AMD's Socket 939 Offers More with Much of the Same


A look at the benchmark results reveals that there are only few areas where Intel dominates. While the synthetic benchmarks often speak in favor of Intel's 3+ Gigahertz chips, there are only few real-life applications left that run better with Intel inside: audio/video encoding and some rendering applications. Games and multimedia applications have already been a domain of AMD's Athlon64, and the new Socket 939 processors underscored that fact.

The new Athlons have proven to be very fast - and expensive as well. In consideration of the benchmark results of Athlon64 3800+ and the FX-53, we need to call into question whether it actually makes sense to keep the latter. Both performance and price differences are so small that we can't help but wondering. At least the AMD premium processor is not as expensive as Intel's P4EE: We expect the FX-53 to be available at around $780, while the P4 Extreme Edition at 3.4 GHz can hardly be purchased for less than $1,000.

But the battle is no longer fought in terms of performance only, as the differences are getting smaller. Features and value are what count. While Intel offers HyperThreading and the SSE3 extensions, AMD scores with 64 bit capabilities, Cool & Quiet and its virus-protecting NX bit.

Most will agree that both SSE3 and the AMD64 extensions are more or less useless today. So HyperThreading is left to stand against Cool & Quiet and NX. It's a matter of personal taste if you consider HyperThreading extremely important or if you prefer to have a CPU that runs cool when you don't need lots of processing power. With regard to the disproportionate power consumption of modern processors and the prospect of getting dual-core processors next year, Cool & Quiet looks like a must-have feature today.

So we got a new and powerful platform from AMD, but what about those of us who don't have at least $500 to spend on a processor? Adding one or two cheaper Socket 939 processors would be likely to increase its attractiveness even more.