Changing Of The Guard: Four Athlon Motherboards For DDR400

Bringing Hope: Athlon XP 2600+

For a few months, it really looked as if AMD had lost its chance at catching up with Intel. With the Athlon XP 2100+ (1733 MHz), the Palomino processor core reached the end of its service - more clock speed is simply not possible without reducing reliability.

It was only with the launch of the Thoroughbred (the Athlon core that was shrunk from 0.18 µm to 0.13 µm) that made it possible to increase the clock to 1800 MHz (2200+). However, this turned out to be quite sobering: for one thing, the new processor was not significantly faster than its predecessor. For another thing, this CPU was hardly overclockable, which implied a meager production yield. In short, AMD could not hold its own against the Pentium 4 models of up to 2.53 GHz.

Nevertheless, AMD has responded - an overhauled Thoroughbred core (the "B" version) is now available with Athlon XP 2400+ and 2600+ (2 and 2.13 GHz), and it probably won't be much longer until faster versions come out. Also, an increase in the FSB clock from 266 MHz to 333 MHz (double data rate) is pending. And with respect to the chipsets, there's no problem with this because the VIA's KT333 as well as KT400 support a 333 MHz system clock.

The test of the Athlon XP 2600+ clearly showed that AMD was back in the same league as Intel. Although the Pentium 4 with 2.8 GHz currently sets the standard, Intel's firm dominance is over, for the time being.