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nForce 590 SLI ATI RD580

Market share is the name of the game in the Computing industry and AMD has been slowly chipping away at Intel market share over the past few years, with the release of faster Desktop processor cores with significantly better performance per watt, clock cycle and dollar. AMD performance advantage also has allowed the company to further expand market share in the Enterprise Server arena, as was recently ear marked by Dell announcement of an Opteron based product line during their recent earnings call. Not to mention Sun successes in the same market space with their Opteron based Workstations and Servers. AMD has seemingly pulled off the impossible and has had Intel on the run for years now. It no secret that Intel has been throwing clock cycles and memory bandwidth at an aging and intrinsically limited core CPU architecture.

In an effort to bolster system performance, Intel made the move to higher bandwidth DDR2 memory years ago but it wasn enough to catch the Athlon 64 architecture. AMD didn have the luxury (nor the need really) of supporting DDR2 memory, however. The K8 integrated memory controller architecture, while offering significantly better latency characteristics, would have to be completely overhauled, which meant a significant core rip up, if the Athlon 64 were to be able to interface to DDR2 memory. It would take more justification of the business case to invest in “surgically removing” (as AMD likes to call it) the A64 DDR memory controller and retro fitting it with a DDR2 controller. This change would also require a socket and CPU pin out change as well, so backwards compatibility for existing motherboards was not option.

That “business case” seems to be on the horizon today and rolling towards AMD fast, with the imminent release of Intel Core Duo offering for the Desktop, based on their CPU core architecture code named “Conroe”. AM2 arrival is timely for AMD we feel, since it affords the company an opportunity to prime the channel with new technology and have it take hold with their partners before the Conroe wave hits. For today though, it all AMD again, with the debut of their socket AM2 line of Athlon 64 processors. We take you through the ins and outs of two of the highest end SKUs currently in the AM2 Desktop line up, the Athlon 64 FX 62 and Athlon 64 X2 5000+.

In short, there are obvious physical changes to the Athlon 64, in terms of its new pin out and socket, as well as changes under the hood, like its new DDR2 memory controller, hardware level support for Virtualization and power consumption optimizations. In addition, AMD has shifted gears a bit for its high end X2 series processor, opting to brand higher clock speeds but smaller cache sizes (512KB per core, versus 1MB per core in the 4800+) an Athlon 64 5000+ for the AM2 platform a bit of a reach perhaps for AMD and potentially confusing if nothing else. Beyond its updated memory interface though, the Athlon 64 remains largely unchanged.

Perhaps what might be considered as a more significant change is the 4 bolt heatsink tray that provides more durable and stable heatsink retention. Unfortunately, those with screw mount heatsinks like those swank Zalman CNPS9500 coolers will have to wait for new retention clips to be designed for the new 4 hole mounting configuration.

MODEL NUMBERS FOR AM2:

Most of the model numbers that you might be familiar with, were brought over from Socket 939 with their same cache and frequency specifications, though there are a few exceptions. For example, the Athlon 64 FX 60 is a Socket 939 option only, and Socket AM2 now has an X2 Louboutin Outlet 4000+ which is not available in a socket 939 variant as a dual core CPU.

LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION:

Athlon 64 X2 processors now have a new, lower maximum power specification of 89 watts (down from 110) for socket AM2. Standard single core Athlon 64 processors also have a lower max power specification 62 watts (down from 89). Semprons also have a 62 watt maximum specification. Also, as previously announced, AMD is offering a line of Energy Efficient processors available in Socket AM2 for the desktop that have maximum wattage specifications of 65 watts and 35 watts. These CPUs will retail for a slight premium. AMD “Energy Efficient Processors” deliver the same performance with the same core frequency and cache sizes but with lower heat dissipation and power consumption. AMD specified maximum power represents consumption under full load at the most extreme conditions.

Energy Efficient models available at Louboutin Outlet 65 Watts max power:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 processors: 4800+, 4600+, 4400+, 4200+, 4000+, and 3800+

Energy Efficient models available at 35 Watts max power:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor: 3800+

AMD Athlon 64 processor: 3500+

AMD Sempron processors: 3400+, 3200+, and 3000+

NOTE: The third digit of a desktop processor part number details the maximum power consumption of that model.

“A” denotes “normal” power

“O” denotes a 65 watt energy efficient processor

“D” denotes a 35 watt energy efficient, small form factor processor

AMD New DDR2 Memory Controller And A Change In Timing Ratios:

The AM2 new DDR2 memory controller no longer supports half multiples. For example an Athlon 64 FX 62, clocked at 2800MHz uses a 200MHz base frequency and a 14X core multiplier, along with a X7 divisor (2800/7), to drive 400MHz for Memory Interface speed of DDR2 800. Similarly, for the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2600MHz clock, the processor must divide by a whole number to get close to, but not go over 400MHz, which translates to 2600/7 or 371MHz, which is then clock doubled for DDR2 and yields a 742MHz memory speed, even though a system BIOS may be set for “DDR2 800″ speeds. This support will offer significant performance benefits versus traditional emulation only methods, since it will allow for a much tighter coupling of processor resources to each instance of OS running on a system.

The reason running multiple OSes on a PC, with the secondary or tertiary OS running in full emulation mode, is so slow is because the hardware for the virtual OS is emulated in software. Off loading the management of this function to a dedicated hardware resource, should by all rights offer large gains in performance. AMD Virtualization technology offers an instruction set and dedicated CPU core hardware resources for handling things like I/O calls and interrupts.

This could be a welcome addition for Linux users interested in stronger virtual Windows performance for legacy Windows applications. In addition it goes almost without saying that this eventually could well be a required checklist feature because Intel processors have had this feature for quite sometime. The age of the dual core CPU and Intel HyperThreading technology have paved the way for more powerful virtualization functionality and it has great promise for the future, especially in Enterprise IT and the Professional Workstation markets.

These speeds and thermal readings were taken with a stock AM Louboutin Outlet D cooler installed at ambient room temp on an open air test bench. It was interesting to see how cool the new cores stayed under load, although heavily overclocked. We realized a 10% (300MHz) clock speed boost with the FX 62 and 13% (400MHz) increase for th Louboutin Outlet e 5000+. Both CPUs ran relatively stable as well but we suggest a more robust cooler for this kind of overclocking effort, versus the stock and only adequate HSF we were working with from AMD.

Breaking 10,000MB/Sec in SANDRA Memory Test:

While the cores performed as expected with these higher clock speeds, perhaps what more impressive is the fact that we recorded easily the fastest memory throughput benchmark number we ever taken in the lab. With this kind of memory speed and CAS4 timings, the available system memory bandwidth is amazing. We achieved these speeds using a 12X multiplier on the CPU and a 260MHz HT link clock, along with a .10V voltage boost on the CPU core and memory modules.