Through the pursuit of ever-higher CPU performance, new features, and dual core designs, it can be easy to lose touch with the overall processor market. In real world terms, far more buyers go the Celeron or Sempron route than buy into an ultra high-end Pentium 4 EE or Athlon 64 FX. This makes a new value processor release quite important to a great many people, especially when it not only brings higher performance, but a new feature set as well. The new Sempron 3400+ accomplishes just that, and upgrades overall Sempron performance levels, while adding important new features and support for 64-bit software.
It seems that lately, AMD has introduced a new high-end Athlon 64, 64 FX or 64 X2 processor on a weekly basis, but the Sempron release schedule is a bit more sedate. The 1.8 GHz Sempron 3100+ introduced us to the Socket 754 value line, but it was a long break until the Sempron 3300+ emerged with a 2.0 GHz clock speed and a reduced 128K L2 cache. It also brought with it a revamped 90nm Palermo core, a variant of the Athlon 64 Venice core, which added in SSE3 support and an enhanced memory controller. These improvements mimicked the Athlon 64 Venice upgrades, and include improved memory mapping and loading, and the ability to use different size DIMMs on the same memory channel.
The release of the Sempron 3400+ brings us back to basics, and instead of the 128K L2 cache of the Sempron 3300+, the new model goes back to a full 256K. The L1 cache remains consistent through the line, and all 754-pin Sempron processors include a full 128K of L1 cache. The Sempron 3400+ is certainly not a huge upgrade either, as it also features the same 2.0 GHz clock speed as the Sempron 3300+, with the doubled cache being the only real performance difference between the two models.
The standard physical specifications have not changed with the Sempron 3400+, and we're still looking at a Socket 754 processor with a 1600 MHz system bus. The memory controller is a 64-bit integrated, single-channel design that supports up to 400 MHz DDR speeds. The core speed of the Sempron 3400+ has not changed, and the 62W maximum thermal power remains consistent with previous Sempron models. Since the new Palermo core has been out in the market for some time, motherboard compatibility should be high, and we tested the Sempron 3400+ on three K8T800 motherboards and all three identified the new processor correctly.
The Sempron 3400+ also includes AMD64 support, and this feature has moved down the Socket 754 line from the Sempron 3300+ to the Sempron 2600+. Both 64-bit and 32-bit Sempron models will be on the market simultaneously, with the OPN number being the only way to differentiate the OEM models. Sempron processors with the last two digits "BO" or "BX" means you have found a 754-pin, 90nm, 64-bit enabled processor, while the retail packages are labeled with 64-bit decals and will be much easier to find.