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AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and FX-62

By Vijay Anand - 23 May 2006

AMD takes on DDR2 with AM2

AMD takes on DDR2 with AM2

Originally planned for launch during the upcoming Computex 2006 on the 6th of June, Intel's earlier than expected announcements of their next generation Core 2 Duo processors slated for the same period have certainly 'helped' AMD shuffle many launch dates pertaining to their processors and processor technologies in this busy month. Today, AMD's Socket AM2 processor platform for the desktop goes official and it is certainly no paper launch as you can tell by the many AM2 motherboard previews we've been churning out in recent times.

Just for the record, we'll make a quick recap on what the Socket AM2 infrastructure is about. Where once upon a time the memory controller(s) was only found in a motherboard's Northbridge chipset, AMD's Athlon 64 and Sempron series based on their K8 processor architecture made a bold move to integrate that within the processor die itself. This fusion has more or less eliminated the need to have a traditional Northbridge chip unless it had other functions like supplying more PCI Express lanes for advanced motherboard models such as those supporting SLI and CrossFire. Simplifying motherboard design was only a byproduct of this move, but the core reason was to provide the processor direct access to the memory, thereby greatly reducing latencies and increasing performance substantially. Part of their Direct Connect architecture, this move had greatly benefited AMD and has been a hallmark trait of their entire processor series from the mobile segment to the server space.

However, integrating the memory controller did pose them an issue of evolution when memory speeds and technologies change, thereby requiring their engineers to tweak and update the processors whenever the need arises. We've all seen this evolution take place via the initial launch of the Athlon 64 platform when Socket-754 debuted and then later Socket-939 to support dual-channel memory. If you recall, AMD actually took a while to workaround their Socket-940 infrastructure of the Opteron series to realize the Socket-939 for the performance desktop market. This is the most inevitable issue of the K8 architecture integrating the memory controller with the CPU - added complexity. Additionally, the original K8 memory controller was designed to support DDR memory. While AMD would argue that they don't require DDR2 memory to deliver added performance, the reality was that the memory manufacturers and Intel's entire lineup had long moved to focus on DDR2 memory technology that can offer a greater memory bandwidth (at some latency penalty of course). Memory prices between DDR and DDR2 have become non-existent and have actually worked against DDR in recent times. Additionally, DDR2 memory quickly evolved to embrace the 1GHz mark and from what we've seen in earlier trade shows, more can be expected. Foreseeing these issues, AMD had of course made known to the industry that they too would be shifting to adopt DDR2 memory technology and today, on the 23rd of May, that has come to pass.

AMD AM2 Processor Lineup @ Launch
Processor Family Processor Models
AMD Athlon 64 FX FX-62
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+, 4800+, 4600+, 4400+, 4200+, 4000+, and 3800+
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 3500+, 3200+
AMD Sempron 3600+, 3500+, 3400+, 3200+, 3000+, and 2800+

With a new Socket AM2 infrastructure to support DDR2 memory technology, AMD is offering the entire gamut of processors from entry-level to the high-end on this new socket and thus unifying what was once split among different motherboard and socket variety. This is definitely a welcomed move for all levels of the industry. The AM2 processors have been validated officially to support DDR2-800 on AMD's latest Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2 series. Now that eclipses Intel's current DDR2-667 official support and matches that of the upcoming Core 2 Duo processors later this year. Standard Athlon 64 and Semprons however, would support up to DDR2-667 and is still plenty speedy enough. The good news though, all AM2 processors will have a dual-channel memory controller and this will ensure great performance and responsiveness from all processor ranks (and would probably make it that much more difficult for Intel to compete on the lower end scale). For those of you who feared that AM2 would be priced a lot more than currently available processors, AMD has put that rumor to rest with this official Processor-In-Box pricing:-

AMD AM2 Dual-Core CPU Details and Price
AM2 Processor Frequency L2 Cache Max TDP Price
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 2.8GHz 1MB x 2 125W US$1,031
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz 512KB x 2 89W US$696
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz 1MB x 2 89W US$645
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.4GHz 512KB x 2 89W US$558
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.2GHz 1MB x 2 89W US$470
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz 512KB x 2 89W US$365
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ 2.0GHz 1MB x 2 89W US$328
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0GHz 512KB x 2 89W US$303

The prices reflected here are actually no more than the existing processor lineup, so that is good news as well. With the launch of AM2, we've been lucky to get our hands on AMD's latest top models for thorough testing, namely the Athlon 64 FX-62 and the Athlon 64 X2 5000+. That's also a reason why we've reflected dual-core processor pricings only in the table to keep it inline with the scope of this article. In terms of detailed processor specifications, not a whole lot has changed since the Toledo days, but with AM2 processors, Virtualization technology on hardware has been included in the spec. Here's how the top AM2 processors from AMD stack up with their previous best and Intel's:-

High-End Dual-Core CPUs Compared
Processor Name AMD Athlon 64 FX AMD Athlon 64 X2 AMD Athlon 64 FX AMD Athlon 64 X2 Pentium Extreme Edition Pentium D
Processor Model FX-62 5000+ FX-60 4800+ 965 960
Processor Frequency 2.8GHz 2.6GHz 2.6GHz 2.4GHz 3.73GHz 3.6GHz
No. of Cores 2 2 2 2 2 2
Hyper-Threading Technology - - - - Yes No
No. of Logical Processors 2 2 2 2 4 2
Front Side Bus (MHz) - - - - 1066 800
HyperTransport Bus 1GHz (2000MT/s) 1GHz (2000MT/s) 1GHz (2000MT/s) 1GHz (2000MT/s) - -
L1 Cache (data + instruction) (64KB + 64KB) x 2 (64KB + 64KB) x 2 (64KB + 64KB) x 2 (64KB + 64KB) x 2 (16KB + 12KB) x 2 (16KB + 12KB) x 2
L2 Cache 1MB x 2 512KB x 2 1MB x 2 1MB x 2 2MB x 2 2MB x 2
Integrated Memory Controller Dual Channel (up to DDR2-800) Dual Channel (up to DDR2-800) Dual Channel (up to DDR-400) Dual Channel (up to DDR-400) External Dual Channel ( up to DDR2-667) External Dual Channel ( up to DDR2-667)
VID (V) 1.35 - 1.40 1.35 1.35 1.35 1.20 -1.3375 1.20 -1.3375
Icc (max) (A) 90.4 66.2 80 80 125 125
TDP (W) 125 89 110 110 130 130
Execute Disable Bit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Intel EM64T / AMD64 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) / AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Virtualization Technology Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
Packaging AM2 AM2 Socket-939 Socket-939 LGA775 LGA775
Process Technology 90nm SOI 90nm SOI 90nm SOI 90nm SOI 65nm 65nm
Processor Codename Windsor Windsor Toledo Toledo Presler Presler
Die Size 230mm² 183mm² 199mm² 199mm² 162mm² 162mm²
No. of Transistors 227.4 million 153.8 million 233.2 million 233.2 million 376 million 376 million