AMD Promises DirectX 11 in 2009

 AMD has confirmed rumors that it is working on DirectX 11, announcing at CEATEC that it plans to release its first DirectX 11-compatible GPUs in 2009. The company also predicted an increase in general purpose computing on GPUs (GPGPU) and a transition to a 40nm fabricating standard, which ought to give graphics chip performance rates a considerable boost. In layman terms: Things are about to get a lot bigger and a lot prettier.

Bigger cache boosts performance of Athlon XP 3000+ processor.

AMD has won its game of “cache up” with Intel. The newest Athlon XP processors, code-named Barton, have double the Level 2 cache of previous models. Our first tests show the results: Barton-based Athlon XP 3000+ systems flew through productivity work, just topping the fastest Pentium 4 systems we’ve tested. AMD-based PCs also continue to triumph in the pricing contest, often selling for hundreds less than comparably configured P4 computers.
Record Breakers
We tested three high-end PCs carrying the Athlon XP 3000+: Polywell’s $2155 Poly 880NF2-3000; Sys Technology’s $3153 Sys Performance 3000+; and Falcon Northwest’s $3275 Mach V Athlon XP 3000+. All of them had 1GB of 333-MHz DDR memory and a slew of high-end components, including ATI’s Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card. The Polywell and Falcon machines ran Windows XP Home while the Sys ran Windows XP Professional (a negligible factor in our PC WorldBench 4 tests). Polywell sent a preproduction unit; the other two PCs were shipping models.
The Sys PC raced in with a score of 137 on our benchmark–the fastest result of any system to date. The Polywell checked in at 136; the Falcon, at 134–all insignificant performance differences.
By comparison, the zippiest 3.06-GHz P4 system we’ve tested, a previously reviewed $2860 Sys unit with 512MB of 1.066-GHz RDRAM, scored 132, just slightly lower than our top-performing Athlon XP 3000+ system.
Three additional 3.06-GHz P4 systems equipped with 1GB of memory that we tested for the Januaryhyperthreading story averaged 121. That means the top Athlon XP PC scored about 13 percent higher, a noticeable difference.
For comparison we also tested AMD-based Poly and Falcon systems using the original, non-Barton Athlon XP 2800+ chip; PC WorldBench 4 results fell by 2 to 4 points. In several other tests, however–including Nero Burning ROM and Musicmatch–the 3000+ PCs performed slightly below the 2800+ systems.
The 3000+ systems’ average time of 226 seconds in the AutoCAD test trounced the P4 PCs’ average time of 273 seconds. The 3000+ PCs also outperformed the Intel-based systems in the Photoshop, Premiere, Nero Burning ROM, and Unreal Tournament tests; the P4 machines prevailed in the Musicmatch and Return to Castle Wolfenstein tests.
The 3000+ Skinny
AMD is shipping three new Barton-based processors: The Athlon XP 3000+ (running at 2.167 GHz), a new XP 2800+ (2.083 GHz), and the first XP 2500+ (1.833 GHz). All three include a 512KB L2 cache and a 333-MHz frontside bus. The 2800+ Barton-based CPU replaces an existing Athlon XP 2800+ chip that AMD shipped in small quantities to five PC vendors in fall 2002.
The original 2800+ chip, which runs at 2.25 GHz, is faster than both its replacement and the 3000+ chip. What gives? According to AMD, the 2800+ model number is based on the level of performance the chip delivers in PCs when running certain applications. The new 2800+ uses cache instead of megahertz to reach that level of application performance.
By the time you read this, all 2800+ chips shipping in PCs should be Barton-based models, according to AMD.
The company plans to ship an Athlon XP 3200+ processor by mid-2003, and in September it will debut its oft-delayed Athlon 64 CPU. AMD’s future chip pairs 64-bit technology with a faster memory interface that should lead to improved performance.
Intel also plans several new chips, including a 3.2-GHz P4 that should be ready by April, says Kevin Krewell, general manager at research firm In-Stat/MDR. The company will follow that with a 3.4-GHz chip, code-named Prescott, offering twice the P4’s current L2 cache (1MB) and improved hyperthreading, he says.
In the meantime, your best deal is likely a computer with AMD’s Athlon XP 2800+ chip, since the prices of such systems are noticeably lower than those of 3000+ PCs (about $200) but their performance is not. And the price differences between Athlon XP 3000+ machines and 3-GHz P4 systems can run as high as $600.

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