Fast Computer On The Cheap? The Sempron 3100+ On Overdrive

32 Bit Is Ok Too: Sempron 3100+

As mentioned, there will be more Sempron processors to come for both AMD platforms, to compete with Intel's Celeron line. Processors with average performance are easily good enough for the run-of-the-mill, everyday office environment, so systems of this kind are sold at the most attractive prices.

The other reason why this will continue is that selling pared-down CPUs is a way of increasing production yield. The more transistors a chip has, the higher the risk that individual defects can make the chip unusable. AMD offers the Sempron with only 256 kB L2 cache while the Athlon 64s use 512 kB or even 1 MB, so its yield will be higher.

We believe that the Sempron 3100+ has the full 512 kB L2 cache but that it is deactivated. This allows selling even CPUs with defects in the unused cache area. As soon as Sempron production is converted over to 90 nm, AMD may however make a redesigned processor that truly only has 256 kB L2 cache. The total number you can get on a wafer will then be higher.

A further difference compared to the Athlon 64 is the deactivated 64 bit instruction set. For low-priced processors this has actually been unnecessary so far, since more than 4 GB memory has never been needed, and there is still little software available that uses 64 bit instructions.