It's taken AMD almost the entire life-span of the Athlon 64, but Intel is finally on the run. Pick whatever measure of success you'd like, whether it is performance benchmarks, the Dell announcement, or being publicly accepted as a threat - AMD has done it. It's because of AMD's extremely successful uphill battle against Intel these past few years that we've had such high expectations from the company. So when Intel first started talking about its new Core architecture, we turned to AMD for a response that it surely must have had in the works for years, but as you all know we came up empty handed.

Only recently has AMD begun talking about what's coming next, and it will divulge even more information in the following weeks. The problem is that the architectural revisions to K8 that AMD is finally talking about now are still things we will see in the 2007 - 2008 time frame, while Intel's Core architecture is still on schedule to be a reality for 2006. What AMD does have planned to keep itself afloat during 2006 and until the new K8L core debuts is a brand new platform: Socket-AM2.

The long awaited Socket-AM2 platform marks the beginning of AMD's transition to DDR2 memory. If you'll remember, Intel made this transition about two years ago with the introduction of its 925X and 915 series of chipsets. The move to DDR2 proved to yield very little in the way of performance, but it was necessary as Intel was able to drive enough quantity of DDR2 in order to make the cost reasonable today. With DDR2 prices low enough, and availability high enough, AMD was poised to take advantage of Intel's work in establishing DDR2 as a desktop memory standard and support it on a new platform.

In AMD's uncharacteristic silence over the past several months, performance expectations for DDR2 on Socket-AM2 remained completely unset. A little over a month ago we previewed the Socket-AM2 platform and concluded that even when paired with DDR2-800, you shouldn't expect a performance increase from AM2. While AMD didn't publicly confirm or refute our benchmarks, all of its partners were in agreement with the results we had seen. Today, with final AM2 hardware in our hands, we're able to see exactly how far the platform has come in the month since we last looked at it.

AM2 in Detail
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  • mino - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    Well, IMHO the point is AMD has used exclusive 3-level cache structure in the past so they have som experience with thi arrangement. Reply
  • Questar - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    No flame here, look it up for yourself.

    Z-RAM has high capacitive loading, which results in slow speed.

    At 4MB it'll run half the speed of SRAM.
    Reply
  • Questar - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Large amounts of Z-RAM are pig slow. Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Seriously, the one area an Athlon X2 would be bandwidth starved and does it get tested in the preview? NO
    In the review? NO

    How long ago did we know that the K8 was not bandwidth limited in single application usage? YEARS


    So yeah, DDR2 din't increase the 3dMark, big surprise
    Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I think 3dMark06 is multithreaded now so all available cores and bandwidth should be used within the limits of the program. I could be wrong about this however. Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    3Dmark06 is almost completely GPU limited. The 3Dmark CPU score did increase a bit, but I really was referring to graphics benchmarks in general. Reply
  • cscpianoman - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I was just noticing the performance differences between the FX and the EE. In some cases the FX tromps the EE by "gasp" 30%! In other cases the EE makes it's mark. This is part of the reason I am skeptic on Conroe. Yeah it's good. But I always take what Intel, or AMD for that matter, with a grain of salt. Just today we saw the 30% advantage translate down to about 15%. This seems just like any other generation change where 15% is to be expected. The current hype for the Conroe is a product of Intel's excellent marketing dept. Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Until K8L (which will have microarchitectural improvements), there are a few things that could allow AMD to look good against Core 2.

    1) Price drops so that comparable K8 and Core 2 processors are the same price giving the same performance/$ ratio (this metric is important for the budget constrained)

    2) Nov. '06 release of 65 nm AM2 processors so that K8 and Core 2 processors will have the same performance/watt ratio (65 nm could give K8 a 20% drop in power and with Core 2 being 20% faster, they will have the same performance/watt ratio which is popular now). Also, everytime AMD transitions to a new die process they add some minor bug fixes and minor memory/microarchitectural enhancements which could also boost performance by a few percent.

    3) Continual improvements to DDR2 latency might yield a 2-2-2 DDR2 800 memory module which will probably benefit K8 more (maybe ~5% improvement) than Core 2 but this is a wild guess here and I don't know if it is even possible. However, DDR400 latency started around 4-4-4 and dropped to 2-2-2 so it could happen.

    With the same performance/price and performance/watt as Core 2, K8 could stay competitive and OEMS and users decide on which company (if not both) they would like to do business with. This is all speculation and of course everyone is more than welcome to rip my reasoning to death.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I seriously doubt we will ever see DDR2-800 running at 2-2-2 timings. (Feel free to quote me on this in the future and make fun of me if I'm proven wrong. :-)) Just think how long we had DDR memory around, and no one ever managed to create 1-1-1 DDR-400 memory. I do think we will see 3-3-3 DDR2-800, and possibly even higher bandwidth with those timings. In fact, we almost have that already judging from my experiences so far with socket AM2. (I can post and run benchmarks, but I wouldn't call the system 100% stable.) Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    LOL! I will! Reply

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