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Review: AMD 950MHz Thunderbird Athlon (Page 2/6)

Posted: December 4, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen


Speed: 950MHz
Fabrication Process: 0.18 micron, Aluminum or Copper Interconnects
Number of Transistors: 37 million
Processor Die Size: 117 mm2
L1 Cache Size: 128KB
L2 Cache Size: 256KB
L2 Cache Speed: 1:1 Core Speed
L2 Cache Path Width: 64bits wide
L2 Cache Organization: 16-way set Associative
Voltage: 1.7V
Supported Chipsets: AMD 750, AMD 760, VIA Apollo KT133

In regards to the fabrication process, all Socket A processors from AMD are manufactured using a 0.18 micron process. However, not all of them use the same interconnect material. Some processors have aluminum and some have copper interconnects. AMD has a fabrication facility in Dresden, Germany where the copper based processors are produced. To tell which processor contains which type of interconnects, just examine the processor core itself. Copper processors have a bluish color core and Aluminum cores are green.

L1 cache size is the largest weíve ever seen. Intelís Pentium 3 processor only has an L1 cache size of 32KB. This pales in comparison to AMDís 128KB. Also, you may want to know that the Thunderbirdís L1 and L2 caches are mutually exclusive. This means data in the L1 cache is not repeated in L2. This is not the case for the Pentium 3. Having mutually exclusive cache enables the caches to operate at peak efficiency because there isnít data redundancy.

Socket A

AMDís decision to move from Slot A to Socket A was a good decision. Firstly, socket processors are easy to manufacture and also cost less. This is because there is less material to handle. And most importantly, the cache is not on-die, which also reduces the cost of getting external cache modules from 3rd party manufacturers. Secondly, electrical traces are shortened. Traces are electrical pathways but they are embedded onto the electrical board. The shorter the traces are, the stronger the electrical signals that pass through them.

When designing a processor, itís important to take the shortest route from one component to another. How fast a processor can scale depends very much on its trace lengths.

Letís take a look at some benchmarks.

Benchmark System

AMD ďThunderbirdĒ Athlon 1000MHz (Socket A)
AMD ďThunderbirdĒ Athlon 950MHz (Socket A)

Asus A7V rev. 1.01, BIOS 1002
512MB Micron PC133 SDRAM Cas2
Elsa Gladiac Ultra with official Detonator 3 (6.35)
IBM GXP75 Ultra100 46GB HD
Windows 98 SE

SYSMark 2000

800x600 @ 32bpps
1024x768 @ 32bpps
1280x1024 @ 32bpps

Quake 3 Arena with latest Point Release (1.25y)
Demo 1 & 2: High Quality

Unreal Tournament 4.32

Letís get on to how this CPU scores.

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