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   Review : AMD Sempron 3400+ »  


 AMD Sempron 3400+ - Preamble
 Date  : Nov 16th, 2005
 Category  : CPU
 Manufacturer   : AMD
 Author  : Jin-Wei Tioh
AMD admittedly caught us a little off-guard when they launched the Sempron 3400+. Like most enthusiasts, we were keeping our eye on the higher end of microprocessor development, principally the migration to multiple cores such as in the Athlon64 X2, Xbox 360 and PS3.

To be fair, there hasn't been all that much activity since the inception of the Sempron line in June 2004, which was segmented into Socket A and Socket 754 products. The Socket A variants are based on the older K7 architecture, topping out at 3000+ and have faded into relative obsolescence.

On the other hand, the Socket 754 variants are based on the K8 architecture, eschewing some of the less important features of their full-blooded Athlon64 brothers, namely x64, Cool 'n Quiet and dual-channel memory support. This was accompanied by a decrease in L2 cache size - straight from the Duron and Celeron playbook. The cache reduction (to 256KB) noticeably decreased performance, since the K8 architecture's integrated memory controller simply cannot reduce memory access latency to that of L2 cache SRAM levels. However, they remained extremely competitive products especially in the hands of enthusiasts, who often overclocked them to make up for the smaller cache size.

In April 2005, the Sempron 3300+ was launched based on the Palermo core. It was manufactured on AMD's new 90nm process and featured all the enhancements that made it into the Athlon64 Venice core - SSE3 support, memory controller enhancements and a lower operating voltage. So we now have a Sempron that runs cooler, finally supports the full feature-set of the Athlon64 and should be easier to overclock due to more core voltage headroom and a higher multiplier.

Heaven on earth? Unfortunately, no. The Sempron 3300+'s L2 cache was further reduced to 128KB. While non-cache intensive applications ran just fine, cache sensitive applications such as games suffered severely. Increasing clockspeed failed to improve performance, indicating that at least 256KB of L2 cache is required by the K8 architecture to function well.

The Sempron 3400+ effectively remedies this dilemma. Let's now introduce this new Socket 754 contender.

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