AMD Athlon 64: the benchmarks

AMD Athlon 64: the benchmarks

Summary: AMD’s Athlon 64 launch marks the dawn of the 64-bit desktop PC era. We evaluate the efficiency of the new CPU using over 100 benchmark tests.

TOPICS: Hardware, Reviews

With its 64-bit processor, AMD is right where it wants to be -- at the cutting edge of technological development. The Athlon 64 FX-51 may not always outperform Intel’s new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, which Intel distributed to some journalists specifically for comparisons such as this. However, AMD’s new desktop processors offer something that Intel does not: 64 bits. Don’t expect miracles from this technology: 64-bit may be double 32-bit, but programs do not necessarily run twice as fast. The advantage of 64-bit technology is the size of the addressable memory. Whereas 32-bit processors cannot use any more than 4GB of memory effectively, the 64-bit AMD processors can handle up to 1 terabyte, providing a high degree of future-proofing. But who needs more than 4GB in a desktop PC? (A question frequently asked by Intel). Even now the operating system is held back by 32-bit technology. With Windows, the directly usable memory is currently limited to 2GB per process. By cheating (Boot.ini-Switch /3GB), this can be extended to 3GB, but that’s as far as you can go. The average memory complement of today’s new PCs is about 512MB, with many observers expecting this to double for 2004. So Intel will not be offering a 64-bit processor for desktop PCs, as PR representatives at the recent IDF stressed: we’re in a period of transition; wait for the Prescott CPU; who needs 64-bit? Even so, at some point, the standard memory complement will exceed 4GB. And when it does, users will recall that it was AMD, rather than Intel, that set the pace. After all, the various extensions to Intel’s 32-bit processor architecture were little used at first, but are now widely adopted -- MMX, SSE and SSE2 are examples.

Topics: Hardware, Reviews

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It would have been nice to see some sort of comparison against the Apple G5. Increasingly the best software is open source and it doesn't matter what OS you use. Is there an open source benchmark you could add to your suite?
  • Come on industry - AMD has a serious product that could benefit us all! Don't forget, these bench marks are predominantly 32bit tests! Imagine an FX-51 with 2Mb on die L3 Cache (like P4EE).... running software optimized for 64-bit..... Wow!
  • This is all fine for the graphics and gaming industries, but what about some serious number crunching benchmarks. What's the integer and FP performance like?

    Hopefully it's going to be something like the performance of the old Athlon, which in our production environment a 1.4GHz Athlon beat a 2.0GHz P4!
  • WOW! You seem all hyped up for no reason. ZDNet gets their benchmarks from a faulty source. Plus they only used 4 processors: the benchmarks I saw used 6. I'm not saying AMD sucks because I hate Pentium, but the new Pentiums kind of own the AMD's without having 64 lines.
  • These are 32 bit bench marks. Why don't you get a copy of 64 bit Linux and run some 32 bit Pentium Extreme V 64 bit Athlon benchmarks to give a real idea of the performance difference.
  • AMD once again proves that GHz is not everything.

    Even test running on the 32bit simulation layer of this 64bit 2.2Ghz CPU outperforms the faster by 1 BILLION Cycles per second Intel XEON processor.

    Amazing.... That is why I always choose AMD.
  • I purchased an Athlon 64 and Asus k8v motherboard. Together they are amazing. I also upgraded to S-ATA and that allowed the system to fully benefit with speed. Overall I think that the Hammer core Athlon 64 is an amazing step forward in processing power.
  • I've always been an 'Intel person'... but for the first time, I am looking at AMD 64 FX processor as a real option for my next performance PC upgrade.

    I say Intel should leave the buying decisions to consumers and not presume to know what consumers want. 64bit or not, whether it makes logical sense or not, AMD 64 is leading edge power and I want one!!
  • I have always hated intel, this is not due to the processor itself, it is due to the horrible logic behind intel processors. Intel, thinking they would have the advantage by quoting their clock speeds extremely high, has just had their head handed to them with the new 64 bit athlon fx processor. Rather than concentrating on clock speed, athlon has paid attention to what was more important, pipelines. While only clocked at 2GHz for the 64 bit 3200+, it managed to blow intels new extreme 3.2 GHz processor away in the benchmarks for 90 percent of the overall tests (for confirmation, see and view the articles on the athlon 64). This is the final showing of just how innovative AMD as a company, I have to give them a big pat on the back, and save one of those processors for me. By the way, some of you are going to make mention that the athlon is running faster because of its 64 bit technology, remember this, all benchmarks and software (O/S) at current run at 32 bit. The true value of 64 bit will not be shown until we get a 64 bit Operating System (eh hem microsoft...)
  • More than any other application - its High Performance Scientific Computing that needs the extra juice that new processors offer. Obviously it would be great for me if I can finish the jobs that take 2 day in 4 hours.

    Although traditionally populated by specialist hardware vendors like Cray, NEC etc with special (i.e. not for Desktop market) processors, today this space is dominated more and more by PC clusters using AMD and Intel processors. The same processors you and I use on their desktops. I would be very inbterested to see benchmarks on how the 64 bit platform will perform agansts the 32 bit one in terms of price & performance when running a GNU/Linux OS and running intensive calcs.
  • Wow! Just purchased AMD's Athlon 64 3200+
    I've never seen anything as fast as this! Amazing! Cant wait for the 64bit stuff to come out! Those cheek 64FX owners must have the fastest personal computers in the world!

    Thanks AMD! its wicked!
  • Oh well, did this come as a bit of a surprise to me? No way! I always knew that AMD processors were superior to Intel ones - be it the number of instruction pipelines used, graphics capabilities or whatever. I've been keeping in touch with the development of the Athlon 64 for quite some time now and its pretty safe to say that AMD has come out tops again!

    I just bought an Aspire 1356LMi laptop with Athlon 2800+ XP-M, so going for the Athlon 64 is not possible for me, but I'm eyeing that one for my brother who works with 3D character animation and stuff and is always complaining that today's laptops are not suited for that kind of intensive work.

    I'd love to see him get amazed by the performance of this one!

    But one thing though, which in spite of being a big fan of AMD none can overlook - that is the heat generated by Athlon processors. I'm very happy with the performance of the 2800+ XP-M with PowerNow! features, but for my desktop running Athlon 2400+ XP, well, at times it seems that you can make poached eggs on the top of the cabinet! ;-)

    How will Athlon 64 Mobile cope with this issue of intense heat generation? Obviously it'll have PowerNow!, but will it be enough for a laptop that's turned on for days at a stretch rendering *huge* 3D graphics file?
  • Ibought an Athlon 64 in the LIDL store on Thursday.
    The person from Glasgow needn`t have any worries about it heating up, my processor is as cool as when I started 5 hours ago.
    The Athlon is certainly faster that any other PC I have ever used, I can recomenned it.
  • i read somewhere that the athlon 64 when not in use slowes it self down to save on power and heat i forget where i saw that and is it true
  • the amd athlon 64 is designed for 64 bit usage not 32 bit and yet it outperforms intels 32 bit line processors in a 32 bit operating system so dont start telling me that zdnet benchmarks are bullshit and that intel processors without a 64 bit mark can outperform the athlon 64 line ULTIMA.
    Its more like the intel 32 bit processor should be able to outperform the amd 64 bit processor in a 32 bit environment but it doesnt cause intel sucks and amd owns.
  • Athlon 64's are superior to Intel's in just about every way
    did you know that the Pentium 4's are not capable of processing all 32-bit instructions?
    well AMD's can, even the Sempron
    on top of being able to process all 32-bit instructions, the Athlon 64's can also process 64-bit instructions
    the Athlon 64's are also cheaper than Pentium 4's: the 3200+ in socket 939 is $299 (aus) while the 3.2GHZ P4 is either $355 (socket 775) or $380 (socket 478)
    the Athlon 64's have a higher FSB, they skip the northbridge when transferring data to and from RAM, and this is the only part which frequency is better being higher; the core frequency is lower yet they still perform better, even when not in 64-bit
    although when they do reach 64-bit, their performance should theoretically double