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Hardware Guides

Athlon XP Overclocking Guide - Page 6

By Ryan "Speedy" Wissman April 15, 2002

Athlon XP Multiplier Unlocking

Unlocking the multiplier is unquestionably the best and safest method of overclocking the Athlon XP. Just like in remedial math class, the CPU multiplier and FSB are the factors used to generate the CPU clock speed. For example, our Athlon XP 1500+ runs at a 10X multiplier, which when multiplied against the 133 MHz FSB, gives us the 1.33 GHz (10x133) core speed.

The key to multiplier unlocking is to override the number that is hard-coded onto the CPU. With an unlocked processor, the motherboard looks to the BIOS for its multiplier number, which naturally allows the user manual control over this key factor. We are assuming that your motherboard supports this feature, so please check your motherboard manual for details before going through the process of unlocking your processor. In some cases it may be present in an on-board jumper, while in others you'll find it within the System BIOS.

The original Athlon T-Bird series was notorious for being a processor that was easily unlocked. A very simple "pencil trick" was all that was needed to fully unlock the multiplier. This pencil trick got its name because all you needed to do the job was a sharp lead HB pencil and a steady hand. By using the pencil to connect the set of four L1 bridges on the Athlon PCB, the chip was miraculously unlocked, and due to nature of pencil lead, you could easily erase any mistake and start over.

With the introduction of the Athlon XP processor (though not with the Duron or Athlon MP) there was a drastic change made to the L1 bridges. While not Mission Impossible by any stretch, AMD still made the job of unlocking their new processor a whole lot harder. The L1 bridges are still present and placed in relatively the same position, but AMD went Jedi on us and laser cut deep ravines between each L1 bridge. This open space between the L1 bridges makes the old-style pencil trick impossible, and with some cases, AMD has also changed their L1 bridges to hamper the use of overclocking "bridge tape". But no system is perfect, and unlocking the Athlon XP processor just requires a little more time and effort than was previously needed.

Unlocking the Athlon XP processor has now become a two step process. For any connection to be made between the L1 bridges, the gaps must be filled with some sort of nonconductive material. Usually this gap filler will not harden, so you still can't go ahead and just connect the dots with your trusty pencil. Instead you will need to use some type of conductive grease or even a defogger kit conductive pen. You will need to spread the grease with a very steady hand because if you make a mistake and cross-connect different L1 bridges, then the process will not work and you will need to remove the grease and start over.


Page 1 Athlon XP Overclocking Guide
Page 2 An Athlon XP Primer
Page 3 Two Methods of Athlon XP Overclocking
Page 4 AGP/PCI Speeds and CPU Core Voltage
Page 5 Diagnostic Programs and Overclocking Results
  • Page 6 Athlon XP Multiplier Unlocking
    Page 7 CPU Unlocking, Step-by-Step
    Page 8 Testing the CPU Unlock
    Page 9 Overclocking Results and 3DMark200 SE Performance
    Page 10 Detailed 3DMark2001 SE Scores and Final Comments

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