To say that AMD has been uncharacteristically quiet lately would be an understatement of epic proportions. The company that had been so vocal about their K8 architecture in the past will hardly say anything at all about future products, extending even to its forthcoming AM2 platform. In just two months AMD is scheduled to officially unveil its first DDR2 platform (Socket-AM2), but we've heard virtually nothing about performance expectations.

Back in January we sought to discover for ourselves what AMD's Socket-AM2 platform would have in store for end users. You'll remember that when Intel made the shift to DDR2 it basically yielded no tangible performance improvement, and we were all quite afraid that the same would be true of AM2. When we finally tested the AM2 samples that were available at the time, performance was absolutely dismal. Not only could AMD's AM2 not outperform currently shipping Socket-939 platforms, but due to serious issues with the chip's memory controller performance was significantly lower.

Given that AMD was supposed to launch in June at Computex, the fact that AM2 was performing so poorly just five months before launch was cause for worry. Despite our worries, we elected not to publish benchmark results and to give AMD more time to fix the problems. We're not interested in creating mass panic by testing a product that's clearly premature.

In February we tried once more, this time with a new spin of the AM2 silicon, but performance continued to be lower than Socket-939. Luckily for AMD, the performance had improved significantly, so it was slower than Socket-939 but not as much as before.

The next revision of the AM2 silicon we received sometime in March, and this one finally added support for DDR2-800, which is what AM2 will launch with supposedly at Computex. With the launch only three months out, we expected performance to be at final shipping levels, and we were left disappointed once more. Even with DDR2-800 at the best timings we could manage back then, Socket-AM2 was unable to outperform Socket-939 at DDR-400.

That brings us to today; we're now in the month of April, with less than two months before AMD's official unveiling of its Socket-AM2 platform at Computex in June, and yes we have a brand new spin of AM2 silicon here to test. We should note that it's not all AMD that's been holding AM2 performance behind. The motherboard makers have of course gone through their fair share of board revisions, not to mention the various chipset revisions that have changed performance as well. Regardless, according to internal AMD documents, AM2 CPUs are going to start being sold to distributors starting next month, leaving very little time for significant changes to the CPU to impact performance. We feel that now is as good of a time to preview AM2 performance and put things into perspective as we're likely to get before the official launch.

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  • tony215 - Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - link

    Who in their right mind is going to fork-out hard earned cash for an AM2 mobo, CPU, & DDR2 if there's little to no gain in performance over AMD Socket 939. This review makes depressing reading for AMD fans looking to upgrade, it's obvious that AM2 has little to offer this year, I expect to see many jumping ship when Conroe is released. Reply
  • clairvoyant129 - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    Don't count on many people jumping ships. AMD has a pretty good enthusist fanbase (fanboys mostly). I know Im going to drop my FX-55 for the 2.67GHz Conroe but don't expect many to switch sides... besides, most of these fanboys are probably going to cook up some conspiracy theories to degrade Conroe. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    I might jump ship to AM2 from my Duron 600MHz processor. For me, a dual channel architecture coupled with cheap Sempron processor and onboard video would make a lot of sense - especially a low power Sempron, if such beasts could be found.
    I am waiting for the AM2 platform (processors, chipsets, mainboards)
    Reply
  • tony215 - Thursday, April 13, 2006 - link

    Calin, by jumping ship I meant switching from AMD to Intel. Let's see what June brings, if this review is anything to go by I don't expect a massive leap in performance from the AM2 platform over current socket 939, People with money in their pockets now aren't interested in what AM2 /DDR2 may develop into in the year 2007. If Conroe lives up to the hype of offering more bang for less bucks ... I'll make the switch, screw brand loyalty. Reply
  • tekkstore - Monday, April 17, 2006 - link

    http://www.tekkstore.com">tekkstore.com Reply
  • clairvoyant129 - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    My god, that website has to be the most biased **** I've ever seen. Explain Victor Wong's resoluts on SuperPI 1M (21secs) with a $300 processor with an unsupported motherboard and BIOS. I've never seen such fanboyism in my life. You can't believe anything from that website. Reply
  • Anemone - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    AM2 may not hold up against Conroe, but until you can buy them in a store, they are vaporware. Intel is late a LOT, so I'm not buying this "don't worry it'll be soon" stuff. Merom prediction: Jan 07. Conroe prediction Oct 06. That's a long, long time for AMD to sell superb chips to a lot of folks.

    $.02
    Reply
  • mkruer - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    Everyone is bitching how the Conroe is going to kick AM2 @$$ but the facts of the Conroe are starting to leak out. http://sharikou.blogspot.com/">http://sharikou.blogspot.com/ Does this illegitimate Conroe? No, but it does clarify why Conroe preformed so well in the benchmarked apps. and that Conroe is still more memory constrained then the AM2. The AM2 might just get 4MB of Cache per Core thanks to Z-RAM or at least the K8L server editions sure will. Will the real Conroe to step forward? Reply
  • Shintai - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    I love how that site only compared Conroes worst results, also the Conroe used crappy memory timings, DDR2-533, preproduction boards, ES sample CPU. Oh, and did we forget its a 300$ CPU vs a 1200$ AMD CPU? Ye we might have forgotten than...didn´t we. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - link

    Most important it's NON-EXISTENT vs. $1200 CPU.

    Seems many people forget about it.
    Reply

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