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Barton's Here: Athlon XP 3000+ vs. P4 3.06 GHz

New CPUs With Barton Core: Athlon XP 2500+/ 2800+/ 3000+

Athlon cores compared: the Thoroughbred, left, and the Barton, right. Except for the additional L2 cache and the adjusted L2 TAG, there are no differences. SSE code is still accepted - but SSE2 is not.

Besides the new top model XP 3000+ at 2166 MHz, there are two more CPUs: the Athlon XP 2500+ and the XP 2800+, which have clock rates of, 1833 MHz and 2083 MHz, respectively. They all work with 166 MHz FSB speed, although a suitable motherboard, including an updated BIOS, is necessary.

The basic requirement for successful operation is a board with the VIA KT333 chipset, NVIDIA NForce2 or a SiS-746 chip. Further confusion awaits resellers and dealers already plagued by the economic crisis, because, whereas an Athlon XP 2600+ used to run without a problem in a motherboard with 133 MHz FSB speed, a new Athlon XP 2500+ cannot, since 166 MHz support is a prerequisite.

Perhaps for the last time, with 462 pins: the Barton Athlon is still based on the socket A platform.

The current deluxe model: Athlon XP 3000+. The XP 3200+, which should defy the P4 at 3.2 GHz will follow later.

Yet, AMD has not made a fundamental redesign of the Thoroughbred core, as happened in the transition from the Palomino, but has only added 128 kB to each of two L2 cache units and adapted the address (L2 TAG). As a result, 512 kB of L2 cache are available; therefore, compared to the type "B" Thoroughbred, the structure is almost identical.

In the run-up to the benchmark tests at THG, the question came up of whether the ageing Athlon architecture could profit that much from the L2 cache expansion. After all, enlarging the cache comes nearly five years after the launch of the first CPU. We'll let the benchmarks answer that question, but it is a critical component of what Barton adds to the Athlon legacy.

Retail packaging of the Athlon XP: the little guy is not included, but he fits in well with the colors. The "333 MHz FSB" tells you that there is at least one Thoroughbred Athlon in the package.