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Go on admit it. You know you want a faster processor, but every time you check the prices you gasp in horror at what the current prices stand at. This CPU is no different, it is expensive to many consumers' minds and many cannot find a good enough reason to part with their hard earned money for this processor. Sure it's fast, but not is it worth the investment? Let's find out shall we?
Before I tell you about this CPU, let me give you a basic brief history into the CPU wars which led to the creation of this CPU. It was thought that the higher clocking the CPU was, the faster it would be and the more heat it would generate. To combat this, the leading industry rivals Intel and AMD (you know them right?) started to make their CPU's use smaller, more efficient manufacturing processes. Making the core of the CPU smaller and more compact meant less heat would be generated, and the closer contacts would pass information more quickly.
But that's as much in common both the CPU companies had with each other, as their other methods of manufacturing and selling their CPUs differ immensely. Intel sported a 'clock-speed sells' stance, trying to clock their CPU speeds at really high frequencies i.e. 3.2GHz, 3.4GHz. This meant that the CPU ran immensely hot, drew a lot of power and Intel discovered they couldn't clock their CPUs any higher than 3.8GHz. They hit a bottleneck. The heatsink and fan provided by Intel for their CPU in their retail boxes only just manages to keep the CPU stable at just slightly above 70 degrees Celsius. A lot of people opted to use water-cooling if they wanted an Intel CPU.
AMD on the other hand chose a different path and had their CPUs run at lower clock speed frequencies i.e. 2.2GHz. This enabled it to run a lot cooler (around 45 degrees Celsius at full load), use a lot less power, and enabled feasible overclocking (that is running a CPU faster than it is intended to be run at) even with the provided heatsink and fan in the retail box. They labelled their CPUs as 3000+ even if it was a 2.2GHz processor to show that it ran at the equivalent speed of Intel's 3GHz CPU.
So how does AMD manage to have their CPU's run more efficiently than Intel's even with lower clock speeds? Although a lot of things contribute to it such as cache memory, front side bus and the like, the main thing
Pictures of AMD Athlon 64 3500+ / 2.2 GHz processor
The retail box!
to effect it is due to the length of the CPU's pipeline.A pipeline is set in stages, and the more stages it has the longer the pipeline is. AMD's Athlon 64 CPU pipeline length is between 12 - 17, whilst Intel's Pentium 4 CPU pipeline length is 30. A longer pipeline lets CPUs be clocked at higher speeds, but this generally causes performance problems. You see, CPUs like to predict what future instructions will become available and the longer the pipeline, the further ahead the prediction is. If a CPU gets an instruction prediction wrong, it has to retrace its steps and correct the incorrect prediction/s that it made. With Intel's CPU, the long pipeline leads to the CPU backtracking a lot more than AMD's CPU, and that time spent backtracking means AMD's CPU can get up to twice as much done in the same time.
Well, in you understood that then you should understand that this AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU is a rather fast CPU by AMD. A very efficient, cool running the silent CPU, in my opinion it is a great CPU worth the money asked for it... although I would only purchase it online where it is cheaper as high street stores can rip you off.
This CPU is clocked at 2.2GHz, but it is just as fast (if not faster) as Intel's P4 3.6GHz CPU. It uses AMD's 939 Socket plug motherboards and supports DUAL DDR RAM as well as having a 64-bit instruction set for future proofing, and AMD's patented Cool'N'Quiet technology that lets the CPU power down when not used for processor demanding applications.
Be wary though, as there are a multitude of different types of 3500+ CPUs by AMD because they just keep editing the original CPU to improve it further. The original 3500+ uses the 'Newcastle" core, which basically has everything that I listed above but only has 512KB of level 2 cache memory (very fast memory storing instructions that is used over and over again so that it can be more quickly accessed by the CPU.) The next core is the "Clawhammer", which is the same as the "Newcastle" except that it has 1MB of level 2 cache memory. The third core is called the "Winchester", which is the "Newcastle" core but has been manufactured to be smaller, thus it generates less heat. The final one is the newest core called "Venice". "Venice" is a combination of the "Newcastle" and "Winchester" core, but this has the new SSE3 instruction set also built into it. In all honesty, I see very little reason to purchase the new "Venice" core 3500+ because performance is more or less the same but it costs significantly more. I personally would go for the "Clawhammer" as the 1MB level cache memory can go along way performance wise, but it is harder to find than the other three CPUs. "Newcastle" is the cheapest of the 4, but it is a very decent performing CPU in it's own right.
If you buy the retail box as I have, it should come in a very professional looking box. With it you should get the warrantee information, CPU documentation, the CPU itself with heatsink and fan and the AMD 64 computer sticker. It looks so secure that it feels like the CPU would be safe even if you dropped in down the stairs (not that I would risk doing that mind!) but that's not the case if you open it up and look inside. Still, 8/10 for box appearance. Make sure you check that the official AMD brand hologram label is located at the bottom left of the box as there are a lot of people selling fake AMD64 CPUs to the public. These holographic labels can't be faked, so make sure the box is sealed (unopened before you opened it) and that the label is there for peace of mind. I have a friend who got his 4000+ AMD64 but after it fried inside his PC, it turned out to be a 3000+ CPU instead.
Installation of the CPU into a Socket 939 motherboard is a very simple task. You merely have to lift up the socket clamp on the motherboard, drop the CPU into the socket (making sure to align it properly. An easy task thanks to the orientation indicator on the CPU itself) and then locking the clamp back down afterwards. Installing the heatsink on top of it is a very easy task as well. You have to hook one end to the clasp on one side of the socket (very easy to spot), then with a flat head screwdriver you push the other side onto the opposite clasp on the socket and it is installed securely. Plug the fan cable into the fan plug on the motherboard, and you're ready to test it out!
Setting it up on the motherboard is a different matter as some motherboards set it using software whilst others set it using hardware jumper settings or dip switches. In either case, if you read the supporting documentation it should be very easy to figure out.
The CPU itself comes with 3 years limited warrantee for peace of mind, and although I haven't replaced a CPU before, I have rang up customer technical services support for information on the CPU and they have been very helpful. Very unlike many companies that have someone very polite but know nothing about the CPU and tell you to wait for hours while they get somebody, the person on the other end answered my questions about appropriate thermal paste to be used for the CPU and more.
The speed of the CPU is one of the selling points of the CPU. It is cool, quiet and uses a lot less power than Intel's processors, but it's speed doesn't suffer as a result. I am not a certified benchmark professional, so please turn your cursors over to this link: http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/socket_939-03.html. This link will show you the AMD Athlon 64 3500+ competing against many other CPUs, including Intel's P4 and AMD's own faster clocking 4000+. In many cases, the 3500+ even matches the 3800+, which costs nearly twice as much making the 3500+ CPU very good value for money.
The current asking price for the AMD64 3500+ ranges from £130 - £180 depending on the CPU core type and where you buy it from. My favourite online retailer is ARIA (www.aria.co.uk) and they do the "Venice" core retail versions for £170. Check out other places such as EBUYER, DABS, MISCO or OVERCLOCKERS for different core types and prices. Be careful of OEM versions, as they come packaged with CPU only (and usually packaged very ugly as well in brown cardboard boxes.) You will need to buy a separate heatsink and fan if you go for the OEM CPU. Very good value for money and I class it as a mainstream CPU (mainstream = above budget level but below fastest performer level). Having AMD64 3800+ type performance at nearly half the price, what more can you ask for? The quiet nature of the CPU means that playing games or watching DVDs need not be ruined by loud spinning CPU fans anymore. I highly recommend this CPU, even if you are Intel fanatics!
Although this CPU will soon be overshadowed by the dual core AMD 64 CPUs, this would mean that this CPU will surely drop in price. If you have the patience, then hang on until then to buy your AMD64 3500+, unless you wish to go "dual core"... it's up to you!