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 Processors ( AMD, Intel)

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PostSubject: Processors ( AMD, Intel)   Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:42 am

Processors ( AMD, Intel)


AMD Processor


AMD
processors are an excellent choice. Market conditions and technology
fluctuate, but nearly always they provide a better bang-for-the-buck
than their Intel counterparts, with no compromise in system quality. I
have the AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ AM2 dual-core processor in My Super PC.

Today's
PC's use a 64-bit architecture. While 64-bit hardware, meaning the
processor and motherboard, are mature and proven components, the full
benefit of 64-bit cannot be realized without an operating system that
supports it and with applications that use it. The software is still
pretty much a 32-bit world, even after the arrival of Windows Vista. A
computer that uses the 64-bit version (often designated as x64) of the
operating system must use hardware drivers that are 64-bit as well.
This is bad because the 64-bit version of the drivers may not come in
the retail box and may be difficult to find. They are unlikely to be
desirable over their 32-bit counterparts. Applications that are 32-bit
should, in theory, work under an x64 operating system, but in practice
this is not always so, especially with low level utilities like
anti-virus programs. And performance of 32-bit software is not
penalized for running under an x64 operating system. For now, the best
approach in terms of avoiding problems is to stick with all 32-bit
software, including the operating system and drivers. It will all run
fine on 64-bit hardware and will receive the benefit of running on the
faster hardware. A processor type is
identified by its "socket type". There are a number of socket types
available made by both AMD and Intel, so it's important to know the
best one for building your own computer. Some socket types may be on
their way to being discontinued, others may be too new to try, and
others may be best suited for purposes other than desktop computers. The
AMD processor most popular for a desktop computer is of type "socket
AM2". From Intel, the processor type is "socket LGA775". Both
processors are designed to be used with DDR2 RAM and require a socket
compatible motherboard. Both technologies are well proven. A
single processor can have more than one core, the core being the part
of the component that does the actual processing. The AMD Athlon 64 X2
processors, which are socket AM2 type processors, have two cores and
are called dual core processors. The Intel Core 2 Duo and the Intel
Core 2 Quad processors, which are socket LGA775 type processor, come
with two cores and four cores, respectively. Singe processor computers
that contain one or more cores are the popular choice. Motherboards
that support multiple processors, each with perhaps multipe cores, are
not used for desktop computers to any real extent. It's worth noting that the days of "Moore's
Law" are unfortunately over. This "law" was an observation or
prediction made by Gordon Moore of Intel in 1965 that processor speeds
would double every 18 months. The prediction held true for nearly 40
years, but if it were still true then 20GHz processors would be
commonplace today. In the future, the emphasis will be on concurrency
(parallel processing) to achieve performance gains. Multiple processor
systems and multi-core processors are steps in this direction, but
without software designed to take advantage of it they provide little
gain. Yet parallel software design is far more complex than the serial
software design of today, so don't expect any drastic changes in the
near future. It may be some bittersweet solace that the processor you
buy today actually won't become an outdated slowpoke as quickly as its
predecessors became. Socket AM2 - Athlon 64 X2 Processors


There
are two models of the socket AM2 Athlon 64 X2 processor, namely Windsor
and Brisbane. Windsor is well established and I'm using a Windsor model
in My Super PC. Windsor models are dual core processors and come in
speeds from 3800+ to 6000+. The newer Brisbane model is primarily a
manufacturing change. A Brisbane processor and Windsor
processor of the same rated speed, such as 4200+, will perform
similarly. The overall functional difference between the two models is
small. There is, however, a potential for appreciable difference in
price due to the different manufacturing processes. Processors
are often available with two different amounts of cache. For example,
the Windor models are often available with either 512KB of cache or 1MB
of cache. The extra cache gives a bump in performance, a higher price
point, of course, but without increasing the core GHz speed. Such is
the case with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ processor, which runs at
2.2GHz and comes with 512KB of cache, versus the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
processor, which also runs at 2.2GHz but comes with 1MB of cache.
Performance improvement due to cache size diminishes as the cache gets
large. At these very large cache sizes, I'd feel better that I was
actually buying a performance increase that would be effective across
any type of task when the extra dollars brought me a faster GHz. For more information about different types of AMD processors, see this AMD Athlon Processor Comparison Guide. Socket LGA775 - Intel Core 2 Processors


The socket LGA775 Intel Core 2 processor models are:
Allendale, Core 2 Duo E6300 and Core 2 Duo E6400, dual-core processor
Conroe, Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E6750, dual-core processor
Kentsfield, Core 2 Quad Q6600, quad-core processor
All
of these processor models are proven and highly regarded. For more
information about Intel Core 2 processors, see this Intel Core 2 Duo
article. Retail Versus OEM Processors


There
is no difference between the retail version of a processor and the OEM
version of a processor. The retail version will come with a CPU cooler
(a heat sink and fan combination) used to keep the processor from
overheating. The CPU cooler that comes in the retail package will do
the job just fine, and it's sure to be compatible with the processor in
which it is packaged. The processor I have in My Super PC today was
purchased in the retail package as pictured above. The
OEM version of a processor does not come in a retail box, but comes as
just the processor alone, usually wrapped in bubble wrap. I've used OEM
processors in a number of computers. Unlike the retail box, an OEM
processor does not come with a CPU cooler. Purchasing a CPU cooler
separately allows you to have something that cools better and performs
more quietly than the CPU cooler that comes in the retail package. Be
sure and use one that supports the socket type of the processor. I've
written up my CPU cooler experiences at Build A Computer Like My Super
PC - CPU Cooler And Case Fans. The OEM version of the processor is
often cheaper and may cover the difference in buying the CPU cooler
separately. The OEM version is typically warranted for a much shorter
period of time, often 30 days. But the consensus opinion is that even
only one month is plenty of time to know if the processor is good or
not. If it's going to fail then it will fail soon after it is used. In
addition, many people tinker around with overclocking the processor. If
the processor has to be modified, which is often the case, then that
voids the warranty anyway. By the way, overclocking the processor is a
whole subject in itself. The short answer on overclocking is "Don't
bother", but for the longer answer see Build A Computer Like My Super
PC - Overclocking. One danger with buying an OEM processor is that it's
not a shrink-wrapped package. So maybe some nefarious someone has
already checked out the processor in some way and determined something
negative about it - like it doesn't overclock well or doesn't even
work! Guys who deal in processors for a living can tell something about
it just by looking at all those tiny numbers etched on the top of it.
And plenty of those selling OEM processors handle them carelessly,
bouncing them around with no protection in a plastic tray like candy in
a candy dish, flipping through them with their bare fingers - haven't
they heard about ESD (electrostatic discharge) - grounding - wrist
straps - "Hello-o". So be sure you want to take extra care to buy your
OEM Athlon processor from a trustworthy source like the one I recommend
at Build A Computer Like My Super PC - Cost To Build A Computer -
Processor. Here is an example of how an OEM processor might be
packaged. This is an Athlon 64 3400+ processor I used in a previous
version of My Super PC. This packaging is typical.Bubble-wrap around
the processor sealed inside it's antistatic bag. Best Processor Choice


Generally
speaking, any of the AMD socket AM2 Athlon 64 X2 processors or the
Intel socket LGA775 Intel Core 2 Duo processors make sound choices. The
choice largely comes down current market price fluctuations and your
budget. Be aware that the processor and motherboard must be of the same
socket type, and the CPU cooler must be compatible with the socket type
of the processor. Otherwise, for these two groups of processors, all of
the other components in the computer are compatible with either one. RAM
is a bottle-neck in any computer. For best performance, a computer
using a socket AM2 processor or socket LGA775 processor should be
configured with low-latency, high-speed RAM, such as the Crucial
Ballistix 1024MB PC2-8500 DDR2 RAM.
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