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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary

AMD launches a budget Athlon 64 3000+
December 18, 2003 by Keith Benicek, Editor

Without much of any fanfare, AMD released a new family member to the Athlon 64 family, this one a budget priced Athlon 64 3000+ which runs at a measured 2.0 GHz. Oddly, this is the same operating speed as the previously released Athlon 64 3200+, but the new one only has 512KB L2 cache rather than a full 1MB L2.

AMD is pricing the Athlon 64 3000+ at $218 in quantities of 1,000, while the Athlon 64 3200+ sells for $418. AMD internally refers to the new chip as the "A-Rod," a reference to baseball player Alex Rodriguez. AMD’s Athlon 64 feature an integrated memory controller or HyperTransport, two features of the Athlon 64 family that boost performance by 10 percent to 15 percent, according to the AMD engineering spokesmen.

An analyst talking head at Insight has claimed that AMD has “disabled half of the cache”, when in fact our sources say that the 3000+ is actually the 3200+ that fail in production to delivery a fully operating 1MB cache. Conseqently, AMD can still sell then, but only as 512MB models. No other flaws are exhibited in these cache rejected Athlon 64’s.

This brings up questions about production problems at AMD’s fab plants if so many are failing that they are able to structure another product line out of the rejected 3200+ processors.

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We expect that system builders will still be paying pretty close to the Althlon 64 3200+ because of the demand levels currently be experienced. AMD also sells an Athlon XP 3000+. While it shares the same performance rating number as the new Athlon 64 3000+, there are substantial differences.

Delayed for almost two years, the Athlon 64 has managed to gain a following in the market, mostly by gamer and hobbyist system builders. Bargain basement computer maker eMachines came out with a PC that uses the 3200+ Athlon 64 earlier this month.

All this places AMD and Intel in a locked horn battle for your dollars once again. As a counter to the Athlon 64, Intel has come out with an Extreme Edition of the Pentium 4 and also has plans, according to our sources, to introduce a 3.4GHz or faster version of the Pentium 4, code-named Prescott, in February.

Over on the Apple tree, IBM remains strangely silent about the previous pronouncements of faster than 2.0GHz PowerPC 970’s (Apple G5) by year-end or first quarter 2004. It may be that IBM can’t deliver to Apple on the “inferred” 2.2 or 2.6GHz once mentioned. So the speed gap once again widens between Mac and PC.



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