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AMD processor questions

Old 08-13-01, 02:02 PM
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AMD processor questions

I must plead ignorance when it comes to AMD processors. I've always built with Intel Pentiums. However, for the value and performance I'm now switching. I have some questions about compatability, etc.

First...Durons are to Pentium 3's as Thunderbirds are to Pentium 4's? Is that a fair analogy? Or to be more specific...what are the differences between the Duron & Thunderbird chip and which you suggest? What I find strange is that for = mhz the Thunderbirds are often cheaper (though they are the newer processor, correct?).

The mobo i'm looking at is the Asus A7VE. I don't believe it will support the Thunderbird. I'm shopping at googlegear as they seem to have to best prices for what I consider reputable stores. They've got a sweet mobo for the Tbirds but it's up near $140 and I'm not sure the extra benefit is worth the cost.

I'm not looking to O/C either. Just straight stock.
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Old 08-13-01, 02:35 PM
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Re: AMD processor questions

Originally posted by Nefarious
First...Durons are to Pentium 3's as Thunderbirds are to Pentium 4's? Is that a fair analogy? Or to be more specific...what are the differences between the Duron & Thunderbird chip and which you suggest? What I find strange is that for = mhz the Thunderbirds are often cheaper (though they are the newer processor, correct?).
I think a better analogy might be the Celeron is to the Pentium III as the Duron is to the Athlon. Basically, the Duron is the "value"/"cheap" CPU that AMD makes.

The Thunderbird is simply the 3rd generation "Athlon" chip. The 4th generation chip, "Athlon MP" is supposed to be out any day now.
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Old 08-13-01, 02:41 PM
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Re: AMD processor questions

Originally posted by Nefarious
The mobo i'm looking at is the Asus A7VE. I don't believe it will support the Thunderbird. I'm shopping at googlegear as they seem to have to best prices for what I consider reputable stores. They've got a sweet mobo for the Tbirds but it's up near $140 and I'm not sure the extra benefit is worth the cost.
That mobo looks a little dated, and it doesn't support the faster DDR memory. If you're getting a new Thunderbird, you'll probably want to go for one that uses a 266mhz (or 200 maybe) FSB, and DDR memory.

I'm no expert in Athlon mobos, frankly theres too many out there, and I haven't done my research. So I don't have a specific model to recommend to you. But I'd go for one that has DDR support, 5 PCI slots, 3-4 DIMM slots, AGP Pro slot, and no integrated audio or video.
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Old 08-13-01, 02:45 PM
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Re: Re: AMD processor questions

Originally posted by Snowball


That mobo looks a little dated, and it doesn't support the faster DDR memory. If you're getting a new Thunderbird, you'll probably want to go for one that uses a 266mhz (or 200 maybe) FSB, and DDR memory.

I'm no expert in Athlon mobos, frankly theres too many out there, and I haven't done my research. So I don't have a specific model to recommend to you. But I'd go for one that has DDR support, 5 PCI slots, 3-4 DIMM slots, AGP Pro slot, and no integrated audio or video.
So something like the Asus A7A266

that's the one that I mentioned that is about $140.

It does, however, accept the DDR memory and have 266fsb


http://www.googlegear.com/ggweb/jsp/...uctCode=240248

It has integrated Audio but that is just a short term solution.

Last edited by Nefarious; 08-13-01 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-13-01, 05:04 PM
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Nefarious,

Try Google Part#240249

It is the same motherboard, but without the audio if that is what you need.

I am interested in your findings as well since I am about to build myself a Athlon setup soon to replace my aging 533 Celeron.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-13-01, 05:59 PM
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Looks like Newegg.com is the best bet. They have retail AMD processors whereas googlegears seem to be OEM. They also have the mobo for roughly the same price. Overall the whole wad i'm after is cheaper there.

enlight 300w case - 50.00
asus 7100 - 32mb sdram geforce 2 - 79.00
asus a7a266 - 135.00
ibm 40gb - 110.00
sound card - 26.00
plextor 16x w/ burnproof - 165.00 (minus 15.00 for purchasing the IBM drive too).
AMD 1ghz tbird with 266fsb - 93.00


shipping for all is like 35.00

getting memory from Crucial (256mb of ddram - 41.39)
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Old 08-13-01, 06:12 PM
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Luckily I already have:

32MB GeForce2 with a TV output
12x TDK VeloCD CD-RW

That will save me a little bit I guess.

Don't forget that all important 3.5" Floppy drive. I am using one from an old 486 computer

What is the difference between retail and OEM? Does one come in an original box and the other in a bag or something?
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Old 08-13-01, 06:29 PM
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Nefarious, this isn't all necessarily directed at you. I started writing what was to be a short message, but then I kept going back to add and clarify and soon I had this big honking article. I'm sure a lot of this info you probably already know, but I just included it all for completeness' sake.

Both the current Athlon and Duron CPU's are based on the "Thunderbird" core, the difference being that the Athlon has 256KB of L2 cache whereas the Duron only has 128KB. Also, the Athlon is available at higher clock speeds. Both use the same Socket A interface and can be used interchangeably on every Socket A motherboard I know about.

There are a couple things that can be somewhat confusing in the Athlon/Duron market. The L1 and L2 cache of these CPUs are exclusive unlike the P3. That is, the data held in the L1 cache is different from the data held in the L2 cache. So it's fair to say that the total amount of on die cache for an Athlon is 384 KB (L1 + L2) which is the number used by a few overzealous retailers in their ads. There is no difference between these "384 KB Cache" Athons and the "256KB L2 cache" Athlons that are normally advertised.

Also, the FSB of the Athlon/Durons is technically 100 MHz or 133 MHz. Those are the actual clock rates. But the bus is "double pumped" so as to double the actual data transfer rate to effectively 200 MHz or 266 MHz. Most web sites and ads use the higher numbers, of course, but once in a while you see the less popular (but more technically correct) lower numbers and it often causes some confusion.

For building your first AMD system, you should be aware of the fact that AMD CPUs are more fragile than their Intel counterparts. When mounting the heatsink/fan, you must take care to insure that the pressure on the CPU is distributed evenly while you engage the retaining mechanism. Also, there is no temperature sensor built into the AMD CPUs. On Intel CPUs, there is a mechanism on-die that senses when the core temperature is getting too high and will shut the CPU down before damage occurs. An AMD CPU will happily burn itself up if proper cooling is not used.

One very cool thing about AMD CPUs, however, is that their clock multipliers can be very easily unlocked. If you're an overclocker, that is an invaluable "feature." Of course, if you're not into that kind of thing, then its kind of moot. If you are, however, just ask and I or many other here could give you more details.

Currently, AMD is in the midst of transitioning to a new "Palomino" core that they've already introduced. Eventually it will replace the Thunderbird core in both the Athlon and Duron lines. This new Palomino core is largely just a refinement of Thunderbird, but the major changes are these:

- Design efficiencies allow the Palomino to operate at lower power and/or higher clock speeds than Thunderbird.

- Hardware memory pre-fetch improves memory performance.

- Full SSE 1 (not SSE 2) instruction support.

- And for the mobile version only, "PowerNow" power management functionality.

One rather minor improvement, but relevant to what I mentioned before is the addition of an on-die thermal sensor. Unfortunately, AMD's implementation requires motherboard support and relies on the BIOS to sense the CPU temperature and initiate the shutdown.

Currently, the Palomino core CPUs are only available as the Mobile Athlon 4, which is designed for notbooks, and the AthlonMP, which is intended for use with AMD's newly released AMD 760MP. As their names suggest, the AthlonMP and 760MP are designed for multi-processor environments. While the AthlonMP, by all accounts, can be used in regular Socket A motherboards, it's really targeted at the workstation/low-end server markets and it's current price reflects that.

The release of a desktop CPU based on Palomino has been delayed a number of times for unknown reasons. It's expected to be virtually identical to the AthlonMP, but called the Athlon 4; though I'm not sure whether that's been officially confirmed.

As for chipsets, there's plenty to choose from. Here's the playbook on the current generation of available chipsets which all support DDR-SDRAM except for the last one. These are all IMHO, of course.

AMD 760 - The first DDR-SDRAM chipset available and still the best all-around choice. Fast with proven compatibility and stability, its only negative is a high price.

Via KT266 - A good choice for the value conscious. Just make sure you've got the latest BIOS and drivers for best performance.

ALi Magik - Performance has improved to respectable levels with the latest BIOS and driver updates, but cheap is the only thing really going for this chipset.

SiS 735 - Newest and fastest chipset (or chip rather, since it's a single chip solution). Availability is limited to a bunch of no-name motherboard makers right now, but I'm sure Asus, MSI, et al will soon have their boards out. Personally, I'm very skeptical of SiS' ability to design a stable and compatible board as their record in this regard has been quite mixed.

Via KT133A - Only board listed here that only accepts PC133 SDRAM. Older generation, but it was the performance leader in its day and is still fast enough to be considered competitive. It's an excellent value since those boards are cheap now. And if you've got a bunch of PC133 SDRAM you want to continue using, this would be a great choice.

I'm personally the type that prefers proven quality and reliability over low cost, so I usually recommend Asus when it comes to motherboard brands. They're the king of the enthusiast market and it's well deserved. MSI has been impressive of late, so I've started to recommend them as well. Other than that, Gigabyte, Soyo, Epox, and FIC all have their fans. With those last two, I've had bad experiences in the past working with them and I personally think they're crap. They may have gotten better since then, but I'll never know.
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Old 08-13-01, 06:43 PM
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Wow. Thanks for the great info. I've never done any overclocking. Mostly from lack of knowledge and inability to eat the cost if I were to ruin the chip.

I agree with you completely on Asus boards. I love them and have always used them. Motherboards are not an area to skimp in my opinion.
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Old 08-13-01, 09:01 PM
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Originally posted by Nefarious
Wow. Thanks for the great info. I've never done any overclocking. Mostly from lack of knowledge and inability to eat the cost if I were to ruin the chip.

I agree with you completely on Asus boards. I love them and have always used them. Motherboards are not an area to skimp in my opinion.
be careful putting on the heatsinks
try carefully using a screw driver( not phillips )

retail vs oem

retail- you get an unattached lower end heatsink and fan that will do the job just not as well as other HS/Fan combos will. if you are going to overclock you will be limited by this HS/Fan combo.

longer warranty also.

oem- no cheap HS/Fan combo shorter warranty also.

Like ASUS motherboards also. I am using a A7V133 myself since I wanted to use my SDram a bit longer
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