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Appeared on: Friday, August 12, 2005
AMD Athlon 3000+


1. Introduction

A while ago, CDRinfo had the chance to review the Intel Pentium 4 530 CPU, with a core speed of 3.00GHz. Today we will be reviewing the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ CPU with the "Venice" Core (also knows as E3 stepping) and we will put it under the microscope to see what it can actually do. On top of that, throughout this review we will be comparing the 3000+ to the Intel 530. So, as many of you may have already guessed, this is a face off.

The Venice core AMD Athlon 3000+ uses the same innovative technology as all the Athlon 64 AMD processors such as SOI (Silicon on Insulator) technology allowing faster gate switching, DSL (Dual Stress Liner) technology, an enhancement on the faster switching SS3 technology. Let us have a look at the complete features list according to AMD and move onto the review and the tests.

Enhanced Virus Protection with Windows® XP Service Pack 2
- The AMD Athlon 64 processor features Enhanced Virus Protection, when supported by the operating system, and can help protect against viruses, worms, and other malicious attacks

Cool'n'Quiet™ technology
- Reduce power consumption and system noise

64-bit ready
- AMD64 technology provides full-speed support for x86 code base for uncompromising 32bit performance, ready for 64-bit applications
- 40-bit physical addresses, 48-bit virtual addresses
- Eight new (sixteen total) 64-bit integer registers
- Eight (sixteen total) 128-bit SSE/SSE2/SSE3 registers
- Including support for 3DNow!™ Professional technology and SSE3

HyperTransport™ technology for high speed I/O communication
- One 16-bit link up to 2000MHz
- Up to 8 GB/s HyperTransport™ I/O bandwidth
- Up to 14.4 GB/s total delivered processor-to-system bandwidth

High-bandwidth, low-latency integrated DDR memory controller
- Supports PC3200, PC2700, PC2100 or PC1600 DDR SDRAM
- Unbuffered DIMMs
- 72-bit DDR SDRAM memory (64-bit interface + 8-bit ECC)
- Up to 6.4 GB/s memory bandwidth
- ECC protection enables increased system reliability

A shot of what the CPU looks like, paste free. Notice the letters BP under the Athlon logo, which are the Venice core credentials.

Processor Features & Definitions

Architecture

Basic design of a microprocessor. May include process technology and/or other architectural enhancements.

Cache
(MB/KB)

A temporary storage area for frequently accessed or recently accessed data. Having certain data stored in a cache speeds up the operation of the computer. Cache size is measured in megabytes (MB) or kilobytes (KB).

Clock Speed
(GHz/MHz)

Speed of the processor's internal clock, which dictates how fast the processor can process data. Clock speed is usually measured in GHz (gigahertz, or billions of pulses per second).

Front Side Bus
(GHz/MHz)

The connecting path between the processor and other key components such as the memory controller hub. FSB speed is measured in GHz or MHz.

The Athlon 64 Venice 3000+ specifications...

Here is a table with all the Venice core CPUs and their main specs/differences.

Processor AMD Athlon 64 Venice Core
Model 3800+ 3500+ 3200+ 3000+
Rev E3
Clock Frequency 2400Mhz 2200Mhz 2000Mhz 1800Mhz
System Bus 2000
Voltage Variable
Max Temp 65C
Thermal Power 89W 67W
L1 Cache 128KB
L2 Cache 521KB
CMOS Technology 90nm SOI
Package Profile Socket 939

Below you can see the core (the die as it is called) of the Venice 3000+ :

The CPU socket is the usual 939...

A diagram of the processor architecture for the Athlon 64 CPU.

The retail box contains the CPU and stock box cooler fansink, a typical full aluminium heatsink and 9 blade fan, which came with a pre-applied thin layer of thermal grease.


2. Test System - Configuration

Here's a rundown of both testbeds, used to test the AMD Athlon 3000+ and the comparison CPU, the Intel 530 processor:

The famous Abit A8N Fatal1ty motherboard...

 

System Specifications
CPU AMD Athlon 64 3000+ "Venice" Intel Pentium 4 530
Cooler Stock
Case Antec
Motherboard Abit A8N Fatal1ty Asus P5AD2E-Deluxe
Power supply CoolerMaster 450W
Memory 2X512MB Corsair DDR400 XMS 2X512MB OCZ DDR2 PC5300 (dual channel)
VGA Asus N6800GT PCIe
Hard Disk Drive WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
OS Windows XP Pro SP2
Drivers 7.1.8.4
DirectX v9.0c

 

Benchmarks & Applications used

- - Sisoft Sandra 2005

- - Prime95

- - PcMark04

- - PcMark05

- - 3DMark01

- - 3DMark03

- - 3DMark05

- - PassMark Performance Test V5.0

- - Half Life 2 - VST

- - FlaskMPEG

- - DVD Shrink

- - dBPower

- - WinRAR

- - CPU-Z


3. SiSoft Sandra 2005

SiSoftware Sandra is a 32 and 64-bit Windows system analyser that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It also provides information about the CPU chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, ODBC Connections, USB2, Firewire, etc.

 

The CPU Arithmetic benchmark tests how your CPU stacks up against other typical combinations:

Multi-Processor (SMP) support for up to 32/64 CPUs & SMT.
- Test takes about 20/30 seconds on P6-class PCs.
- Test is repeated 3 to 5 times to get a realistic result.
- Results outside the confidence limits (5%) are discarded.
- Command Line Switch: CPUAABench
- Requirements: None
- OS (Win32) Support: Windows 2000, XP, 2003
- OS (Win32 CE) Support: PocketPC 2000/2002/2003, SmartPhone 2002, 2003
- OS (Win64) Support: Windows XP/2003

Sandra's CPU arithmetic benchmark suite uses 2 famous benchmarks (Dhrystone and Whetstone) for stress testing the processor. Also, it includes a new version of the Whetstone test that makes use of a processor's SSE2 instructions to show the performance boost an application might gain should it be optimized for SSE2. Unfortunately, this does not always represent true real-life performance, but is useful for comparing the speed of various CPUs.

As can be clearly seen in the above graph, the Intel CPU performed better in all three tests. Notice that the Athlon performs best in the Dhrystone benchmark as do all AMD processors.

The CPU Multi-Media benchmark tests how your CPU stacks up against other typical combinations:

- Multi-Processor (SMP) support for up to 32/64 CPUs & SMT.
- Test takes about 20 seconds on P6-class PCs.
- Test is repeated 3 to 5 times to get a realistic result.
- Results outside the confidence limits (5%) are discarded.
- Command Line Switch: CPUMMBench
- Requirements: MMX (Enhanced), 3DNow! (Enhanced) or SSE(2/3) recommended
- OS (Win32) Support: Windows 2000, XP, 2003
- OS (Win64) Support: Windows XP/2003

The test has two parts:

Integer test - using integer data:
- MP SSE3 is used for better performance if supported.
- MP SSE2 is used for better performance if supported.
- MP SSE (Streaming SIMD) is used for better performance if supported.
- MP Enhanced MMX is used for better performance if supported.
- MP MMX is used for better performance if supported.
- MP ALU is used otherwise.

Floating-point test - using floating point data:

- MP SSE3 is used for better performance if supported.
- MP SSE2 is used for better performance if supported.
- MP SSE (Streaming SIMD) is used for better performance if supported.
- MP 3DNow! Enhanced is used for better performance if supported.
- MP 3DNow! is used for better performance if supported.
- MP FPU is used is used otherwise.

This test involves the generation of Mandelbrot Set fractals that are used to realistically describe and generate natural objects such as mountains or clouds. By using various multi-media extensions (MMX), 3DNow! and SSE(2/3) better performance is achieved.

Once more, the Intel CPU managed to outperform its AMD rival.


4. PCMark Tests

PCMark04 & PCMark05: an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark04 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark04 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

PCMark04 includes 4 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark. In our case we selected only the CPU test suite.

Great performance with the Intel CPU, outscoring the AMD CPU by 1500 or so marks...

More analytically the tests:

  AMD 64 3000+ Intel P4 530
File Compression (MB/sec) 2,6
4,1
File Encryption (MB/sec) 28,0
54,6
File Decompression (MB/sec) 22,8
36,5
Image Processing (MPixels/sec) 11,0
14,7
Grammar Check (KB/sec) 5,3
4,4
File Decryption (MB/sec) 55,9
83,4
Audio Conversion (KB/sec) 2385,5
2357,7
WMV Video Compression (FPS) 42,6
52,1
DivX Video Compression (FPS) 56,7
69,9

Grammar Check and Audio conversion were the only tasks in the test suite where the AMD CPU managed to perform better than the Intel.

Same performance with the PCMark 04 Benchmark. The Intel CPU is first once more.

  AMD 64 3000+ Intel P4 530
File Compression 6,91 7,85
File Decompression 107,94 120,19
File Encryption 34,19 68,9
File Decryption 31,08 66,35
Image Decompression 20,69 24,31
Audio Compression 2040,57 1975,89

5. 3DMark Tests

3DMark2001 SE is a diagnostics tool for measuring the 3D game performance of PCs. It is entertaining and easy to use, which makes it "must have" software for all home PC users interested in 3D games. Even a beginner PC user can get a game performance measurement with 3DMark2001 SE.

Although the 3DMark series is more dedicated to 3D graphics performance, it is rather interesting to see how a faster CPU helps the VGA card achieve higher FPS.

No doubt about the 3DMark01 score. The settings were the defaults.

 

3DMark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. For testing the performance of each card we use the 4 game benchmark 3DMark offers. The first is a DirectX 7 game, the second and the third use DirectX 8 and the last one stresses graphics in DirectX 9. A very strong point of 3DMark is that its VGA card measuring does not require a lot of CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference of a VGA card's rendering performance.

Better performance with the AMD Venice CPU...

 

3DMark05 is concentrated on measuring the performance of the DirectX 9 generation of 3D hardware using the technology of next generation games. Earlier 3DMark versions have usually been launched with the introduction of a new Microsoft DirectX version and with the introduction of a new hardware generation. This has somewhat limited how much 3DMark has utilized the new hardware features. At the time of this writing, DirectX 9 was introduced soon two years ago, and there is now DX9 generation hardware available all the way from the very high end to value and mobile parts. 3DMark05 can thereby utilize the features of DirectX 9 to a 100%. In fact, DirectX 9 hardware is required for every game test of 3DMark05, resulting in the ultimate tool for DirectX 9 hardware performance comparison.

 

AMD won this comparison test, although without any significant difference. One can say that both CPUs are evenly matched.


6. Performance Test v5.0

CPU Benchmarks

The suite from the PassMark Performance Test contains multi-process CPU tests such as:

- Integer (32-bit addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
- Floating Point (32-bit addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
- WIN32: MMX (matrix multiplication) or WIN64: 64bit Integer Matrix Multiplication
- WIN32: SSE (128-bit SSE operations such as addition, subtraction and multiplication) or WIN64: 64bit Floating Point Matrix operations
- WIN32: 3Dnow! (3D transformation of an array of 32-bit vertices) or WIN64: 64bit Floating Point Matrix operations
- Compression
- Encryption
- Image Rotation (Rotate image co-ordinates in memory)
- Random String Sorting

Integers are whole numbers such as 23, 459532, -26. Floating point numbers contain a fractional part, e.g. 1.003, 98394.2. These two types of numbers are treated quite differently inside a computer, which is why PerformanceTest differentiates between the two.

For each of the integer tests, a large array of random 32 bit integers is processed using the particular mathematical operations listed below. For the floating point tests, single precision floating point numbers (32 bit) are used.

The "PassMark rating" is a weighted average of all the other test results and gives a single overall indication of the computer's performance. The bigger the number, the faster the computer. The "PassMark rating" can only be calculated if the results from all other tests are available. The value is calculated as follows.

Test Suite Weighting
Disk 20%
CD / DVD 9%
Memory 18%
3D Graphics 12%
2D Graphics 14%
CPU 27%
Total 100%

In our case however, we only ran the suite for the CPU.

First we chose "All" the tests for the CPU, as described above. The following are the results of those tests.

  3000+ 530

As it was expected, the 530 was much faster than the 3000+.

Multitasking Benchmarks

The Advanced Multi Process Test from the PassMark benchmark is designed to run a series of standard benchmark tests in parallel to examine the performance under these conditions. Multiple processor machines should excel under this kind of environment, as the load is split between the various CPUs.

The tests include a number of the standard PassMark benchmarks along with some popular benchmarking algorithms and tests which emulate some day-to-day operations your CPU may be required to carry out which are particularly processor intensive.

No graphics presentation here, only a simple html table.. enjoy.

Test Name AMD 3000+ Intel 530 Primes found
Prime Number Search 35390 45322 Primes Found
Sorting Random Strings 84350 98977 Thousand strings sorted per second
Compression 144 212 KBytes per second
Encryption 673.04 1131.97 KBytes per second
Rotation 9.27 17.58 Rotation per second
MMX Addition 47.11 62.82 Million Ops/Sec
MMX Multiplication 47.31 61.83 Million Ops/Sec
Integer addition 32.64 56.74 Million Ops/Sec
Whetstone 150.71 178.27 Million Ops/Sec
Dhrystone 178.25 207.99 Million Ops/Sec
Memory Read 106.87 223.32 MB/sec
Memory Write 106.30 223.50 MB/sec
Disk Access 0.06 0.15 MB/sec

Take a look at the test explanations below to see what each of the tests does in order to determine who had the best performance. The Intel CPU is slightly superior.

The Tests
- Prime Number Search:
This test uses a simple brute force prime number finding algorithm. It begins at 3 and checks every integer to see if it is a member of the set of primes. (A prime number is one which is divisible only by 1 and itself). The test reports the amount of primes found and the largest prime. Note that for longer test periods, the rate of Primes Per Second found will drop as the distance between primes gets larger.

- Sorting Random Strings:
The test uses qsort to continually sort 1000 strings of 256 characters. Once the test duration expires, the test reports the speed of the sorting in thousands of strings per second.

- Compression:
The Compression test uses an Adaptive encoding algorithm based on source code from Ian H. Witten, Radford M. Neal, and John G. Cleary in an article called “Arithmetic Coding for Data Compression”. The system uses a model which maintains the probability of each symbol being the next encoded. It reports a compression rate of 363% for English text, which is slightly better than the Huffman method. This test reports its results in KBytes/Sec compressed.

- Encryption:
The encryption test uses the Blowfish enciphering algorithm. It is based on the C implementation by Paul Kocher. Data is enciphered using a 16byte key in blocks of 4 KB. The test reports in KBytes/Sec.

- Rotation:
The rotation algorithm is a PassMark developed algorithm using standard rotation mathematics. The test uses a 400 x 400 pseudo image with one byte of data per pixel. The image is rotated degree by degree, with each degree counting as one rotation. The test reports in rotations per second.

- MMX Addition:
- MMX Multiplication:

These are the standard PassMark benchmarks. See MMX Tests for for more information. These tests are only included with the version of PT that is for the 32-bit version of Windows.

- Maths Integer addition:
This is a standard PassMark benchmark. See Maths Tests for more information.

- Whetstone:
The Whetstone benchmark is one commonly used to test floating point arithmetic. The algorithm is based on the original C source code written by Rich Painter. The benchmark is designed to test the speed of commonly used floating point CPU instructions. The test reports in MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second.)

- Dhrystone:
The Dhrystone benchmark is one commonly used to test a machines integer arithmetic. The algorithm is based on the C source code for Dhrystone version 2 by Reinhold P. Weicker. The test reports in MIPS.

- Memory Read:
- Memory Write:

These are the standard PassMark benchmarks. See Memory Tests for more information.

- Disk Access:
This test uses the same test engine as the PassMark Advanced Disk Test. The test uses a file size of the current available RAM, a block size of 4K, the Win32 uncached interface, a 50%/50% RW level, it is 100% Sequential and executed in Synchronous mode. The test reports its results in MB/Sec.


7. Prime95

Prime95 is basically a Mersenne prime number discovery program. It's a great example of Distributed Computing, but it's most loved by overclockers for its powerful system stress-testing and benchmarking abilities. It can torture-test your CPU to produce its maximum heat or spit out any errors due to excessive overclocking. Also, using the blend test, it can consume all your physical memory and run error-checking tests on your modules to ensure their quality. However, right now, we're mostly interested in it for its benchmarking capabilities.

Note here that less is better. Having said that, the Intel well and truly reigns supreme in this test as one can see from the above graph.


8. Encoding

Apart from benchmarks, we use certain utilities just to check on the performance of the CPU in everyday, routine tasks. Let us see how the CPUs performed.

dBPower Tests

In the following graph, you can see how the CPUs performed while encoding the same audio file into different formats. For this we used a whole music CD with a size of 750MB. We ripped the AudioCD using EAC and then encoded from one format to another with dBPower. The times needed for each task are given below.

In almost all cases, the Intel CPU performed better than the AMD. Sometimes, with small differences (WMA to MP3) and sometimes with a significant margin (WMA to WAV). The AMD CPU did better with MP3 to WAV and WAV to Mp3 with minimal time differences. The greatest difference was in WMA to WAV conversion where the Intel CPU is much faster.

The settings for dBPower were the same for both CPUs. Analytically:

DVD Shrink Tests

Compressing a movie from DVD9 to DVD5 is a very common task. For this reason we ripped an original movie using DVD Decrypter. Then, with DVD Shrink we compressed it in order to fit on a DVD5 disc. The size of the original movie was 6.85GB and we made it 4.463GB. Below you can see how many frames per second each CPU can process and the total time needed for the encoding.

In the Deep Analysis test, it's "the higher the better", meaning that the Intel CPU did better than the AMD in this task as it managed to analyse more fps than the AMD in the same time margin, while in the second task of the test, that of encoding, it is a case of "the lower the better" with values in seconds and once more, the Intel CPU managed to perform better than its AMD rival.

DivX Tests

Another very common task is to convert a movie into DivX format. For this we used a .vob file of size 202MB and with FlaskMPEG, converted it to .avi. The settings are given below:

The 3000+ managed to complete the encoding faster than its Intel rival. Though this may seem a small difference of a few seconds, remember that we used a 200MB video. What would it be if we have used the whole Vob file? The time differences would be significant.

WinRAR Tests

Using a folder with 101MB of various data, we checked how much time each of the CPUs needed to compress and extract it.

Compression and extraction of files seems to be a job the AMD does better... 101MB extracted in 12sec...


9. Half Life 2

Half life 2 is no doubt the most anticipated pc game of all times. Gamers having the excellence of Half Life 1 in mind, as well as the remarkable E3 demo preview, have been anxiously waiting for the much delayed release of HL2.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

 

We tested both CPUs at 640X480 where the graphics card plays the lesser role and we got the above values. The AMD processor is definitely"faster", by 20 or so frames with game applications and the 3D graphics environment.


10. Conclusion

The Intel 530 CPU managed to give better results than the AMD in most of the application tests and benchamarks throughout this review. The Intel 530 reported in general faster times than its AMD rival. The Venice core CPU managed to beat the Intel CPU in the audio conversions and WinRar's compression / decompression trials. The strong point of the AMD CPU however is in gaming and 3D graphics envioroment as we saw by its performance with all three 3DMark editions used. In a pure gaming enviroment (HalfLife2), the AMD managed to beat the Intel CPU with a difference of 20 FPS, proving once more that the AMD based processors are unbeatable in this arena of CPU usage.

It all comes down to this: for pure hardcore gaming experience, users should consider the perfect choice to be the Venice AMD Athlon 3000+. However, for everyday activities and desktop applications, in general the Intel 530 is the better choice.

In the e-market, you can find the AMD 64 3000+ at a price close to US$145 while the Intel 530 is more expensive at US$185.



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