Hot on the heels of that bit of speculation about AMD going to a 333MHz FSB for Athlon the guys at The Tech Report went ahead and explored the option.
For quite a while, AMD's Athlon was the fastest x86 processor available. Intel ran into trouble scaling the Pentium III past 1GHz, and the Pentium 4 languished on a 0.18 micron process, with its longer pipeline and lower instructions per clock. In this environment, the Athlon flourished for a lot longer than Intel would have liked.More information at The Tech Report
Since then, the tide has turned. Intel's Northwood Pentium 4, with its
0.13-micron process technology (and resultant sky-high clock speeds), 512KB L2 cache, and 533MHz bus, has come on and come on strong: it's at 2.53GHz and counting, with rumors of 3GHz before the year is out. The Athlon is still a strong player if you factor in price-performance ratio, but the Pentium 4 is king of the hill, and as time goes on, the Athlon is fading.
AMD, meanwhile, is betting that its upcoming Hammer chips will turn things around. But, stray rumors aside, all indications are that the first Hammer won't be ready until December of this year at the earliest. What's AMD to do in the meantime? One answer is Barton, the planned next revision of the Athlon with 512KB of L2 cache. Another possibility, however-and one that's been getting more and more attention recently-is the possibility of a 333MHz bus for the Athlon XP.
It's certainly a move we would understand. Our fingers have repetitive
strain injury from typing phrases like "Here we see that the Athlon, with its 266MHz bus, can't take advantage of DDR333's higher memory bandwidth." Indeed, it seems like a no-brainer: Get with the chipset makers to make sure the proper dividers are in place, change the multipliers on some T-breds, and go for it. Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that. In this article, we'll explore the possible hurdles that a move to a 333MHz bus would present for AMD, as well as what the Athlon XP might stand to gain from such a move.