AMD AM2: More than just a Memory Change

by Wesley Fink on 2/6/2006 1:30 AM EST
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  • eddiedu - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    I´m not shure! Anyone has idea when it´s going to be released?
    Every news that a read says that the release date is going to later, the first time was supposed to release q2 and now july.

    What do you think?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • mesyn191 - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    All rumours...

    Wait for offical announcement from AMD.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    I for one did not expect to see quite so many complaining about upgrade issues. AM2 is an evolutionary step - there's nothing forcing you to ditch your current systems. If you want them to stick with an aging platform for another few years so you have a "better" upgrade path, that's great. But the sooner they get AM2 out, the sooner people with slow systems have a new, better option. The change has to happen eventually, and no matter when it does, the complaints will be the same. When your rig is no longer sufficient, and you have to upgrade, AM2 will be there for you. In the meantime, Socket 939 is great, and if you have a single core chip, you can still drop in a dual core any time you feel you need the extra performance.

    The heatsink issue is understandable annoying, but that's a bit overblown too. If you have enough money to immediately dump your motherboard, CPU, and RAM and build a new AM2 setup, I don't think a heatsink is a problem. If you're that dedicated (and somehow still cheap), you can probably modify existing heatsinks to work. For other heatsinks, new adapters should pop up. For watercooling if your block absolutely can't be made to work, you will no doubt soon be able to get a new one. It's worth spending 40 or 50 bucks to be able to reuse your $200+ watercooling system, so you can dump one fast overclocked system for a slightly faster one. ;)

    The biggest issue I have with AMD lately has nothing to do with platform. It's the lack of OEM chips available to advanced end users. When you can get them, the cost difference isn't significant. But I do understand (part of) why they do it. It's less trouble for retailers to sell boxed chips with a guaranteed-to-work heatsink and a better warranty.
    Reply
  • dev0lution - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    The lack of OEM chips is to prevent OEM's from dumping product they got at a discount for cheaper because it was supposed to go in a complete system. OEM chips that THEY were supposed to warranty end up with end-users who tend to get a bit annoyed when that OEM chip needs to be RMA'd and AMD won't take it back.

    And for those who're counting, Intel's jumped from 478 to 775 and to add to it, they threw in a chipset change that wasn't backwards compatible when dual core dropped. So you potentially could have had to upgrade your chip, board and memory then have to do a chip plus board upgrade to move from 478 to Intel dual core, all in the same timeframe you could have gone from the initial 939 release to an X2 today.

    And I agree, if you're going to spend the $ for a new chip, mobo and DDR2, what's another few bucks for a new bracket for your HSF?
    Reply
  • SynthDude2001 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    After buying a relatively low priced dual-core Opteron a few months ago, I could not be any less interested in AM2 right now. So, we'd need a new CPU, new motherboard, new RAM, new heatsink...for what performance gains exactly? Until 65nm chips come out, IMO this new platform won't be worth the money for most people - particularly those already on Socket 939 setups. Is DDR1 memory really holding AMD back that much?..... Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    It is not so much abotu DDR1 holding back AMD's product, but so much that DDR2 will be the new standard, just as PC133 was eventually phased out. Albeit, DDR1 to DDR2 should not be so much as a jump as PC133 to DDR1, but it largely more ficically efficient to do so. Intel has been using (slower) DDR2 for some time now, and now that DDR2 have reached speeds where there is no penalty for using it, or perhaps a small to medium increase of performance, AMD wishes to adopt DDR2 so it can help streamline the industry. When both CPU manufacturers use the same type of memory, the memory manufactures can produce cheaper products.

    AMD is natorious *spelling* for making it easy for manufacturers in the industry and this helps with adoption of their product. This is besides the point that DDR2 has lower power requirements than DDR1, which is very important for the mobile sector, it is not feasible for AMD to only adopt DDR2 for its mobile sector and negate its desktop and server platforms, nor is it realistic considering AMD's model of creating products is a Server down platform. All products derivitive of the original "beefiest" chip. This is why the entire platform is getting a change to DDR2, and it is an inevitable change.

    This is not to replace 939 instantiously. AMD wants to bring a whole bunch of new features, and ever so often a platform upgrade is appropriate because some of the new features may require a new chipset or pin array. Think of this as a gradual phase out, over a several year period, rather than instant your 939 system sucks.
    Reply
  • mesyn191 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    If you just bought a dual Opteron system a few months ago there is no need for you to upgrade anything at all, AM2 is for single socket consumer grade systems anyways, why would you even look at it if you're already needing something from the dual socket market?

    Anyways... they can't scale DDR1 anymore and its getting more expensive as DDR2 ramps up in production. DDR2 still has a way to scale before its EOL'd so we should see some significant performance gains before it goes the way of the dodo and DRR3 comes out.

    This new socket, even on 90nm, is worth upgrading for those who are currently still on socket 754 or, if you're like me, have one of the first socket 939 motherboards/CPU's that were on the market as socket AM2 should bring some of the first really cheap (well , relatively cheap...) dual core consumer grade chips from AMD.
    Reply
  • drag - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I'll take whatever they give me as far as heatsinks are concerned.

    Personally I am looking forward to the Pacifica virtualization 'enhancements' to make it easier to play around with software. Currently I use Xen, but the only systems that support it on the current generation x86 systems are Linux and FreeBSD (which is fine). But with Pacifica or Intel's VTs then I can use whatever I want to use. Windows, OS X, ReactOS, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Dragonfly, etc etc etc.

    I don't care about cpu speed or memory speed. I just want the ability to use lots of cheap RAM and multicore/smp would be a plus.

    Reply
  • drfred - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Aren't those BTX heatsink mounting holes on the AM2 bracket? They look strikingly familiar. Reply
  • Avalon - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Not as much info as I had hoped for. I was a bit disappointed when I read that most current A64 heatsinks will not be compatible with AM2 and the new socket, but then a previous user pointed out that Thermalright and the like are usually pretty quick to make socket adapters for new socket changes. Spending $5 for an AM2 s940 adapter for my SI-120 is much better than me having to use whatever stock HSF comes with new AM2 processors or buying a whole new HSF.

    Other than that...I'm mostly interested in seeing what effect DDR2 memory has on AMD's lineup. It might almost be worth an upgrade if it was something around the 10%-15% range, although that's probably wishful thinking.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    If you think buying a whole new mobo and processor is worth it for a 10-15% performance increase, then you must be more desperate for CPU performance than most of us. My X2 4400+ even before it was overclocked was more than powerful enough for anything (unless I wanted to shave a few minutes off video transcoding), there seems little point in buying an AM2 socket processor until they transition to 65nm and crank the speed up a bit. Unless you need the virtualisation technology, or would prefer a "secure" computer thanks to the DRM garbage which will be included in AMD chips from the introduction of AM2.

    This article forgot to mention the two real changes with AM2-- virtualisation technology (not really important for most people), and integrated DRM (the first step to someone else controlling your PC).
    Reply
  • Zebo - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Looks like old HSF will fit to me. The center hooks where CU clips attach on the hold down plates looked like they are in same place in both sockets. All that's changed from my limited no in front of me view is one hold down plate is done with 4 screws to back plate while the other uses two Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Any info on the new chipsets? Maybe the folks at DailyTech could leak some info that Anandtech can't post... :-) Reply
  • rpsgc - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Look http://www.tbreak.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2587...">here :) Reply
  • Orbs - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    What about for ATI? Will the RD580 support AM2? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    The RD580 fully supports AM2. Reply
  • KayKay - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    That's really pushing the Q2 2006 target that we'd been hearing about.

    I have seen an AM2 board photo, so I'm hoping we're not that far off
    http://www.nordichardware.com/news,2968.html">http://www.nordichardware.com/news,2968.html
    Reply
  • fzkl - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    The HSFs that came with some of the samples AM2's I used for testing were very comfortable to work with. It was a breeze to mount the HSF on the board. This is a move in the right direction though it definitely means more money to upgrade. Anything better = more money. Guess we just have to get used to that funda. Reply
  • BlvdKing - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I was hoping the new socket would be pinless like the Intel LGA 775 socket. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I guess I won't be moving my XP-120 cooler over from my P4 system when I upgrade. Thanks AMD! Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    You'll be fine, the existing XP-90[C] and XP-120 come with an adapter for S478, and another for S754/939/940. To use the heatsinks with LGA775, you have to buy a LGA775 adapter that ThermalRight sell seperately for US$5. I would wager that Thermalright will simply produce an AM2 adapter for the heatsinks in due course, so for around US$5 you'll be able to use your XP-120 with an AM2 socket. Reply
  • MadAd - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Same here, I'm using an Si-120.... hopefully there will be conversion frame available for a small price- anythings better than having to fork out for a new one as I cannot see M2 CPUs having a hugely greater thermal density to outpace the Si. Reply
  • hans007 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    i think the whole northbridge so we can use different ram types idea is why intel sticks witha northbridge.

    i mean, i do find it rather limiting when i work with an AMD based system, that say i HAVE to use registered dimms on opterons, have to use only normal dimms on normal Athlon 64s etc, when on an intel setup you can just buy the motherboard that fits your memory (and motherboards are cheaper than memory in most cases)

    Intel may never go to an onboard controller and may just try to reduce latency on their current ones (nvidia has proven they can reduce it more than intel).

    The fact that the socket is so similar and is also 940 pins no doubt will lead to people putting the wrong chip in the socket, ordering the wrong type etc.

    I dont understand why they didnt just add like 10 random pins. say make it socket 945. at least people would not order the wrong item, etc or even come close to confusing it. And why the hsf change? granted its mounted with 4 screws instead of 2 (i.e. like intels) but what is the point. they probably only have that for heavier heatsinks (perhaps they actually need heavier hsfs who knows).

    Anyhow, I doubt this refresh is going to make any difference performance wise, if anything it reduces computer manufacturing costs, since DDR2 is already cheaper than DDR and the gap will continue to widen.
    Reply
  • mesyn191 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    i mean, i do find it rather limiting when i work with an AMD based system, that say i HAVE to use registered dimms on opterons, have to use only normal dimms on normal Athlon 64s etc, when on an intel setup you can just buy the motherboard that fits your memory (and motherboards are cheaper than memory in most cases)

    Opterons are for server use only, and in a server registered DIMMs are pretty much a standard requirement so I have no idea in the world why you would complain about that... Or why you'd complain about not being able to use em' on a regular A64, they're slower and more expensive than regular DDR DIMMs and consumer grade hardware (like a A64) doesn't need the added RAS support that registered DIMMs can provide.

    Intel may never go to an onboard controller and may just try to reduce latency on their current ones (nvidia has proven they can reduce it more than intel).

    An ODMC will always be significantly faster than a northbridge, ecspecially for DDR2 which has significantly higher latency than DDR.

    I dont understand why they didnt just add like 10 random pins. say make it socket 945. at least people would not order the wrong item, etc or even come close to confusing it. And why the hsf change? granted its mounted with 4 screws instead of 2 (i.e. like intels) but what is the point. they probably only have that for heavier heatsinks (perhaps they actually need heavier hsfs who knows).

    More pins cost more money, the amount they already have on the package is amazing for a mass produced product, probably eats up a large portion of thier per chip profits. There is a reason why Intel went with a pinless package you know, and it wasn't just because of bus singaling issues... 4 hole HSF mounting distributes the pressure more evenly over the motherboard surface, prevents the PCB from flexing when mounting a HSF.

    Anyhow, I doubt this refresh is going to make any difference performance wise, if anything it reduces computer manufacturing costs, since DDR2 is already cheaper than DDR and the gap will continue to widen.

    If you're expecting 20%+ performance gains then yea, you WILL be dissappointed, but 10% or so is not out of question with a new ODMC + DDR2.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I suppose they could have added an extra pin and called it Socket 941, but there shouldn't be any confusion anyway as it is called "Socket AM2", not "New Socket 940". The only people that could spread potential confusion are those that insist on referring to it as a new socket 940, rather than correctly calling it socket AM2. Reply
  • Ropey - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    So in order to utilize ddr2 there is an entirely new formfactor? AMD is a bit too quick to change sockets imo.

    This just makes no sense to me.

    R
    Reply
  • avbauwel - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    So you'd rather have the same socket with completely different singnal traces?

    That'd enable you to A: possibly blow up your CPU if you insert the wrong CPU in the socket (memory voltage is different for DDR/DDR2, traces are different) B: buy a new motherboard and then notice you cannot use your current CPU and memory.. But still it has the same socket.

    i rather have a new socket when memory changes, then keeping the same socket.. Makes it alot easier to find the correct motherboard for the new CPU's, especially for the non-enthousiasts out there buying PC's..

    Btw: if you think AMD is changing quickly (s939 is NOT dead yet btw ;)), take a look at inbtels track record for needed mainboard changes with CPU versions changing, and then i'm not even talking about a memory controller change...
    Reply
  • breethon - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I just sunk over $700 into a rig with a new Venice core 939 cpu, right before the 940 revolution started(like a month)....oh well. The main reason I switched from Intel (had Intel since my Pentium 150 classic)was the fact that every upgrade i needed to buy a new stinking motherboard. I was totally impressed with the way that AMD stuck to their socket design for soooooo long......DOH! Reply
  • WhoBeDaPlaya - Wednesday, February 08, 2006 - link

    Tell me about it. Socket A is still kinda alive for crying out loud.
    Long live Socket 754! :P
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I think Intel sticks to the same socket for as long as AMD does, but they change their VRM requirements a lot. Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    i think what one dude was reffering to above was it would be great if amd made a socket that was obviously different -- having 2 socket 940's that are not compatible may lead users to jam an old socket 940 cpu into a am2 mobo and bend the pins Reply
  • mesyn191 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I doubt that'll ever happen as outside of the server market socket 940 chips are unusual, socket AM2 is for consumers... Also the raised portions on the socket itself should prevent the chip from even laying flat in the first place, there isn't any way anyone with half a brain to screw it up as they'd have to use a hammer to flatten it out and even an idiot would know you don't use a hammer to install a CPU LOL. Reply
  • tygrus - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    If the northbridge had a DDR memory contoller built in, then the CPU could reuse the old stuff as additional RAM (slower + more latency) or the OS use it as a RAMdrive. Reply
  • mesyn191 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    No, they'd have to put 2 memory controllers on there in order to be able to use DDR and DRR2 with the same chip, they'd probably also have to add several hundred more pins to the package to greatly increasing costs... You're also forgetting increased motherboard costs as you'd need 2 different sets of RAM slots on the motherboard which would be difficult to route properly that close to the CPU, you'd probably need 8 layers or more just like on a server motherboard and those cost a bundle.

    Its a silly, pointless idea anywhich way you look at it as even if you could make it cost effective you'd only be able to have a 8GB RAM drive (assuming 4 DDR RAM slots) max, which is much to small to be worth anything, not to mention the cost of 2GB DDR DIMMs which even at PC2100 speeds cost $156 a piece. What a waste of money...
    Reply
  • eastvillager - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    ...which is a pretty good sign they shouldn't be working inside a pc.

    If people don't understand the ZIF concept, they need to leave CPU installation to somebody who does.
    Reply
  • chennhui - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Hi Wesley Fink,

    Could you pls label your pictures/figure? It look a little bit confusing. Thanks.

    Chen
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Labels were added to the side-by-side comparisons. Reply
  • SnoMunke - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    quote:

    those moving to AM2 will at a minimum need a new processor for a new Socket 940, new DDR2 memory to replace existing DDR memory for Athlon 64, and a new or revised heatsink/fan cooling solution.


    Since the "new Socket 940" will basically mean a new motherboard, doesn't this pretty much sum up to "a whole new computer"?
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    No. Existing F/H/ODD, PCI(-E) cards, case and PSU can be used. Reply
  • huges84 - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Is it just me, or are socket 940 and socket AM2 too similar? I don't think that the differences are obvious enough. It would be pretty easy to mistake one for the other. Also, I don't understand the change in heatsink mounts, unless the cooling rewuirements have changed enough that previous coolers are inadequate. Maybe they are trying to encourage OEMs to buy their heatsinks from AMD instead of making their own? I hope the new heatsinks will at least still use the locking lever design. That was pretty simple and worked well.

    I was hoping for a lot more information when I saw the article. I thought maybe AMD was ahead of schedule and so we were going to get some details early. But the article says they're a little behind. Oh well. At least the delay 'til summer will coincide with me getting the money to upgrade. Of course I need to see a few reviews first.
    Reply
  • lsman - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I too was expecting more when I saw the title. As AMD is selling more CPU-in-a-box than the OEM to the public. You are going to get a HSF anyway. So the added cost are to enthusiasts which will spend it anyway. Reply
  • Powermoloch - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Not bad, not bad at all. Especially keeping the HSF mount same as usual w/ the other Athlon 64 counterparts. This saves a few bucks or more for some people that's for sure ;). Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    The point of the article is that your current Athlon64 Heatsink/Fans will likely NOT work on the new AM2 cage. We didn't have a single HSF in house that would fit the new AM2 mounting cage. Reply
  • Live - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Very bad news this! I was definitely planning to move my current cooling over to the new socket. This adds even more cost to upgrading :( Reply
  • Live - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Very good info tough. So thanks a bunch for the article. I used to think that the only things that would not move over was the CPU, memory and motherboard. Now I guess we will have to add cooling to that list.

    Reply
  • BrownTown - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    lol, do people even read these articles or jsut try to get the first comment? Reply
  • Powermoloch - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    Oops. I kinda speed reading there, lol my bad :) Reply
  • jkostans - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    No..... you're just and IDIOT! Reply
  • Bonesdad - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    he can't read, you can't write...let's call the whole thing off...

    ;-)
    Reply
  • Lifted - Monday, February 06, 2006 - link

    I think the answer is rather obvious in this case. Reply

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