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AMD Athlon 64 vs. Intel Atom

Athlon Vs. Atom: Duel Of The Energy Savers

AMD and Intel both use 300 mm wafer disks in their production lines. At 77 mm², the Athlon 64 2000+ is more than three times larger than the Atom at 24 mm², which means Intel can produce and sell three times as many CPUs. in fact, Intel can get about 2,500 processors per wafer, while AMD can get only about 800.

Intel vs. AMD
CPU Atom Athlon 64
Power 4 Watts 8 Watts
Transistors 47 million 122 million
Size 24.18 mm² 77.2 mm²
Core Voltage 1.088 V 0.900 V

The Athlon 64 2000+ has 122 million transistors, and the Atom 230 only 47 million. If you look at the relationship between the number of transistors and energy consumption, a single Athlon 64 transistor uses less energy than an Atom transistor, even though Intel produces it using a 45 nm process while AMD relies on 65 nm manufacturing.

The Athlon 64 2000+ (OPN ADF2000IAV4DRE) runs on the Lima core at stepping G0. The HyperTransport frequency is 1000 MHz. This, of course, saves additional energy versus AMD’s more modern Phenom X3 and X4 CPUs. The Athlon 64 is on the same level as the Atom in terms of multimedia extensions, and the 64-bit instruction set has also been implemented.

Function Comparison Of The Intel And AMD CPU Series
Functions Pentium Dual-Core Celeron 220 Atom Z5 Series Atom N270 Atom 230 Athlon 64 2000+
Core Allendale Conroe-L Silverthorne Diamondville Diamondville Lima
Manufacturing 65 nm 65 nm 45 nm 45 nm 45 nm 65 nm
Socket 775 479 441 437 437 940
L1-Cache 32-KB Data 32-KB Instr. 32-KB Data 32-KB Instr. 32-KB Instr. 24-KB WB Data 32-KB Instr. 24-KB WB Data 32-KB Instr. 24-KB WB Data 64-KB Data 64-KB Instr.
L2-Cache 1MB 512 KB 512 KB 512 KB 512 KB 512 KB
FSB 200 MHz (800QDR) 133 MHz (533QDR) 100 MHz (400QDR) 133 MHz (533QDR) 133 MHZ (533QDR) 133 MHZ (533QDR) 200 MHz 1000HTT
64 Bit EM64T EM64T EM64T EM64T EM64T X86-64
HyperThreading - - Yes Yes Yes -
Virtualization VT - VT - - -
Energy Saving C1E Speedstep - C1E Speedstep C1E Speedstep - -
Thermal Monitor TM1&2 TM1&2 TM1&2 TM1&2 TM1&2 -
Virus Protection XD bit XD bit XD bit XD bit XD bit XD bit

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  • 4 Hide
    wh3resmycar , August 15, 2008 9:16 AM
    oh please, spare me those kind of crap...

    clearly the 780g platforms owns any nvidia/intel chipset to date.

    about the article:

    this is a winner, i mean this is like the ultimate HTPC setup you can ever heat/power worries just plain movie enjoyment :D 
  • -8 Hide
    tai_anjing_lu , August 15, 2008 9:17 AM
    Believe it or not, my Sempron 1100 OC could kill the ugly Intel Q9550+ :lol
  • 5 Hide
    barathn , August 15, 2008 9:32 AM
    Nice article.. surprising to see AMD doing better than Intel ATOM
  • 7 Hide
    guusdekler , August 15, 2008 9:44 AM
    Tom's choice of AMD hardware is a bit shortsighted in my opinion.
    There exist a lot more options that the matx board of his choice.

    Let me name some of the MINI-ITX boards there are for AMD AM2 AM2+:
    - Albatron KI690-AM2
    - AOpen NMCP68ST-LA
    - JetWay NC62K-LF
    - MSI Fuzzy 690T

    Allricht they employ a different chipset than the 780G but still very competetive as i derive this information from a dutch hardware magazine that tested these boards against intel's solution and especially the AOpen and MSI boards beat the crap out of intel's D201GLY2 board.
  • 3 Hide
    apache_lives , August 15, 2008 11:45 AM
    see this is what AMD is all about!!!!!!!!!!!

    Intel - produces first generation, limited, expensive and unflexible setups, AMD creates a cheaper flexible option for the masses, which kicks Intel back in line.

    This opens the low power platform up to all new ideas, and allows vista to run properly thanks to the video performance etc, and ram support.

    Nice one AMD!
  • 3 Hide
    venteras , August 15, 2008 12:46 PM
    I agree with photoguru, this is a pointless comparison. If you don't use the same form factor, i.e. mini-itx for both of them then what's the point? Unless if you want to disregard size and only compare performance/watt. However, since the whole point of the ATOM is to go 'smaller'... yeah, whatever.
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , August 15, 2008 12:47 PM
    I must say I'm a bit surprised at the results. It's good to see that perhaps there's more life (and use) left in Athlon64s than we'd previously thought, if they make ideal low-power CPUs. Likewise, it's a surprise to find a place where AMD trumps Intel in the performance-per-watt sector, which is always important; I can perhaps imagining chips like the 2000+ and Atom being used for low-maintenance servers and datacenters, where PPW has always outweighed raw performance, since it's infinitely easier to buy more chips than to upgrade the local power grid.

    Now, if only Intel would develop an Atom-specific chipset that didn't consume copious amounts of memory. If AMD can get low-end GPU power sufficient for high-def decoding (regardless of what the CPU is) in under a single watt, certainly Intel could make a chipset that can handle all that is done by the 945GC and its laughable GMA 950 in even less power, since we're talking a less-complex design that has considerably less graphics power on hand, as well as the fact that Intel has access to 45nm production right now, while AMD is still stuck with 55nm. If only the chipset for an Atom didn't have several times the thermal envelope of the CPU...
  • 0 Hide
    optimizer , August 15, 2008 12:53 PM

    Well, the article clearly mentioned the price differential between the two platforms. Although I don't have direct information on the chipset die sizes, for the processors themselves, the Athlon is going to be much more expensive to produce, and the motherboard for it, too. So yeah, the two products are in different price classes. As far as comparing the platforms though, it is a fair comparison if you are interested in the lowest-power platforms the two companies are offering right now, because Intel just doesn't have an Atom board with the same features out. So if someone wants a low-power board/processor, these would be two of the main choices, and if you do a comparison based on that, the Athlon seems like a pretty good deal if you are not space-constrained.


    Lets be fair, at least in this instance, the AMD solution, while more flexible, more powerful, etc., is not a cheaper option. I do like the fact, though, that K8 still has some life in it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2008 12:57 PM
    this actualy still is a niche amd beats intel in hehe. pretty good there chipset uses amazingly little power and so dous there energy efficient athlon. i hope they might launch there deneb soon. no i dont think it will strangle the core i7 but it might deliver good preformance for an affordable price.i dont have 999 euro to pay for some core2 extreme you know im not rich but if you want to support me feel free to give me one :D 
  • 3 Hide
    justjc , August 15, 2008 1:00 PM
    @photoguru: The article has nothing to do with building the best HTPC or form factors.
    The article is clearly about AMDs soon to come answer to Intels Atom, the AMD Athlon 64 2000+, and how it on existing hardware(a Gigabyte 780G motherboard) can beat the Atom in both energy efficiency and processing power.
    I admire guusdeklers work finding AM2 boards in the mITX formfactor to answer photoguros complaint, however there is no need to use the less effective 690t chipset when boards like the J & W Minix 780G-SP128MB Mini ITX 780G Motherboard allready provides a mITX motherboard based on the 780G chipset :) 
  • -7 Hide
    BSMonitor , August 15, 2008 1:41 PM
    Bert and Theo spend all their time trying to flame Intel. Any article they write is slanted that way.
  • 3 Hide
    KyleSTL , August 15, 2008 2:08 PM
    $90 for the 2000+? That seems ungodly expensive for what it is. I guess it's a cherry-picked single core to be able to lower the Vcore that much.

    Also, a little editing goes a long way, on the test configuration page the graphics card (8800GTX) claims to have 786MB 384-bit GDDR4 ram. I don't think so .... :p 
  • 3 Hide
    knickle , August 15, 2008 2:13 PM
    Every time I see a new article about the Atom, I get my hopes up that there will be an actual comparison to others in the MiniITX market. Every time I get my hopes up, I am disappointed with benchmarks using apples and oranges. Where is VIA in all this? They have been doing MiniITX long before Intel, and the boards include their own manufactured CPU.

    I guess I can keep dreaming.
  • 2 Hide
    hurbt , August 15, 2008 2:19 PM
    Hmm... I'm usually more interested in the fastest, latest, greatest thing out there, but this article has me interested more in how efficient these things can get... as a prospective notebook purchaser.

    Nice article... Clearly in favor of the AMD, which performs better and uses less power... there's no fanboy there. I'll be interested to see how efficient the AMD's can get when (or if) they go to 45nm production.
  • 3 Hide
    invlem , August 15, 2008 2:26 PM
    While the motherboard comparison is a bit odd, seeing as they are in vastly different classes. There is one thing people do seem to be overlooking.

    The 780g motherboard, which contains a hell of a lot more graphics power and expansion capabilities. Is much more energy efficient than Intel's, stripped down ITX model which is being sold with their super energy efficient processor.

    Its a massive oversight on Intel to create a so-called energy efficient solution, with an obviously very energy IN-efficient motherboard.

    If AMD is serious in this market they could easily make a 'lite' version of the 780g, (If they were to half the SATA ports, and cut back on some of the expansion slots, ITX sizing the 780g would be a cinch).

    Now if only they could get their high performance parts up to par as well :p 
  • 0 Hide
    JerryC , August 15, 2008 2:33 PM
    Score one for AMD when they so desperately need it.
  • 1 Hide
    piesquared , August 15, 2008 2:39 PM
    Welcome to SOI. ;) 
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