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Athlon 64 3700+ Review


End of the Socket 754 Line?

By Josh Walrath



            Ever since AMD released the socket 939 Athlon 64s, there has been one chip that was released at the same time but never received much attention.  Only a handful of publications received samples of this underrepresented processor, as AMD mainly sent out small quantities of Athlon 64 3800+ and Athlon FX-53 processors.  The Athlon 64 3700+ was this final processor of the group released, and it looks to be the final Athlon 64 processor for the Socket 754 market, which for many users is quite unfortunate.  Those that bought up the Athlon 64 before the introduction of the socket 939 architecture thought they would still be receiving processor updates for years to come.  Though the socket 754 architecture is not dead, it appears at this time that the only new processors it will receive will be the Sempron based products.  This of course is not set in stone, but it does appear that AMD will focus on the S-939 architecture as the mainstream offering from now on out.

            The Athlon 64 3700+ is based on the same core as the Athlon FX-53, except it does not feature the dual memory channel architecture.  It is clocked at 2.4 GHz with 128 KB of L1 cache (split into Data and Instruction cache) and 1 MB of L2 cache.  All 3700+ parts are from the CG revision, which has a slightly redesigned memory controller, HyperTransport controller, and other tweaks.  The memory controller does actually work at full processor speed, which can give it a significant advantage in some situations over off-die controllers (such as what the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 utilize).  Having the memory controller on-die also cuts the memory access latency down by a very significant margin.  While the 3700+ does not feature a dual channel memory controller, most memory accesses are not streaming accesses, and instead consist of one or two d-words.  This is the main reason why the Athlon 64 3700+ can keep up so well with the Socket 939 Athlons and the Pentium 4 processors.

AMD doesn't bundle anything fancy into their PIB products, but a good quality heatsink and fan, case sticker, and a 3 year warranty should be enough for most everyone.

            The 3700+ is still made on AMDs 130 nm SOI process from Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany.  This process has turned out to be quite robust for AMD, but the main problem they have is that the die size for the Athlon 64 is relatively large as compared to other competing products.  This will be fixed when AMD transitions their Athlon 64 line to their new 90 nm SOI process (AMD is currently shipping Mobile Athlon 64 parts based on this process, and has recently started shipping desktop products).  It appears as though AMD will release one more speed grade of the Athlon 64 on the 130 nm SOI process, and these look to be clocked at 2.6 GHz.  I must reiterate that it is still very much an unknown if AMD will ship a higher clocked Athlon 64 Socket 754 chip anytime soon.

Speaking of heatsinks, here is a closer look at what is included with AMD's package.  This is a very quiet product, and due to its overall design and size, keeps the Athlon 64 3700+ nice and cool.  Other products may do better, but for a stock cooling solution, it is more than adequate.

            The 200 MHz difference between the 3400+ and the 3700+ does not seem like much, but when the user considers the overall efficiency of the Athlon 64 architecture, this 200 MHz should make a large difference in overall performance.  The 400 MHz jump from a 3000+ or 3200+ to the 3700+ should make a world of difference.  Users that find their Athlon 64 2800+ to be a bit pokey should take a very long look at the 3700+.

            So, with that in mind, the Athlon 64 3700+ is an outstanding performer, but could be the end of the line for performance oriented Socket 754 chips.


Next: Errata and Testing


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