Hot Microprocessor News

We Call Them 'Modelizers'

What do you think of, when you hear the word model? I guess the majority would associate the same as I and think of beautiful curves, nice hair, soft skin ... The married ones of you might think of cars and different engine sizes. Well, AMD is gonna give us 'models', but it ain't any sexy chicks and it ain't anything for picking up sexy chicks either.

The next Athlon, which besides still remains nameless (It won't be 'Athlon4', but it may be 'AthlonXP'), will use the 'Palomino' core, as we all know. The 'Palomino' core is currently available as 'AthlonMP ' in SMP configurations and as 'Mobile Athlon4 ' in notebooks. Its launch as normal desktop processor has been expected for weeks now, but we will have to wait a bit longer, since AMD found some issues with Palomino running at 133 MHz (266 MHz DDR) FSB on many motherboards, specifically on those with VIA north bridges. There won't be any 100/200 MHz FSB Palomino-Athlons, so that AMD requires that all future Palomino-motherboards have their LCL-filters (for the INCLK bus signals) altered, which won't make motherboard makers happy and which will take some time.

This time is required anyhow, because the new Athlon won't be specified by its clock speed anymore. AMD is having very rigorous plans. It starts with the printing on the chip. Future Athlons will be specified by 'MODEL' numbers . For instance a Palomino-Athlon that runs at 1.4 GHz will be MODEL 1600, because AMD considers Palomino 1.4 GHz to be at least as fast as a Pentium 4 1.6 GHz. The printing on the chip will be 'A1600 .....', even though its a 1400 MHz part only. The same is valid for motherboards and their POST. A new BIOS Writer's Guide prohibits the BIOS from ever displaying the true core frequency of Palomino! It has to display the MODEL number instead. Unfortunately, H. Oda's WCPUID still reports the actual clock frequency and even WindowsXP is still reporting the clock rather than the MODEL number. It is unlikely that AMD can force Microsoft into changing WindowsXP code, now that it has just gone Gold.

I don't want to comment much on this issue, because I can very well understand AMD's difficult position. Something has to be done about the clock frequency issue, but I don't feel that this return of the dreaded PR-rating in form of MODELS is going to be a very good idea.

OEMs are already voicing their concerns. They are afraid that customers who bought a MODEL 1600 could sue the PC-maker once they discovered that the processor inside is only running at 1400 MHz. It might not come to that, but the introduction of MODEL-numbers instead of real clock frequency will create a lot of confusion. I hope that AMD will reconsider. Maybe the last word hasn't been spoken yet. I suggest AMD runs some kind of reader contest on their website, collecting suggestions for how it could tackle the clock frequency problem. This won't cost much and it might bring us a better solution than the return of the dreaded PR-rating.