AMD's move towards their next generation platform change has so far trudged along secretly, which is uncharacteristic of the bold and often outspoken microprocessor giant. Of course, one cannot still consider it a secret since AMD's plans for a new socket design has been leaked months before. Just like when AMD moved from the single channel DDR Socket 754 to the dual channel DDR Socket 939, Socket AM2 will be AMD's next generation platform to finally embrace DDR2 memory technology. Ever since information about Socket AM2 has been released onto the masses, there has been much speculation on its performance due to DDR2 latency timings in conjunction with the Athlon 64's integrated memory design as well as AMD's silicon problems. While these performance issues cannot really be commented upon until NDAs have been lifted after the launch of the Socket AM2 processors, we can confirm at this stage that AMD will officially be supporting memory speeds up to DDR2-800.
By the time Socket AM2 processors are launched in June, it is expected that DDR2-800 memory will not only be in good supply, but will come in at an attractive price, working well for AMD. Remember, Intel is also set to launch official support for DDR2-800 around the same time, so by the second half of this year, you can expect a high demand for DDR2. Other enhancements that are supposed to make its way into the AM2 CPUs include AMD's Pacifica virtualization technology, lower TDP versions and a brand new cooler retention mechanism.
If you still have a little question nagging at the back of your head in regards to compatibility, we'll answer it for you. No. The Socket AM2 is a new 940-pin socket design that is incompatible with all current AMD CPUs including the 940-pin Opterons. Because of memory controller differences, this is more or less to ensure users do not install the wrong CPUs into a Socket AM2 motherboard.
MSI is one of the first manufacturers to have released information about their upcoming AM2 motherboards and only very recently unveiled their K9N family. We at www.hardwarezone.com® have gotten our hands on a sample of the high-end MSI K9N SLI Platinum and although we are unable to provide performance benchmark results due to this little thing called an NDA, we can show you what to expect from the next generation Socket AM2 motherboard.
The K9N SLI Platinum is currently the highest end Socket AM2 motherboard that has been announced from MSI . It is based on the brand new nForce 570 SLI chipset, with dual PCIe x8 SLI support and boasts expanded MCP features. This includes a full array of six SATA 3.0Gbps connectors and dual Gigbit LAN. NVIDIA has also finally done away with AC'97 audio and while its still no 'SoundStorm 2', the nForce 570 SLI will support Azalia HD Audio. The K9N series is also supposed to come with the new version of MSI's CoreCell technology as well, dubbed Dual CoreCell, but less talk and more of the board.
The technical specifications below are currently based on the publicly available information from MSI and NVIDIA, but bear in mind that specifications may still change before the official launch dates.