Advanced Micro Devices' latest release in its salvo of
64-bit chips is the Socket AM2 Athlon64 dual-core processor, a new 940-pin CPU
whose integrated memory controller now thrives off low latency DDR-2
RAM. AMD's socket M2, err... socket
have been one of the most hotly anticipated technology releases in recent
memory, largely because of the success the 939-pin Athlon64 CPU enjoyed in the
face of weak opposition from Intel's Pentium lineup. The AM2 CPU brings
DDR-2 memory into the vocabulary of AMD users for the first time ever,
and also marks the introduction of AMD Virtualization (think
VMWare). Operating system virtualization is set to be the next best
thing since sliced bread, but for the moment it is just a tick on the
long list of cutting edge processor must have's. All socket AM2 processors will include the virtualization feature.
Going into this release, the big question on everyone's
mind is what impact will DDR-2 RAM have on the Athlon64 architecture, and
in particular its integrated memory controller? Will DDR-2 memory yield nothing
more than a marginal performance gain, a gigantic boost, or simply quench a dual
core Athlon64's numerical thirst for memory bandwidth? I'm sure you've been
debating this question just as much as we have, but you can rest assured that
with some low latency Corsair PC8500 DDR-2 installed in the test system, it's going to be a wild ride!
In this review PCSTATS will introduce you to two socket
AM2 processors; the AMD Athlon64 FX-62 and Athlon64 X2-5000+. Both models are
fast dual core CPUs that support DDR-2 667/800 MHz RAM, include hardware virtualization
support in-chip, and install into a new 940-pin socket called 'AM2'
that utilizes a distinctive four-bolt heatsink retention frame. The enthusiast grade
AMD Athlon64 FX-62 clocks in at 2.8GHz, the workstation class Athlon64 X2-5000+ with a speed of 2.6GHz.
||AMD Athlon64 X2 5000+ socket AM2 Processor
Clock: 2.60 GHz (Dual Core)
L1: 124KB (Per
L2: 512KB (Per Core)
Core: 90nm SOI
Cost: $696 USD
||AMD Athlon64 FX-62 socket AM2 Processor
Clock: 2.80 GHz (Dual Core)
L1: 124KB (Per
L2: 1024KB (Per Core)
Core: 90nm SOI
Cost: $1031 USD
The Athlon64 X2 5000+ is clocked a healthy 200 MHz
faster than where the socket 939 Athlon64 X2 4800+ left off, but each of its
cores is peppered with 128KB L1 and 512KB L2 cache. The FX-62 replaces the
socket 939 FX-60 completely, and takes stage as AMD's flagship CPU with 128KB L1
and 1024KB L2 cache. All processors bearing the AMD Athlon64 name support both
32-bit and 64-bit applications, and operating systems like WindowsXP x64 Edition.
To use either of these new beauties you'll need to overhaul your computer system completely by installing a 940-pin socket AM2 motherboard (not compatible with 940-pin AMD Opteron motherboards), and low latency DDR-2 RAM. AM2 supporting chipsets are being released by SIS, VIA and nVidia at the time of this writing.
However, judging by what PCSTATS has seen first hand from the nVidia nForce 590 SLI chipset, this core logic is set to take center stage as far as AMD's socket AM2 is concerned. If not for performance reasons, the nForce 500 series will probably succeed for the sheer volume of useful technologies it introduces to desktop computers.
Other component upgrades may also be necessary, seeing
as the socket AM2 heatsink retention frame has also evolved significant from the
two-post socket 939 retention frame so many high end copper K8 heatsinks were
built for. As of this writing, the Zalman CNPS9500 AM2 is the first heatsink to hit the
market. The new AM2 retention frame will be compatible with only one type of existing K8 heatsink, but we'll get into this a little later.
X2 5000+ and Athlon64 FX-62 are available as of this moment and have a retail
price of $1147 CDN ($1031 US, £547 GBP) and $773 CDN ($696 US, £396 GBP) respectively.
The full AMD socket AM2 processor lineup officially launches today, and will
include a bevy of Athlon64 and Sempron models as well.