In addition to the CPU tests, SimHQ also ran the synthetic suite’s memory tests to see how well the various test systems performed against one another. Each category is comprised of four tests that stress L1 and L2 cache and main memory performance. The following scores are the geometric mean of each category’s four tests.
Intel pulls a small victory in the read category, largely due to the individual 4KB and 192KB test scores. The write and copy tests see the AM2 parts pull ahead, with the FX-60 coming up in last place.
Last, total system power consumption was measured using an Extech power meter. Two results were generated for each processor, the first representing an idle state of the test machine running the Windows desktop for several minutes, and the second a load scenario created by running the full series of tests for PCMark05. Each score represents average wattage of the entire test system for each test scenario. Bear in mind that both test systems were built using identical hard and optical drives, graphics and sound cards, and power supply units, so the only variables between the two systems were the motherboard, memory, and CPUs. Last, the power management features of all test systems were ensured as properly functioning prior to recording the idle state’s power draw.
All three Athlons showed a lesser power consumption at the desktop than the Intel 955, which isn’t too shocking considering the power draw of the Prescott design. Surprisingly enough, however, the FX-60 showed the lowest power burn in the idle state, though this small difference is easily ascribed to system differences in motherboard and installed memory. The load scenario likewise shows similar results, with the 955 producing the heaviest power draw and the FX-60 and X2 5000+ each burning around 220W.
From a performance perspective, the AM2 parts, based on AMD’s current Athlon 64 architecture, are evolutionary rather than revolutionary processors. AMD fans will have to wait for the company’s next CPU architecture, which could possibly be a quad-core design, for AM2 parts to truly differentiate themselves from the steady progression of A64 performance gains. The DDR2 memory support, however, has brought modest gains in bandwidth-hungry situations, particularly titles like Call of Duty 2.
It’s highly unlikely, however, that 2006 has seen the last round in AMD’s barrel fired since the company will need to counter Intel’s forthcoming Conroe-based Core 2 Duo lineup; how small or powerful the market perception of this chambered salvo will be, however, is another issue in and of itself. Regardless, Intel has saddled itself with its NetBurst architecture for far too long and with the summer arrival of the company’s first new architecture for desktop processing in years could nevertheless throw a golem into AMD’s AM2 desktop gears. That said, the FX-62 and X2 5000+ offer performance that Intel currently cannot match and the choice of an AM2-based system should give plenty of room for future upgrades. And while the two CPUs tested today are hardly mainstream in price, it’s worth remembering that AMD has launched a wide array of AM2 parts for budgets of various sizes.
Athlon 64 FX-62: 8.5
Athlon 64 X2 5000+: 8.2
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