Uncertain Leapfrogging

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Ace’s Hardware took an Athlon FX, froze it, and got 2.8GHz out of it. It then ran some benchmarks.

While you probably shouldn’t take all too seriously some of the claims as to PIV equivalence made in the article; it is pretty reasonable to say that to beat a 2.8GHz FX, a PIV will have to get seriously above 4GHz to compete.

It is also pretty reasonable to say that the frozen FX of today will be the more modestly cooled FX of tomorrow. I don’t think 2.8GHz is at all unreasonable to expect from a 90nm Hammer; I suspect 3-3.2GHz will eventually be more like it, and if that’s the case, now we’re looking a neighborhood around 5GHz for the PIV.

I also suspect that the Opteron boards being used for the FX aren’t exactly great gaming boards either. The impression I’ve gotten looking at all the gaming benchmarks is that the difference between the FX and the 64 is rather closer than it ought to be. I suspect a socket 939 motherboard designed for desktop use will give the second generation FX an extra boost over and above what any new technologies might provide, maybe 5-7% more.

All this points to a second-generation FX platform that is substantially better than today’s AthlonXP platforms, and rather formidable by today’s standards.

But it won’t be judged by today’s standards, but tomorrow’s.

What will tomorrow bring?


As we’ve mentioned before, Prescott is going to have a limited lifespan and very limited ramping for a new generation of Intel product. The fastest Prescott planned today is 4GHz.

What we don’t know for sure yet is whether that 4GHz represents a rough guide to how far this chip can go, or just how far Intel will go with it.

So far, we’ve assumed the first, and at this point most of the indicators are pointing that way.

Should that be the case, it is very hard to see how Prescott could beat or even stay even in any overclocking race with a second-generation Hammer.

And that’s before considering the possible impact of x86-64.

However . . . .


If you look at Tejas, which will be made towards the end of 2004 and uses 90nm process technology, too, you see much more of a ramp than with Prescott. The latest numbers being tossed around are 5-7GHz, which ought to make Tejas a more than worthy competitor to any 90nm Hammer.

Indeed, Tejas may be a rather different CPU indeed, as this recent Inquirer article points out.

We’ll talk tomorrow about the concept of a modular CPU, which certainly would be revolutionary from at least a design perspective, but in an age where companies are having tremendous problems getting regular CPUs and GPUs to work right using smaller process technologies, one has to wonder about the growing pains of something like that.

But even the core of such a CPU would be an effective answer to a 90nm Hammer.

The Future…


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