The benchmark analysis is really separated into two distinct areas, starting with the Sempron 2800+ and how it ranked against the Celeron 335. In terms of overall application and gaming performance scores, the Sempron 2800+ does get the nod, especially where integrated video is concerned. The nForce2 gives the Socket A Sempron processors a huge performance boost at the entry-level market, and the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 core of the i865G/GV simply can't compare.
Even when a mainstream card like the Radeon 9600 Pro is used, the Sempron 2800+ still finishes on top in the majority of real-world benchmarks. Intel still holds the advantage in overall platform performance and specifications, but at 2.8 GHz and running on a 533 MHz front-side bus, the Celeron 335 simply doesn't have the power to make use of it. But if Intel decides to offer 800 MHz Celeron versions at the entry-level, or add in Hyper-Threading, then AMD had better watch out.
AMD also has its own performance-value entrant, and the Sempron 3100+ is one very intriguing processor. The CPU benchmarking scores were certainly not that impressive, and the Sempron 3100+ had a little trouble on the video encoding side, suggesting that the cut to 256K of L2 cache had a serious effect on performance. But the Sempron 3100+ performed extremely well in all of the real-world application and game tests, which means that the processor, its integrated DDR400 memory controller, and the Socket 754 platform base all need to be taken into consideration when evaluating performance levels.
Value is the main selling point of the AMD Sempron line, but this seems to be a factor of the exact model you're looking for. The Sempron 2800+ is priced at $109 in 1K units, which doesn't make a lot of sense when the Athlon XP 2800+ is selling for $90 street. As we move down the line to the Sempron 2600+ ($85), 2500+ ($74), 2400+ ($61), 2300+ ($45), and 2200+ ($39) models, the pricing starts making a bit more sense, but it will still be tough competing against the existing Athlon XP for a Socket A entry-level position. The Celeron 335 ($130), 330 ($100) and 325 ($95) are much bigger targets, and AMD already has the value edge here.
The Sempron 3100+ has a much easier road ahead, as up until now, there has not been a true entry-level option for Socket 754. The Athlon 64 2800+ was the closest we could get and even this processor is over the $150 mark retail, and as you move up the line, prices rise quickly to the $300 Athlon 64 3400+. The Sempron 3100+ will sell for $126 in 1K units, and we expect street prices to be very attractive. It also gives new life to Socket 754, and allows entry-level access to this powerful system platform. This processor could more accurately be called the Celeron-killer, and AMD has a real opportunity here.
We also need to keep in mind that AMD processors have the incredible ability to be found at street prices below that of their 1KU price. This is a common business practice where AMD is concerned, so we will have to wait and see how the actual release prices stack up. Using current pricing, we could be looking at a Sempron 2800+ at under $80 and a sub-$100 Sempron 3100+. Only time will tell, but for now we have to use the 1KU price list from AMD for our comparison.
* Please note that these prices were taken at the time of review and are not meant to reflect long-term trends.
The AMD Sempron is a tough release to categorize. The Sempron 2800+ does make a compelling case against the Celeron 335, and the ability to use the nForce2 and its GeForce4 MX integrated graphics makes it an entry-level dream. The only issue is the continued presence of the Athlon XP, and it's tough to recommend the Sempron 2800+ over an Athlon XP 2800+. The Sempron 3100+ is a much more compelling release, and the introduction of an entry-level Socket 754 processor is very good news. Not only can the Sempron 3100+ provide excellent performance today using a high-end, feature-rich platform base, but the upgrade possibilities are much greater than with Socket A.