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AMD Duron: more for much less


In the world of the computer science for PCs, from time to time there appears a device that he emphasizes for some special characteristic, which attracts attention and which almost immediately begins going out in all the conversations of the users.

... And normally there is no topic more inclined to the discussion and even to the fanaticism that that of the microprocessors. Many persons are pro-AMD or pro-Intel (is there anybody pro-Cyrix??) simply for beginning. Since there is nothing worse than the fanaticism, of the class that is, and the only way of treating it is the information, there we go to try to give a fistful of objective information on a new mike about which one has spoken (and one will speak) very much: the AMD Duron.


What is a Duron?

Photo of an AMD Duron 700

A rapid answer would be: a mike AMD class Athlon, Socket A, with 64 KB of cache memory L2. But to most of the normal people this phrase him will sound a little to Chinese, so we are going to try to explain the topic with clarity (certainly: the fans of the hardware are we "the normal people"?).

First of all, it is a microprocessor (the brain of the PC) made by AMD, a company that at present eats an important part of the market, to the detriment of the giant Intel, thanks to proper and innovative designs; it is already not the company of clonal mikes that could be in the past... which does not mean that it is not another thing any more than a company, which principal target is to gain money, as it is logical; that goes for "pro-AMD for beginning".

That thing about "class Athlon" is a way of indicating that his design is based on that of the successful Athlon, with very small differences; in fact, practically it can be said that there are the same mike, but with his 64 KB of secondary cache memory or "L2" integrated (at the same speed as the mike). This characteristic shares it with Athlon Thunderbird, which differs only for having 256 KB of cache memory L2.

And as for that thing about Socket A, is only the new physical format of connection of the microprocessors AMD (the Slot A has already almost disappeared), a flat socket similar to that of the "prehistoric" Pentium but with neither more nor less than 462 pines or connection sideburns.


Why is the Duron interesting?

To a direct question, a more direct answer still: because it is cheap. To today, the price of the 650 MHz model is I half-close 17.000 ptas (approximately 90 $, without VAT), while an Athlon Thunderbird or an Intel Pentium III cost between 50 % and more 100 %.

Comparative of microprocessors prices - October, 2000

But obviously, the price it is not quite, it nor should be the first priority at the time of buying a PC (although the circumstances usually force to certain commitments, of course). Since we will see next, the second advantage of the Duron is that it offers an excellent yield, enough over what might indicate his price.

On the other hand, the Duron has the advantage of being very tolerant with the overclocking, and of warming up less enough than Athlon Thunderbird (that sometimes almost it looks like a toaster). It is not that the heat is an insuperable problem, the mikes are designed thinking about it and it is enough to put a good fan (eye, never one of 700 ptas), but it is always better not to have to remove it.

... Ah, nuances as for the price: the mike is the cheapest, but the basic badges Socket A it are not so much. In any case, they are not much more expensive than the quality badges for mikes Intel, and a good motherboard is an investment that is always worth it, so he thinks the buy and does not spare effort in this aspect.


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