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AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Written By:
Date Posted: January 24, 2001

Hot off the success of the Athlon Thunderbirds, Advanced Micro Devices began to feel the heat from chief competitor Intel. Although in the Thunderbird was able to keep up, if not surpass the performance of higher clocked Pentium 4s, it was only a matter of time before clock speed would make a difference. Compounded with the fact that As Thunderbirds got faster, be it by design, or by overclocking, they got hotter. As many should know, heat becomes a factor as the clock speeds increase, which ultimately caps a processor from reaching any higher.

Truth is, it wasn't just the heat, but the fabrication process needed an overhaul, and the architecture of the Athlon wasn't suited to reach such high clock cycles. The main difference between the two rivals, was AMD's Thunderbirds employ shorter pipelines, whereas Intel Pentium 4s used longer ones. I'm not going to get into specifics, since it's been drummed to death all over, but Pentium 4 CPUs can scale to higher frequencies then Thunderbirds.

Of course, knowlegable computer users understand that clock speed is not always indicative of performance. Unfortunently, the majority of shoppers don't know this. For one thing, Intel does have a lot of brand recognition, and it's likely Joe ComputerUser has heard of Intel, and not AMD. Secondly, and this is an opinion alert (!), AMD tends to sell their CPUs much cheaper than Intel does, thus giving it the appearance of a 2nd class processor. if Joe walks into a shop, and sees an Athlon 1.4GHz system for 600$, and an Intel 1.4GHz system for 800$, chances are, he'll "think" something must be wrong with the 600$ system, since they're both 1.4GHz. Finally, it's the clock speed issue. In most benchmarks, the Thunderbird 1.4GHz can more or less keep pace with the 1.7GHz P4. Sometimes AMD wins, other times Intel wins. Joe, on the otherhand, doesn't really care about benchmarks, and sees one is 1.4GHz, and the other is 1.7GHz, therefore the P4 is 300MHz faster.

AMD needed to find a solution(s) to the clock speed race. They needed to also do something to inform and educate the computer public that it isn't always clock speed that matters. The result? AMD introduced the Palomino, aka Athlon 4/MP/XP. The Athlon 4 is the mobile version, the MP is the workstation version, and the XP is the desktop version. Today, we're going to take a look at the Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz).


Manufactured: Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 0.18 micron copper process technology
Cache Size: L1 - 128KB
L2 - 256KB
Voltage: 1.75v
Die Size: 128mm2
Number of Transistors: 37.5 million
Infrastructure: Socket A

QuantiSpeed" Architecture for enhanced performance

Nine-issue superpipelined, superscalar x86 processor microarchitecture designed for high performance
Multiple parallel x86 instruction decoders
Three out-of-order, superscalar, fully pipelined floating point execution units, which execute x87 (floating point), MMX" and 3DNow!" instructions
Three out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined integer units
Three out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined address calculation units
72-entry instruction control unit
Advanced hardware data prefetch
Exclusive and speculative Translation Look-aside Buffers
Advanced dynamic branch prediction

3DNow!" Professional technology for leading-edge 3D operation

21 original 3DNow!" instructionsthe first technology enabling superscalar SIMD
19 additional instructions to enable improved integer math calculations for speech or video encoding and improved data movement for Internet plug-ins and other streaming applications
5 DSP instructions to improve soft modem, soft ADSL, Dolby Digital surround sound, and MP3 applications
52 SSE instructions with SIMD integer and floating point additions offer excellent compatibility with Intels SSE technology
Compatible with Windows® XP, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows NT® 4.x operating systems

266MHz AMD Athlon" XP processor system bus

Source synchronous clocking (clock forwarding) technology
Support for 8-bit ECC for data bus integrity
Peak data rate of 2.1GB/s
Multiprocessing support
Support for 24 outstanding transactions per processor

The AMD Athlon" XP processor with performance-enhancing cache memory features 64K instruction and 64K data cache for a total of 128K L1 cache. 256K of integrated, on-chip L2 cache for a total of 384K full-speed, on-chip cache.

Socket A infrastructure designs are based on high-performance platforms and are supported by a full line of optimized infrastructure solutions (chipsets, motherboards, BIOS).

Available in Pin Grid Array (PGA) for mounting in a socketed infrastructure
Electrical interface compatible with 266MHz AMD Athlon XP system buses, based on Alpha EV6" bus protocol

*whew*, now that the manufacturer specifications are out of the way, let's take a closer look at the key features...



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