really like to see in a gaming rig? They’re coming down Intel’s pipe. And Intel has the money to work with them to make them work.

AMD’s biggest fear right now though would be if Intel were to release a desktop CPU with IA-64 and decent 32-bit support. This would crush AMD’s x86-64 immediately, no questions asked. But I’m getting ahead of myself …

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