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Vital Statisics

We need to cover a couple of basics here before we go too far in this duscussion. The most obvious is that these processors cannot use the same motherboards. I have to point that out because I'd hate to hear a story of bent pins in a CPU socket. Intel's socket design used 370 pins while AMD's uses 420. That could end up being a deciding factor for a lot of people. I realize that means you have to get a new board to move over to the Duron or T-Bird but we'll leave that for the conclusion page. Let's go over a couple of other factors here. The most logical order I could put them in was FSB, Level 1 cache, and Level 2 cache.


The Athlon front side bus is one of its most misunderstood concepts. When AMD released the specs for the original Athlon there were many people who couldn't understand the 200 MHz front side bus. Your memory and other components aren't running at 200 MHz - there is a divider that brings things down to normal specs for the other components. In all reality this doubling of the FSB is done in such a way that most BIOS screens give you the option of changing the system FSB in a way that looks very familiar. On the Azza board I used the default was 100 and there were several increments upto 132 MHz. The question immediately becomes why bother with such a high FSB? The answer boils down to the fact that the FSB is one of the biggest bottlenecks in overall system performance. When we raise the FSB on a Pentium III to 133 from the stock 100 MHz we see benefits in a lot of places - the most important being memory and CPU performance. AMD's engineers saw that having a 200 MHz speed within their CPU would mean that there would be higher performance potential moving data from various areas within the processor and the Level 1 and Level 2 cache. One nice feature in all this is that AMD has promised a 266 Mhz FSB in the future for their processors. You guessed it right - 133 MHz FSB for our components is in the near future from AMD.

The Celeron uses a 66 MHz bus. That is one of its most crippling problems that Celeron users find. Of course this means that the most natural thing to do is to overclock the CPU by changing the FSB to 100. Considering that a stock Duron ships at 100 MHz system FSB that is a hurdle that the Celeron has a hard time overcoming. It goes without saying that having your memory running at 100 MHz FSB and your CPU at 200 FSB is much better than the 66 MHz the Celeron uses.

Level 1 and Level 2 Cache

Cache is memory that is incorporated into a processor to allow the temoporary storage of data. While your CPU is working it will first store memory in the Level 1 cache, then the Level 2 cache, and finally the memory that is mounted on the motherboard. This is why increasing the amount of memory you have on your system can be such a big boost to performance. If both caches are filled, and there isn't enough system memory, the data will be temporarily written to your harddrive. That is a very slow way to get data back to the CPU. The importance here is that the amount of cache, and its layout, can have a big effect on performance.

The Duron comes with 128K of Level 1 cache while the Celeron only has 32K. Having such a large cache allows a large amount of temporary data to be stored in the Level 1 cache which has the fastest access back to the CPU. There isn't a whole lot to be said for the Celeron's 32K.

The Level 2 cache situation is pretty interesting. The Duron only comes with 64K while the Celeron features 128K. Why so little for the Duron? With its very large Level 1 cache it doesn't rely so heavily on the Level 2 cache. The Duron 800 is designed with the capacity to someday be built with 128K of Level 2 cache. With the Celeron running on a 66 MHz bus right now I don't think there is a huge movement at AMD to implement this right now but I'm sure it will happen about the same time that the Celeron moves to a 100 MHz bus. Add them up and the Duron has a total of 192K of cache while the Celeron has 160K. That looks pretty good for the Celeron except when you consider that most of the Duron's cache is Level 1.

So we know that we are comparing two different design philosophies here. Let's get to the benchmarking!


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