AMD Athlon 4 – Desktop Palomino Core

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Some Observations…

So the new Athlon 4 includes SSE support , but is it working? Yes it is (as reported by programs that check for it). That should just be a function of the BIOS, and with the Soyo K7V Dragon being brand new it is optimized for the Athlon 4 with SSE enabled.

Are the other performance enhancements enabled and working? By the test results shown above I’d say yes. Is PowerNow! Used? Not that I can tell, but the BIOS is very new.

Does the CPU run cooler? The Athlon 4 seems to run about 3C (42C vs. 45C) cooler than the Athlon in my testing. Does the Mainboard read an internal CPU temp sensor? I don’t think so, but will need to check on that one.

So, do you wait for the Palomino core Athlon 4 to come to market before buying a new CPU? That is something you will have to decide for yourself, although the estimated intro date is mid-September 2001, so it is hard to tell when they will be generally available. Also the performance difference in most cases is so slight you’d never notice the difference, and the price difference is unknown. Right now the Athlon MP 1.2 is (at dealer level) about $100 more than an Athlon (T-Bird) 1.2 and about $40 more than the 1.4GHz version, so it is hard to say if the Athlon 4 will carry a price premium or not. You have two decisions to make: Are you willing to wait and pay more for the latest? Expect the Athlon 4 1.5GHz to be available at its introduction, so that will have a bearing on your decision if you want the latest and fastest Athlon.

Mainboards and Athlon 4 support is one question I can’t answer since I’ve only tested one so far. I would guess that won’t be too much of an issue as long as BIOS’s are up to date. But if you are looking for a new Mainboard available now with the thought of upgrading to an Athlon 4 later you might want to check real carefully to make sure it is truly and fully supported.

What does this all mean for the re-seller? Well, time to start planning for a new product. Be aware of when it is going to be introduced and don’t get stuck with old inventory (Athlon with the T-Bird core). Start checking now to see if the Mainboards you sell are compatible or if there will be either new or revised models available later. Start working on some marketing plans to show your customers the advantage of the newer Athlon 4, not only over the old Athlon, but also the P4 (don’t forget – there will be new P4 CPU’s and Mainboards mid-September also).

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