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ASUS Maximus III Gene Motherboard

ASUS M4A79T Deluxe Motherboard

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Athlon 64 FX-51 Review

Lian Li PC37 Aluminum Mini Tower Case ...............

Abit IS7-G Motherboard Review 

AOpen AX4C Max Review

Promise S150 TX4 RAID Controller

Silent Power Supplies Reviewed

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ASUS V9900 Ultra Review

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AMD Athlon XP3200+ CPU Review

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ASUS P4SDX Deluxe Motherboard

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Pinnacle Systems: Edition DV500

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Leadtek K7NCR18D-Pro

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PAPST Fans (Silent PC Part2)

AMD Athlon XP2700+ CPU

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Hyper-Threading Technology Guide

PURE Digital SonicXplosion Sound Card

PURE Digital ZXR-500 Speaker System

Logitech Z-560 4.1-Speaker System

Global Win GAT-001 Case Review ....................

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz Review

Belkin Omniview 4-Pt. KVM Switch + Audio

AKASA Paxmate Acoustic Matting Installation Guide

Chieftec Winner Series: WX-01BD Case Review ..........

Cooler Master ATC-710 Case Review

80mm -> 60mm Fan Adapter

TDK USB Bluetooth Adaptor

Socket-A Cooler Roundup 

Promise FastTrak SX4000 RAID Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMD Athlon 64 FX 51 23rd September 2003

  1. Introduction

  2. Layout

  3. Specifications

  4. Test Setup

  5. Sisoft Sandra

  6. PCMark 2002

  7. 3DMark 2001

  8. Unreal Tournament 2003

  9. Video Encoding

  10. Audio Encoding

  11. Conclusion

Before we get started we need to explain the format of our reviews over the past six months. Readers will have noted that an entire review is laid out on one long page instead of 15-20 short pages. While it takes longer for a single page of this length to load we have designed the layout so that text appears first and graphics last so you can start reading before completion of loading. We decided not to split over 15-20 pages as many people find it annoying to have interruptions once they start getting into a review. It also means you can use the search option in the menu bar to go straight to parts that are of interest. We'd like our readers to let us know which method they prefer by providing feedback in our Forums. In any case, by the time you finish reading this paragraph the page should have mostly loaded.

 

Introduction

 

It's been a long time in coming but the world's first consumer 64-bit processor is finally here. Named the Athlon64 FX 51 and running at 2.2GHz, can it win back the performance crown from Intel's flagship P4s and compete with the forthcoming Prescott CPUs?

 

Layout

 

We see in the above diagram that the AMD64 Core eliminates the 4GB barrier we encounter with today's 32bit systems, good news for those of us who use memory intensive programs. 

 

 

Specifications

Here are the manufacturer's specifications:

Features

 

AMD Athlon™ 64 FX

 

 

 

Architecture Introduction

 

2003

 

 

 

Infrastructure

 

Socket 940

 

 

 

Process Technology

 

0.13 Micron, SOI

 

 

 

Number of Transistors

 

105.9 Million

 

 

 

64-bit Instruction Set Support

 

Yes,
AMD64 technology

 

 

 

32-bit Instruction Set Support

 

Yes

 

 

 

System Bus Technology

 

HyperTransport™ technology @ up to 1600 MHz
Full duplex

 

 

 

Integrated DDR Memory Controller (MCT)

 

Yes,
128-bit + 16-bit ECC
PC3200*, PC 2700, PC 2100, or PC1600

 

 

 

Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth

 

HyperTransport bandwidth: up to 6.4 GB/s
Memory bandwidth: up to 6.4 GB/s
Total: up to 12.8 GB/s

 

 

 

Integrated Northbridge

 

Yes,
128-bit data path @ CPU core frequency

 

 

 

High-Performance, On-chip Cache

 

L1: 128KB
L2: 1024KB (exclusive)
Total Effective Cache: 1152KB

 

 

 

3D and Multimedia Instructions

 

3DNow!™ Professional technology, SSE2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Test Setup

 

Here's a summary of the test system:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-51 Processor

  • Asus SK8N Motherboard featuring NVIDIA NForce3 Pro 150 Chipset

  • 2x 512MB PC3200 CL2.5 ECC Registered Memory

  • Leadtek WinFast A350 Ultra TDH (GeForce FX5900 Ultra)

  • Onboard 10/100 Ethernet

  • Onboard 6 Channel Audio

  • Dual Western Digital WD360 36GB 10,000RPM Serial ATA Hard Disks in RAID 0 Array

  • Western Digital WD400 40GB 7,200RPM EIDE Hard Disk

  • Sony DW-U1DA Rewritable DVD Drive

  • Sony DDU1612 16X DVD-ROM Drive

  • Sony MPF920-Z 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive

  • CoolerMaster TAC-T01 "Wave" ATX Case with Internal Lighting (Green)

  • Antec 430W Power Supply

For comparison we'll use Intel's D875PBZ reference Canterwood board and all the high end Athlon XPs we can get our hands on.

 

 

Sisoft Sandra

Let's start with the synthetic benchmarks.

 

Strangely we see the lowest score here and suspect that this benchmark suite needs updating to correctly analyze this chip.

 

Now the opposite is true and the onboard memory controller blows away all competition even besting the 800MHz FSB and dual channel of Intel's Canterwood motherboard.

 

Lowest score again but this too is due to the benchmark in need of updating.

 

Pretty much the same. We'll run these again when the next Sandra update is available.

 

 

PC Mark 2002

This is a series of tests and is more comprehensive than any of the Sandra benchmarks.

 

And in comparison to other machines:

 

The memory score is in a league of its own. Looks like AMDs decision to have the memory controller on-chip has been vindicated. The CPU score is a nice increase from the XP3200+.

 

 

3D Mark 2001

The following results were obtained with our standard graphics card (Nvidia Ti4400):

 

The P4 is finally dethroned. 

 

And for comparison:

 

Looking at the design of the chip we believed there may be significant improvements with a high-end graphics card so we threw in a 5900 Ultra and let it spin:

 

This is absolutely incredible. Let's compare:

 

There's a difference of over 3000 points compared to the Athlon XP3200+. The architecture certainly helps with CPU limitations.

 

Unreal Tournament 2003

 

Now for some real world benchmarks starting with UT2003 Flyby.

 

Although fill rate limited at higher resolutions we can see the enormous potential of AMD's new CPU.

 

The Athlon 64 FX 51 is a clear winner at all resolutions. This bodes well for performance with Doom3 and Half Life 2 (very soon now). Speaking of which, you will need a powerful graphics card for these next generation games so we ran the same test with a 5900 Ultra.

 

The CPU ceiling has been lifted far more than a few speed grades of XP would have done.

 

Being able to play at a 110fps instead on 85 may not be a big deal here but casting our eyes into the future we can see older architectures being brought to their knees by new generations of software (we wont even mention new Operating Systems).

 

Divx Encoding

Let's turn to an area where we know that fast CPUs will make a difference - Audio and Video encoding. This is becoming more and more popular and is very computationally intensive with long processing times (relatively speaking that is, this field is not for those that complain about how long their Outlook Express takes to load).

For consistency we will use Jet Li's The One as our test matter. It is not interlaced and contains a mixture of action types and is not too long. There will be three tests all using Divx 5.02. Audio will be encoded separately. I will try and keep my commentary to a minimum as all configuration information is shown in the images below.

 

Xmpeg 4.5

Firstly we will start with the industry standard Xmpeg with its settings at those recommended by the Divx community and as used by other sites such as Toms Hardware. Here are the CODEC settings:

and here are the Xmpeg settings:

and here are the results

 

A big increase over the XP3200+ in this bandwidth intensive test thanks largely to the onboard memory controller.

 

AviSynth and VirtualDub

No serious Divx encoder uses Xmpeg alone and it's just used by the media for benchmarking purposes so let's get serious. We ripped our source material to hard disk and created a DVD2AVI project file using forced film (it was 99% film). Loading this into Gordian Knot we first saved an .avs file with no changes at all (720x480) and no filters of any sort. This was loaded into VirtualDub with the following CODEC parameters :

After encoding we got these results:

 

The increase is even greater here in this field that the P4s have ruled exclusively.

 

This is all good stuff but how about a real-world test? To simulate a realistic test we added a neutral bicubic resize filter in the .avs file  and used the following CODEC parameters (including two popular Pro settings) which are designed to total 700MB (when the audio is muxed in):

Which resulted in the following.

 

We never expected to see this. It seems that for everyday Divx use the Athlon64 FX 51 is the best choice.

 

 

Audio Encoding

What about audio? We took the AC3 track from the above sample material and used HeadAC3he to convert it into Vorbis format so our final muxed file could have Ogg containment. There isn't space here to go into the advantages of Ogg Vorbis over MP3 and AVI so let's just say that Vorbis sounds about the same as MP3 for half the file size or twice as good for the same file size (that is subjective though).

These are the settings we used:

Since it is more meaningful to show throughput than time taken (which depends on the length of the source) we display the results thus:

 

Very little to separate the high-end processors - it seems anything will do for audio encoding.

 

Conclusion

We waited and waited and now it's finally here. The delay may have been costly but it still beats the cream of the current competition with ease. The 64-bit performance has been neglected despite us having a 64-bit Windows XP beta in our possession. Everything worked fine in 64-bit mode as far as XP was concerned but the availability of 64-bit drivers and lack of a stable 64-bit DirectX means that those tests will have to wait for another day.

It's a milestone in computing and a welcome one as current architectures become somewhat long in the tooth. With excellent all-round performance and making a superb games machine the Athlon64 FX 51 has no trouble winning our gold award. Users will get immediate benefits and long-term security when the eventual migration to 64-bit computing becomes a necessity.

We would like to thank AMD UK for the loan of the test equipment.

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