Motherboard Guide

ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe/Wireless Edition (NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI) review

Sneak Peek: Core 2 Extreme X6900 and Athlon 64 FX-64 Performance Preview

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Introduction

Battle of the Titans

In the past two articles we've touched on Intel's newly launched Core 2 microprocessors, with the first covering the performance and technology of the initial three announced models, the Core 2 Duo E6600, E6700 and the Core 2 Extreme X6800 in detail. We then delved into the thermals and power consumption of these new processors, comparing the effectiveness of the advanced power saving features in the new Core microarchitecture against the previous generation Netburst and AMD's current Athlon 64 FX line-up.

At this point, you've either been blown away by the sheer round-about turn Intel has made with the Core 2 processor on all fronts from price/performance to power saving and heat dissipation or for the more level-headed, you're probably asking what can be expected from the two microprocessor giants in the future, or at least until the end of the year?

AMD has already responded with the recent dramatic price cuts across their desktop line-up to somewhat level the playing field with the Intel Core 2 in terms of price/performance in the short term and have stolen Intel's limelight slightly with their ATI buyout. Then there is the AMD 4x4, AMD's dual-core, dual-socket technology that is all hyped to take back the enthusiast crown.

Intel on the other hand seems to be riding easy with Core 2, though it is in the grapevine that they have sped up their quad-core processor roadmap as a precaution, just in case AMD's 4x4 does indeed make a big splash. However, all these technologies are still too far off into the future to foresee accurately and thus, we won't go too far as to speculate the 'what ifs' and the 'whens'.

Instead, let us take a look at the near future. AMD's next confirmed high-end processor part will most definitely be the Athlon 64 FX-64 and Intel themselves have the Core 2 Extreme X6900 slated in their roadmap. Both these high-end parts have originally been predicted to be released at the end of 2006, but Intel's current lead with their Core 2 launch have prompted rumors that AMD may have the Athlon 64 FX-64 out as early as August.


Test Setup

In the following pages, we will attempt to take a sneak peek into the performance levels of these upcoming CPU. Both the AMD Athlon 64 FX-64 and Intel Core 2 Extreme X6900 are merely frequency updates to their predecessors. The Athlon 64 FX-64 should be clocked at 3GHz (up from 2.8GHz of the Athlon 64 FX-62) and carry the same 2x1MB L2 cache and 125W TDP design. The Core 2 Extreme X6900 will also be identical to the current X6800, but will run at 3.2GHz instead (up from 2.93GHz). As of the point of publication, both CPU vendors do not endorse the availability of these parts, but from their respective projected roadmaps and educated speculation based on information available, the specs of the upcoming CPU variants are probable.

For comparison we will be reusing our benchmark scores from our Core 2 Performance Review article, which includes the Athlon 64 FX-62, Core 2 Duo E6600, E6700 and Core 2 Extreme X6800. The test bed configuration will be the same as before as well, but we will list it down below for reference. Since our Athlon 64 FX-62 and Core 2 Extreme X6800 processors are both multiplier unlocked, we are able to overclock them to these speeds through a simple multiplier increase. All other settings like memory and bus speeds remain intact. The CPU-Z screen below show the overclocked CPUs that tally with the speculated frequencies of the FX-64 and X6900 respectively.


AMD Athlon 64 FX Configuration

  • ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe (nForce 590 SLI chipset)
  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-62
  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 @ FX-64 (3GHz, 200x15)
  • 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 non-ECC memory modules (CAS 4, 4-4-12)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA Detonator XP 84.21
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2

Intel Core 2 Configuration

  • Intel Desktop Board D975XBX (Intel 975X Express chipset)
  • Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, Core 2 Duo E6700 and E6600
  • Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ X6900 (3.2GHz, 266x12)
  • 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 non-ECC memory modules (CAS 4. 4-4-12)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA Detonator XP 84.21
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2