65nm vs. 90nm: AMD's Athlon 64 X2 5000+

Author: William Henning
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, June 4th, 2007
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/65nm_am2_x2_5000/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

AMD quietly started shipping 65nm Athlon X2 parts some time ago; and recently they sent us a 65nm X2 5000+ to take a look at.

In the past, we reviewed the 90nm X2 5000+ ... so now that we have its 65nm counterpart in hand, we will set up the exact same system and see what differences - if any - there are in performance and overclocking elbow room between the two chips.

Now before we start, you may be wondering why AMD is doing such a "soft" launch of the new 65nm parts.

It's quite simple really.

AMD's current Athlon 64 X2 processors are simply not as fast as Intel's Core 2 Duo offerings, thus it makes little sense to trumpet the introduction of newly shrunk devices when they will not outperform the competition.

BUT.

While the AM2's may not have the highest 'bang' - they definitely do have a good 'bang for the buck', with Athlon 64 X2 3600+ processors being widely available for as little as $59 OEM / $69 boxed, the E4300 at $114 boxed is still $45 more expensive.

By switching the production of Athlon X2's to 65nm, AMD gets many more die's per 300mm wafer, thus reducing its costs; which allows them to sell processors at significantly lower prices than Intel - thus maintaining market share with a lower performance product until their new Barcelona products are ready.

Mind you, Intel is aware of this, and will soon introduce the E2100 series of Core 2 Duo's for the low end.


In order to keep the testing as fair as possible, we will use the following test platforms:

Socket AM2:

LGA 775:

ASUS' M2N32-SLI motherboard is an excellent performer, and allows us to try very high FSB speeds.

Naturally, we also used a high-end 975X-based motherboard for our LGA775 benchmarking. In this case it was the ASUS P5B-E Premium -- a favourite of ours here.

Software used during testing consisted of the following:

Please note that we are showing overclocked results in all the charts - we are not holding you in suspense until the end of the article. :-) We are also presenting you with a FULL set of overclocked benchmarks - our test sytems were all stable at the settings shown with air cooling. Please note that chart labels incorporate a lot of information about the test configuration. The first line shows the socket type and the model of the processor. Since all the processors shown are dual-core devices, we did not specify that on the charts.

The second line shows the "FSB/HT clock rate" x "CPU multiplier" followed by the effective DDR memory speed. Please note that all DDR2 tests were run at 4-4-4-12 timings unless otherwise specified.

Business Winstone

At stock speeds, the 65nm AMD Athlon X2 5000+ slightly outperforms its 90nm predecessor, and it also outperforms the Core 2 Duo E4300, E6300 and E6400!



Creative Content

For content creation, at stock speeds we again have the 65nm 5000+ outperforming the Core 2 Duo's its going up against!



It looks like for every day office use, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is an excellent choice.

Sandra

CPU

Unfortunately we switched what version of Sandra we used for benchmarking a few months ago; however the results are still quite comparable. The Core 2's beat the Athlon X2 5000+ for Sandra CPU scores.



Memory Bandwidth

At stock speeds, the AM2 X2 5000+ only beats the E4300; however the chart shows you what a difference overclocking can make to memory performance.

RightMark Read

We can see that the read performance of the X2 5000+ at stock speeds is only slighly better than the E4300, but scales nicely when overclocked.



RightMark Write

The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ easily trounces the Core 2 Duo's at stock speeds for write performance - and scales nicely when overclocked.

RightMark Latency

The on-chip memory controller means that the AMD X2 5000+ simply destroys the Core 2 Duo's when it comes to latency.



RightMark Bandwidth

At stock speeds, the 5000+ does not fare well compared to the Core 2's for bandwidth.

LAME MP3

At stock speeds, the X2 5000+ beats the E4300, however it needs to be seriously overclocked to beat the E6300 and E6400 at their stock speeds.



As we've only recently started running the multi-threaded version of LAME, we only have a couple of results for you.



TMPGEnc


The AMD X2 5000+ managed to do very well at TMPGEnc at stock speeds, beating the E4300 and the E6300!

CineBench

The AMD X2 5000+ did well at CineBench; at stock speeds it beat both the E4300 and E6300, and was only slightly bested by the E6400.



POV-Ray


There is a definite pattern emerging... again, the X2 5000+ beat both the E4300 and the E6300 at stock speeds!

Call of Duty

The X2 5000+ beat the E6300 for call of duty, however its performance was lackluster compared to the E6400.



Commanche 4


Again, the X2 5000+ beats the E4300 and E6300 at stock speeds!

Doom 3

Well, the AMD X2 5000+ at stock speeds beat the E4300 - but was otherwise trounced by the E6300 and E6400.



Halo

Surprisingly the X2 5000+ slighly beat the E6300 and also beat the E4300... and thoroughly trounced the older 90nm 5000+

Jedi Knight

In an interesting turn of events, at stock speeds the 65nm AMD X2 5000+  beat its older brother, the E4300, E6300 and E6400 for Jedi Knight!



UT2004

The X2 5000+ beat the E4300 and E6300 for Unreal Tournament 2004.

Overclocking

Overclocking the 65nm AM2 X2 5000+ was an interesting experience.

I managed to get it running with FSB speeds as high as 345MHz - but only with significantly reduced multipliers. In order to get the best possible balanced score, I spent a lot of time trying different multiplier and FSB combinations, and frankly my experiments were made needlessly frustrating by the unpredictable ways it would choose the memory speed dividers.

If only the BIOS would have let me set the memory ratios directly, I am certain I could have achieved even better scores than I did.

Regardless, 3.192GHz for a socket AM2 processor, with air cooling, is no mean feat, and is definitely a decent overclock - we've just been spoiled by the insanely great overclocking headroom available on Core 2 Duo processors, where even 1.8GHz processors can regularly hit 3.4GHz with air cooling.

How did I get to 3.192GHz?

I suspect that a lower end 65nm Athlon 64 X2 processor such as the X2 3600+ or the X2 3800+ would also overclock to almost 3.2GHz - which would be a very good "bang for the buck" indeed.

Power Consumption

One of the benefits of a geometry shrink from 90nm to 65nm is supposedly lower power consumption - but can we measure a difference?



As you can see, at the default clock speed and voltage there is no measurable difference.

When overclocked, the 90nm X2 5000+ running at 1.5V at 3.0GHz consumed 6.3% more power at 6.4% lower speed than the 3.192GHz 65nm part at 1.425V, and while that is not an earth shaking difference, it is measurable.

Conclusion

If you are building a general purpose computer for the home or office, or want a multimedia box, the 65nm AMD AM2 X2 5000+ will certainly be able to perform whatever tasks you throw at it.

It will perform better than a Core 2 E4300 based system, and will be running neck and neck with an E6300 based processor, which are priced almost exactly the same.

Examining the results of the testing, we can tell that the current perception that "you should not buy AM2, only buy Core 2 Duo's" is not based on reality - because for people who don't overclock, there is really little difference in perfomance - so for example if you see a really good deal on an AM2 system from a vendor, you should seriously consider it, as you could save significant money and still get excellent performance.

If you can get an E6400 or higher model Core 2 Duo based system for the same price, get that instead - frankly AMD needs to bring the Barcelona to market, and  have it perform better than the Core 2 Duo/Quad at similar prices for AMD to recapture the high end and enthusiast market... but remember something: Most systems sold are low to mid range systems, so if AMD captures a large percentage of the low/mid range market, it can do very well indeed!

Now if you are an enthusiast like me, and want to overclock like crazy... go with a Core 2 Duo. The Core 2's have incredible overclocking headroom - heck with extreme cooling I managed to get an E4300 all the way up to 3.6GHz - twice its rated 1.8GHz!

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