Sempron Yet?

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Semprons that have x86-64 enabled are supposedly beginning to show up.

The key term here is beginning to show up. Keep in mind there are multiple versions of the Sempron 3300+ out there, as evidenced here.

Due to the lack of updated tech documents from AMD, we don’t know if this first set of x86-64-enabled Semprons will be somehow identifiable by their product codes.

This is a somewhat different situation than we usually face, since this change means that a significant feature that isn’t in early versions will be found in this one. If you get the “wrong” one and try to install Windows for x86-64, it won’t be a matter of working a little less well, it’s a matter of not working at all.

To protect yourself, you’d better not buy one of these things unless the place selling it explicitly says the Sempron is x86-64 enabled (and save the webpage for proof in case you end up with “the wrong one”).

Better yet, you may want to wait until a few other things happen.

E6 Replacing E3, And Why?

This x86-64 Sempron is a revision DH8-E3, as indicated in the link above.

This will be a short-lived version, because an E6 revision is due to show up shortly.

Here’s that nice little chart we showed you a few days ago.

AMD Steppings

Take a look down the Sempron column, and you’ll see an E6 revision, the DH-E6 revision. For both A64s and Semprons, it will have a stepping of 00020FF2h (for A64s and Semprons).

No, we don’t have a CPUID picture of that yet, because it hasn’t shown up yet, but when it does, the CPUID-type programs will spit out “Family, Model, Stepping” numbers of F-F-2 rather than the current F-F-0.

Another minor, more likely miniscule reason why you might want to wait is that the E6 revision may have come so soon after the E3 revision because it may have been largely a bug fix, at least Planet 3D Now suspects such.

The Big Reason

The response to socket 754 Semprons up to now (at least among enthusiasts) has been overwhelmingly underwhelming.

The reason is simple: Enthusiasts find no value in AMD’s value product. The upper-end Semprons cost almost the same as “real” Athlon 64s, so people say “Why spend $130 for this, when I can get a real Athlon 64 for $20 more?”

This wouldn’t be so bad if people then ran out and bought the “real” Athlon 64s, but that hasn’t been happening. Since the most modern A64s are only socket 939, you need a more expensive mobo, two matched sticks of RAM and most importantly, if you want an nForce4 board, a new PCI Express video card.

The more frugal are balking at that, especially when the whole picture is going to change in a year with relatively cheap dual-cores and a whole new socket and memory.

It’s not that AMD hasn’t come out with cheaper socket 754 chips, you can get one for about $80 now, but most (but not all) have just 128K cache attached, rather than the earlier cut-down 256K standard, making this a recastrated castrated chip. Preliminary indications are that while the recastration is not crippling, it does drop performance a few more percentage points.

What The World Needs Is . . .

. . . a socket 754 Sempron that:

  • costs less than $100, preferably more like $90
  • a clock speed of at least 1.8GHz (less will cramp overclocking)
  • is x86-64 enabled with the E6 revision
  • has 256K cache
  • will run on either AGP or PCI Express based mobos

    Given that the Sempron cores will be the same late models as the A64s, overclocking ought to be the same. Performance won’t be as great due to lower cache and no dual-channel memory bandwidth, but it shouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice, and if you recycle PC3200 RAM and keep your old video card, you’re looking at a decent performance boost over socket A for the cost of a CPU/mobo, maybe $200 or less.

    I’d say it’s at least 50/50 we’ll see something like this happening in the next couple months.

    Ed

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