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Unlocking The Athlon XP Processor - Page 1 of 3


For a number of years, AMD processors have been the weapon of choice for those looking to overclock their systems. Unlike their Intel counterparts, the AMD processors allowed the user to change the multiplier as well as the Front Side Bus. As a result, an enormous range of overclocked combinations was available. In doing so, the user could effectively find the sweet spot of their system where the optimum combination of multiplier and Front Side Bus (FSB) speed were found.

AMD soon realized that they would have a hard time justifying the increased cost of their flagship processors if users could purchase slower processors and overclock them to the same speeds. Therefore, they began to take measures to stop the overclocker in his tracks. Here, the company began "cutting" the L1 bridges, which are responsible for setting the clock multiplier. The broken connection of these bridges essentially locked the multiplier at one fixed value and left only the FSB speed for adjustment.

Athlon XP

AGOIA XP1600+ with Green PCB

The efforts made by AMD proved to be no match for the hardened resolve of the overclocking enthusiast. Almost immediately after the first wave of locked CPU’s hit the market, individuals were already devising methods of unlocking the multiplier adjustments. The most popular method here proved to be the "pencil trick".

Here, a graphite pencil would be used to draw a line between the two opposing contacts of the L1 bridges. This conductive line acted as a trace, which allowed current to pass from one contact to the other and presented the full range of multipliers for selection.

Learning of this method, engineers and designers at AMD set to work devising a new method to stop rampant overclocking. Here, the design called for pits to be placed between the two contacts which would re-direct the voltage should a conductive trace be painted over it. As a result, methods such as the pencil trick became obsolete and useless overnight. Die-hard overclockers would have to devise yet another creative solution to this problem.

Laser-Cut Bridges and Pits


Following the news regarding the pitting of the new processors, a new unlocking method began spreading around the Internet. By filling the pits of the processor with some non-conductive material, the devious countermeasure was overcome and the bridges could once more be connection using some conductive material. A number of variations of this method have become known, although one method in particular is becoming the method of choice for most overclockers.

Evidently, a Windshield De-Fogger Repair kit contains the perfect tools for connecting the L1 bridges. The only additional materials the user needs is some non-conductive material to fill the pits within the processor. These materials range from whiteout to super-glue, as well as a number of other random choices such as wax crayons.

Next Page - Procedure

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Last Updated on October 8, 2002

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