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    AMD Athlon XP 3000+ Barton Review
    By Vince Freeman :  February 10, 2003

    The Athlon XP 3000+ Barton

    The Athlon XP 3000+ Barton is a Thoroughbred core revision with one major enhancement: 512K of L2 cache. A smaller shift is the Barton's availability in 333 MHz parts only, as opposed to the 266/333 MHz split found with the Thoroughbred. In other ways, Barton shares the same characteristics as the Thoroughbred, including 128K of L1 cache, a 0.13-micron die and an organic CPU package. Due to this, the Barton represents the AMD challenge to the similarly-updated Pentium 4 Northwood core, but isn't a radical departure.

    The presence of the 512K L2 cache has translated into a larger physical core for the Barton, measuring 101 mm2 and including 54.3 million transistors, compared to the Thoroughbred's 84 mm2 and 37.6 million transistors. This makes the Barton core approximately 20% larger than the Thoroughbred, as evidenced by the following image:

    This larger core brings with it both positives and negatives. The larger dimensions naturally translates into fewer Barton cores per wafer, which could potentially drive up prices or shrink profits, depending on the long-term angle that AMD takes. On the plus side, this also means that the Athlon XP Barton processors have more potential real estate for cooling. When AMD initially released the 0.13-micron Thoroughbred, the actual core surface had shrunk along with the die, and not featuring an integrated heat-spreader, this limited surface area put a lot of strain on the cooling system and basically negated the advantages of the smaller die. The Barton corrects this somewhat, and gives heatsinks a bit more area to link.

    AMD is introducing the new Barton core in a number of versions (Athlon XP 3000+, 2800+ now, and 2500+ later in 2003), so let's take a look at the processor model numbers AMD is introducing today, along with their core speeds. This chart outlines the three new Barton models, along with the current selection of Athlon XP processors:

    Athlon XP Model Core Speed 
    Athlon XP 3000+ (Barton)2.167 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2800+ (Barton)2.083 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2800+2.25 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2700+2.167 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2600+2.083 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2600+2.13 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 2500+ (Barton)1.83 GHz (333)
    Athlon XP 2400+2.00 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 2200+1.80 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 2100+1.73 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 2000+1.67 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 1900+1.60 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 1800+1.53 GHz (266)
    Athlon XP 1700+1.47 GHz (266)

    As you can see from the chart, the Athlon XP Barton processors use a lower core speed than their Thoroughbred counterpart, moving a few steps down the line. Thus, an Athlon XP 3000+ Barton has the same core speed as an Athlon XP 2700+, and a Barton 2800+ features a core speed equivalent to an Athlon XP 2600+. Although the sequential numbering looks a bit off, AMD is counting on the 512K of L2 cache to help the lower-clocked Barton perform up to its Model Number.

    This may seem a bit confusing, but AMD is simply working on the presumption of performance level, instead of pure clock speed. This is also quite logical, given that a Pentium 4-1.8A Northwood (512K) commonly outperforms a standard Pentium 4-2.0 Willamette (256K) model. While we are going to take a hard look at the validity of these new Barton model numbers, the ability to increase L2 cache and outperform higher-clocked processors is one that has already been proven.

    A bit more troublesome are the model numbers, especially the Athlon XP 2800+. AMD has stated that the original Athlon XP 2800+ Thoroughbred was not to be a mass-market processor, but it's still a bit confusing to simply replace it with the Athlon XP 2800+ Barton without much fanfare. In some ways it would be advantageous for AMD to differentiate the two, but on the flip side, the company has always taken the stance that performance is king. After all, if the model numbers (and hence the performance) is equivalent between the two 2800+ processors, why have two different names? This works just fine in the mass market, but hardcore enthusiasts will likely be quite interested in which core their new Athlon XP 2800+ contains.


    Page 1 Introduction
  • Page 2 The Athlon XP 3000+ Barton
    Page 3 Performance and Test Systems
    Page 4 Business and Content Creation Winstone Performance
    Page 5 PCMark 2002 and MPEG4 Encoding Performance
    Page 6 3DMark 2001SE, Quake 3 & Serious Sam 2 Performance
    Page 7 Castle Wolfenstein, Comanche 4 & UT 2003 Performance
    Page 8 Benchmark Analysis, Value and Conclusion


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