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Review: AMD XP1700 JIUHB Testing

by Tarinder Sandhu on 3 April 2003, 00:00 5.0


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A question of stepping

Everyone wants something for nothing, it seems. That's particularly true of the PC hardware enthusiast who's always looking to eke that extra bit of performance from their PC(s). You can look at a number of different hardware forums and see a general pattern emerge. Users often chime in with just how well their PC is faring, with particular kudos paid to those who have pushed their components far past stated specifications.

Generally speaking, there are two accepted methods for pushing your components, usually processors and graphics cards, to far beyond factory specifications. You can, firstly, choose to use enhanced cooling. Reducing the operating temperature of these multi-million-transistor-bearing devices allows you to reduce electrical interference caused by excited, hot electrons. Faster switching time and a smooth electron flow, in turn, allows one to raise the frequencies well above stock speeds. That's all well and fine, but this approach often requires loud or esoteric cooling.

The second approach requires a little background reading and forum perusing. Thinking of AMD processors in particular, and with due appreciation that AMD have switched their CPU manufacturing down to 0.13u (Thoroughbred) process, we'd hazard that the lower speed processors, based on this reduced micron technology, should go far past their rated speeds.

AMD currently produce Athlon XP CPUs, on a 0.13u manufacturing process, all the way from the lowly XP1700 (1.466GHz / 133FSB) to XP2800 (2240MHz / 166FSB). It's no secret that all Thoroughbred-based processors comfortably exceed their native speed, however the high-end XPs exclusively use the very best wafers. These processors are given the nomenclature of Thoroughbred B.

Demand is a strange animal. Sometimes both Intel and AMD have to fulfill demand for various grade of CPU by using certain wafers, and like any cost-conscious business, AMD try to minimise production costs by employing the minimum number of fabrication lines as is possible. Therefore it's quite possible to earmark a particularly pure wafer, initially destined for XP2400+ speeds, to lower speeds. Market demand dictates all.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we, the enthusiast sector, could identify high-grade XP cores that were downgraded to lower speed XPs in order to fill market demand ?. We'd be looking at relatively cheap CPUs with the potential to emulate the basic clock speeds of the more expensive processors.