First Newcastle Shows Up . . .

Over here, we have a picture of an Athlon 64 3000+.

However, it is not an Athlon 64 with 1Mb cache running at a slower speed. Rather, it is a Newcastle chip, the first we’ve ever seen.

How can you tell? It’s all in the codes.

An Athlon 64 3200+ has this identifying code:


The chip in the picture has the following code:


If you go to pages 4 and 5 of this document, AMD explains what all these codes mean.

If you look at that, you’ll see that the single number in that spot is supposed to designate the amount of level 2 cache on that CPU. A 1Mb cache chip gets a “5.”

That document doesn’t show any other codes for different caches, simply because all Opterons/FX/64 chips have had 1Mb cache. Since the only chip with a different sized cache AMD plans to release any time soon is a Newcastle, the “4” must stand for a 512K cache chip.

Eventually, AMD is supposed to release a 256K cache Hammer, but it would make no numerical sense to call that a “4” since that would leave no number inbetween the 256K and 1Mb cache version to call the 512K.

Are There Two of Them?

If you go to Pricewatch and investigate the handful of places currently selling the chip, you find some contradictions.

Monarch Computer identifies the code of the chip they are selling is ADA3000AEP5AP. They don’t show a picture, or give the “actual” speed of the chip.

Axion Technologies doesn’t identify any code or processor speed, but says it has a 1Mb cache.

Newegg describes its 3000+ as a ADA3000AEP4AP, and even provides a picture of one. However, it says the speed of the chip is 2GHz, and it has a 1Mb cache. That can’t be right, because a 2GHz Athlon 64 with 1Mb cache is a 3200+, not a 3000+.

Essential Computers describes its 3000+ as a 2GHz CPU with 512K cache.

That is almost certainly the proper description of the chip. There is a CPU-Z screenshot over at the forum which shows a 3000+ chip with a speed of 2GHz and 512K cache.

Should You Buy One?

As we said just yesterday, we don’t think this is a terribly good idea.

On the other hand, if this had been a socket 939 chip with the same characteristics and the same price, and socket 939 boards were around, we would have given the thumbs up. Not a rabid “buy or die” thumbs-up, but a definite affirmative.

Which brings us to an important point. Too many people buying Athlon 64s now could hurt us as a whole later.

If tons of people run out and buy Athlon 64s at what are still pretty high prices now, AMD may get the notion that it can charge a good deal more for socket 939 Newcastles later.

If you’re interested in performance and particularly memory-bandwidth intensive gaming, you want socket 939. You don’t want socket 754 unless you plan on replacing it within six-to-nine months; you’ll regret it later on.

As you can see from our comments above, we’re hardly looking for a $50 CPU. We think $200 is an OK price for a socket 939 Newcastle (no doubt many of you think we’re being rather generous about this, but given that we don’t have your credit card number, you have final say on that. :)).

In short, socket 939 is the beef. Socket 754 is the sizzle. If everyone runs out and pays $200+ for sizzle, it hardly encourages AMD to sell beef for the same price.


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