David versus Goliath No More

The time has finally come for AMD to bring their dual-core processor to their beloved FX processor family.  Can you believe that dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 processors have been out for more than seven months?  During these seven months the King Of The Hill (KOTH) processor for AMD has always been a single core processor. Several months ago in Texas AMD asked the reviewers what we thought the next FX processor should be and it looks like the votes for dual-core came out on top.  While some may argue that the single-core Athlon 64 processor is supreme at gaming and that the FX-60 should have been a 3.0GHz single-core part it doesn't matter because the FX-60 is already out and the change is over.

WHY DUAL-CORE FX NOW FROM AMD'S POINT OF VIEW:
It made great sense for us (AMD) to maintain FX on single core throughout 2005.  That was our plan and that was our execution.  The benchmarks proved that out as FX has become the defacto CPU to have for ultimate PC gaming.  Now it is our intention is for FX to once again stand for the ultimate desktop PC processor, not just the ultimate gaming processor.  At 2.6GHz, the FX-60 replaces the FX-55, but it is much more than that.  Combining dual-core at this higher frequency (than previous X2s) with our graphics partners' new dual-core optimized drivers make the FX-60 the perfect processor for not only gaming, but for all those multi-threaded or multi-tasking projects you would have rightfully chosen an X2 processor for.  FX-57 will remain and be sold next to FX-60, eventually to be replaced with a dual-core FX at some point in the future as well.

After reading AMD's reasoning behind the move to dual-core processors it all starts to make sense.  For the first time since dual-core processors came out the industry is now starting to utilize the technology on these CPU's that have been in place since day one. Let's take a look at our test processor!

The AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual-Core Processor

Isn't she a beauty?  Our AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 processor came dated week 36 of 2005, which means AMD has had these bad boys in production back in the summer of 2005! Looks like AMD is in no rush to launch processors as they feel like they have the edge over Intel right now.  

AMD ATHLON 64 FX-60 PROCESSOR TECH SPECS:

Test System

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode! The memory on the Intel test platform was run at 667MHz DDR2 for all the processors with 3-3-3 timings.  The memory on the AMD motheboard was run at 400MHz DDR1 with 2-3-2-6 timings. 

Here is the AMD Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

Motherboard

ASUS AN832-SLI Deluexe

Video Card

BFG Tech 7800GTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair COOL

Power Supply

OCZ 600W Powerstream

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the Intel Test Platform:

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Pentium 955

Motherboard

Intel D975XBX

Video Card

BFG Tech 7800GTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair COOL

Power Supply

OCZ 600W Powerstream

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Let's move on and take a look at the testing!

Power Consumption at Idle:

FX-60 Power Consumption at Idle

The AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 system needs 179Watts to idle, which is only 6Watts more over the previous dual-core processor from AMD.  The Intel 955 consumes the most at 185Watss thanks to the 4MB cache that is on board.

3DMark 2005 v1.2.0

Futuremark; 3DMark 2005 v1.2.0:

3DMark05 is best suited for the latest generation of DirectX 9.0 graphics cards. It is the first benchmark to require a DirectX9.0 compliant hardware with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher! By combining high quality 3D tests, CPU tests, feature tests, image quality tools, and much more, 3DMark05 is a premium benchmark for evaluating the latest generation of gaming hardware.

Intel 840 Sisoft Sandra

Moving over to 3DMark 05 version 1.2.0 we can see how dual core performs in a lightly threaded application. Here we see the Intel Pentium 955 Processor Extreme Edition take the lead for Intel, but it wasn't enough to catch the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ or the brand new AMD Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 processors.   The overall score showed the single cored 4800+ in a dead heat with the dual core FX-60.

Intel 840 Sisoft Sandra

Looking at CPU Test #1 we can see that the AMD 4800+ with it's higher frequency (2.8GHz) single core beats our the dual core FX-60 by just 0.1 frames per second.  The Intel Pentium 955 Extreme Edition has a good lead over the other Intel EE's and the 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670, but still half a fps behind.

Intel 840 Sisoft Sandra

Taking a quick look at the CPU Test details from the 3DMark05 test runs it can be seen that the Intel 955 and AMD FX-60 processors are close with only a 0.2 Frame Per Second (FPS) difference between the two in CPU test #2. 

Sandra 2005 SR3

Sisoft; Sandra 2005 SR3:

SiSoftware, founded in 1995, is one of the leading providers of computer analysis, diagnostic and benchmarking software. The flagship product, known as "SANDRA", was launched in 1997 and has become one of the most widely used products in its field. SANDRA is used by almost 400 world-wide IT publications, magazines, review sites to analyse the performance of today?s computers.

Multi-Core Support: As well as SMP (multi-processor) and SMT (multi-threading/Hyper-Threading) support we have added multi-core support for future AMD and Intel CPUs. The benchmarks have been optimised to schedule the optimum number of threads on the optimum (virtual) CPU on both multi-core and Hyper-Threaded computers.

Sandra FX-60 Results

Taking a look at the CPU multi-media benchmark results we see that the Intel 955 and Intel 840 processors take the lead on this one.  The AMD FX-60 is not too far behind though.

AMD FX-60 Memory Bandwidth

In terms of memory bandwidth the Intel processors love the 1066MHz FSB and the Intel 955 and Intel 3.73 are nearly identical because of the same bus speed.  The AMD FX-60 with it's dated DDR1 memory hold tight at 5,876MB/Sec to lead the AMD processors.

World Bench 5

PC World; WorldBench 5.0

WorldBench 5 runs on PCs using the Home, Professional, Media Center, and Tablet PC versions of Windows XP. Fifteen applications (counting the components of Office XP), make up the WorldBench 5 suite.

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Despite being composed of mainly single threaded tests, WorldBench 5 shows the Athlon 64 FX-60 out in the lead with a massive score of 134! Let's take a closer look at the individual tests.

ACD Systems; ACDSee PowerPack 5.0:

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Discreet 3ds Max 5.1 (DirectX):

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Discreet 3ds Max 5.1 (OpenGL):

PC World World Bench 5 Results

Adobe Photoshop 7:

PC World World Bench 5 Results

World Bench 5 Continued

Adobe; Premiere 6.5:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Firefox; Mozilla 1.4:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

MusicMatch Jukebox 7.1:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Nero Express 6:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Multitasking; Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder:

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

In the multitasking benchmark we have Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder operating at the same time and the difference on the singel-core 3800+/3500+ to the dual core processors is night and day. While the Intel Pentium 955 Extreme Edition Processor beat out all the Intel procesors it came in nearly 200 seconds slower than the fastest AMD processor.

World Bench 5 Continued Again

Microsoft Office XP with SP-2

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0

World Bench 6 AMD FX-60 Results

WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1

WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1

It is safe to say that after running three runs of World Bench 5 on each processor (yes, this means this section took a week to run) it is safe to say that the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 processor was the fastest processor in each of the Fifteen applications tested

Cinebench 2003

MAXON; CINEBENCH 2003:

CINEBENCH 2003 is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D R8. The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

AMD FX-60 Cinebench Rendering Results

In Cinebench 2003 we see that the old Intel Pentium 4 670 processor actually having the best time thanks to the 3.8GHz frequency and it's single-core.  On the flip side the 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 beat out the other processors by a good margin.

AMD FX-60 Cinebench Rendering Results

When we enabled multi-cpu rendering the results were exactly what we expected.  Both of the flagship dual-core processors from AMD and Intel took off in this benchmark.  Intel made a strong attempt to take the lead, but the FX-60 came in 3 seconds in front. The AMD Athlon 64 3500+ is a single-core processor and could not run the multi-CPU benchmark.

Super Pi Mod

Super PI Mod v1.4:

Super PI is a program a lot of enthusiasts use to benchmark overall system performance, as the program is capable of calculating pi up to 33.55 million digits on a timer. Many overclockers and enthusiasts are in a battle to get the lowest 1M Super Pi time possible.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 SuperPi

Many enthusiasts love looking at Super Pi scores to the one million place, so we thought we would include some numbers for you.  Once again the Intel Pentium 4 670 processor takes the win for Intel with it's higher 3.8GHz clock.  On the AMD side we found the 2.6GHz FX-60 took the win not only for the AMD processors, but also all of Intel's that we tested.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 SuperPi

Moving up to four million places we find the results to be nearly identical, which is to be expected.

F.E.A.R. Game Testing

Sierra; F.E.A.R w/ v1.0.2 patch:

F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault and Recon) is a first-person close-quarters combat game for the PC. The story begins when a paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound, and the government responds by sending in Special Forces. The group loses contact with the government when an eerie signal interrupts radio communications--and when that interference subsides moments later, the team has been destroyed. That's where you come in. As part of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else can handle, your mission is simple: eliminate the intruders at any cost, determine the origin of the signal, and contain the potential crisis before it gets out of control.

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Quake 4 Game Testing

ID Software; Quake 4 v1.0.5 Beta

id Software?s QUAKE 4, developed by Raven Software, takes players into an epic invasion on a barbaric alien planet in one of the most anticipated first person shooters for 2005.

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Here we see the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 once again take a huge lead and take the win.

DOOM 3 Game Testing

ID Software; DOOM 3

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Conclusions

The AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual-Core Processor

Nathan Kirsch's General Thoughts and Conclusions:

The AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 comes out today with a price tag of $1,031 for the processor in a box (P.I.B.). This means that the FX-60 is reserved for those die hard enthusiasts and those that can afford one. During our testing and use of the AMD FX-60 we found it extremely responsive on the desktop and current game titles with ease. During our benchmarking we put it up against the last three Intel Extreme Edition processors and found that none could really compete in todays testing. The Intel 955 did improve performance over the previous generation Intel 840 processor, but it wasn't enough to beat out the AMD FX-60 in the vast majority of our benchmarks.

After coming back from CES and seeing the Dell XPS 600 Renegade it makes me wonder why Dell went with an Intel 955 processor as our testing showed that the AMD FX-60 would have been the better choice for the market that computer was aimed at.  It's a shame that Dell showed off their first Quad-SLI based Intel system only a week before AMD launched their FX-60 processor.  Imagine what that Dell system would be like running the FX-60 overclocked above 3GHz with Quad-SLI graphics.  Marketing gimmick or not if I was going to spend that kind of money I'd want the best CPU on the market and in Q1 2006 that would be the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 processor. 

Looking back at the performance numbers I am left looking for the 'turbo' button on our Intel test systems.  The extreme edition processors are starting to look a little less extreme these days even though Intel keeps making them better. With no turbo button in sight Intel fans are going to have to either wait for Conroe or jump on board the X2 ship with AMD.  In closing keep in mind that AMD's socket AM2 is coming out later this year along with new motherboards that support DDR2 memory. It looks like the battle for market share in the second half of the year is going to be a big one.  Intel says that Conroe is the real deal, while AMD is talking up their socket AM2 boards. 

Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 processor is no joke! For the first time AMD bridges the dual-core/gamer divide with a processor that will satisfy even the pickiest consumers.