AMD's Socket-939 has been the platform of choice almost immediately after its introduction, so it is fitting that the last Socket-939 processor to be released would be the Athlon 64 FX-60.

After today's launch of the FX-60, there will be no faster Socket-939 CPUs produced. Instead, everything else will be Socket-AM2 (the new name for Socket-M2). Next quarter, AMD will launch their Socket-AM2 platform along with AM2 versions of the Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2 and the FX-62. Given that the AM2 platform adds DDR2 support, it is entirely feasible that the Athlon 64 FX-62 won't receive a clock speed bump over the FX-60 and just use the higher bandwidth memory as justification for the higher model number.

Although we've generally shied away from recommending AMD's FX line of processors, we can't help but be a little excited about the FX-60. When AMD introduced their X2 line of dual-core processors, the FX series remained single core, but maintained a fairly high clock speed. AMD even went as far as to release the FX-57, clocked a full 400MHz higher than the fastest X2. With the FX-60, that trend is over; from this day forward, all members of the FX series of processors are now dual core. They are still sold under the Athlon 64 FX brand, despite being dual core chips.

Our excitement over the Athlon 64 FX-60 isn't really about its performance, although at 2.6GHz it is quite stellar; rather, it is more of an excitement out of principle. We've favored and recommended dual core processors to power users as soon as they were available, even though dual core processors were generally far slower at single-threaded applications than their equivalently priced single core alternatives. With the FX-60, at least at the high end, the same is no longer true.

The fastest single core AMD processor is still the Athlon 64 FX-57 running at 2.8GHz, which AMD will continue to sell alongside the FX-60. But with the clock speed gap between the 2.6GHz dual core FX-60 and the 2.8GHz single core FX-57 a meager 7.6%, you can effectively go to one CPU and get the best single-threaded and multithreaded performance. Remember that the best applications that scale with clock speed generally give you a 50% return on every 100% increase in clock speed, so in most of the single-threaded cases, the FX-57's performance advantage will be in the 0 - 4% range. But on the flip side, the fact that the FX-60 is a dual core processor will buy it a lot in multithreaded applications.

As with all FX series processors, the FX-60 debuts at $1031 in quantities of 1000, so you can expect street pricing to be at or around that number. The FX-57 will drop to $827 mark as it will co-exist with the FX-60.

The FX-60 is really just a multiplier unlocked 2.6GHz Athlon 64 X2. It is still a 90nm processor and there are no architectural changes that we've been made aware of or have been able to find on our own. We stress the point that it is still a 90nm chip because of the fact that its closest competitor, the Pentium Extreme Edition 955, just debuted on Intel's 65nm process. Because Intel is on a smaller manufacturing process, they can cram more transistors into a smaller space. So although the Pentium EE 955 is a 376-million transistor chip, they only take up 162 mm2 of space. The Athlon 64 FX-60 by comparison is a 233-million transistor chip, but its die is a larger 199 mm2. The move to 65nm for AMD should cut the die size roughly in half assuming no architectural changes, but until then, Intel will at least have the manufacturing advantage.

You shouldn't, however, assume that the smaller, cooler running manufacturing process will result in a power advantage for Intel. The problem is that those 376 million transistors are used to build a beast of a chip with a 31-stage pipeline, so power consumption is still actually higher on the Extreme Edition than on AMD's fastest dual core:

System Power Consumption while Idle

System Power Consumption under Full Load

The move to 65nm has made sure that AMD can no longer claim that they consume less power under full load than Intel does at idle, but AMD still has a significant power advantage. Under full load, the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 system consumes 25% more power than our Athlon 64 FX-60 testbed. So luckily for AMD, Intel's manufacturing advantage doesn't actually translate into a power advantage, but unluckily for AMD, it does translate into a manufacturing and cost savings advantage.

The Test
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  • Gogar - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Video Card: ATI Radeon X1800 XT

    Why is an ATI video card used to test gaming in combination with a dual-core processors?
    It is known that only Nvidia's drivers make use dual-core technology.
    I mean seriously.. In the benchmarks you see the FX-57 winning from the FX60 in BF2, though had a 7800GTX been used in the tests it would have been a totally different story.
    Reply
  • secretanchitman - Saturday, January 14, 2006 - link

    i think that AT should update their cpu-z, as 1.24 is quite old and 1.31 is the newest!

    great cpu, and theres really no point in getting the fx-57 when this is out.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, January 12, 2006 - link

    boy what a crap stepping.. guys at xtreme are habitually seeing 3Ghz with the toledo/denmarks at much lower cost for months now. Either way 2.6 Ghz AMD anything is really fast as shown in the benches.. when DDR2 comes should be total blowout. Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - link

    Three gaming tests? Slackers! Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - link

    You want MORE? Go read FiringSquad's review that particular one has plenty of gaming tests. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - link

    My FX60 results for top CPU speed were almost identical to Xbit with a top speed of 2926 at default 1.35V. As we have seen on recent AMD processors, adding additional vCore does next to nothing for maximum overclock.

    However, despite the fact that we could run 209x14 with complete stability at 1.35V with an OCZ 2GB memory kit at 2-3-2, the best overall performance was at 255x11 at 2.5-3-2 timings at default vDimm. We also got very nice results at 266x11 at 3-3-2 with a slight increase in vDimm to 2.7V.

    The FX60 is rated at 2.6GHz, but it looks like most are reaching 2.9GHz at default voltage with no problem, and reduced ratios/higher memory clocks are also working well at 2.9GHz. An AMD dual-core that runs fine on air at 3GHz may have to wait for 65nm, but the FX60 is very, very close to that milestone at 90nm.
    Reply
  • Yianaki - Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - link

    Can someone tell me WHY oh WHY gaming site like your blindly tell people to go and get dual core systems when there is a HUGE Nvidia driver bug rendering the 7800 useless. Every driver NVIDIA has made since the 8x.xx series is buggy. Their forums are filled with 8x.xx dual core problem posts. The only solution is to revert to 78.01 drivers which have no dual core 'OPTIMIZATIONS'. But this isn't a solutions for people with newer cards.

    http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?s=b3a5a08b4a297...">http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?s=b3...9727c04b...

    It randomly crashes and people who say it has no problems haven't tried it with the incompatible programs. It won't start openGL windows programs like paint shop pro x & 9. The newest drivers errata sheet says they fixed the problems with Paint Shop Pro X this is NOT the case. I have been waiting patiently since SEPTEMBER with no fixes in site. Why doesn't someone do a report about this issue? I want the game fixes that the newer drivers have and I don't want buggy drivers! This is insane NVIDIA hasen't even disclosed this problem even exists. I would gladly give back the miniscule dual core optimization gains to get back an actual working computer!!! I have only bought NVIDIA cards since they came out with the Riva 128 but I don't think my next one will be NVIDIA especially if this isn't fixed yeasterday. And by the way all the stupid registry hacks posted on riva forums that supposedly remove dual core support for opengl and directx don't work at all. I applied the Windows dual core patch and the AMD one they fix games that ran too fast but do nothing for the random crashes and programs that won't start!
    Reply
  • kilkennycat - Saturday, January 14, 2006 - link

    I have seen this very loud complaint about the 81.xx drivers on various nVidia forums, but always pointing back to Paint Shop Pro.

    Logic dictates that the bug is in the very poorly supported program called:--- Pain(t) Shop Pro, discounted heavily everywhere. Very likely that the 81.xx revised driver structure just tripped over a hidden bug in the PSP executable -- nothing to do with dual-core optimizations. About time you dumped PSP and used a program from a reputable vendor. If you are a bit more gracious, nVidia might add a work-around to their driver, as they have done for some poorly-supported games in the past, but the weight of logical evidence points to PSP being the culprit. Do PSP versions previous to PSP 9 fail also ?

    Have you tried installing and using "imagecfg.exe" with the appropriate switches to trial-modify the PSP executable ( after backing up the original .exe ) to force it to use just one core and see if the problem goes away ? (Google is your friend wrt "image.cfg" )

    I am running sundry professional and both recent and ancient 3D-games (both OpenGL & DX9 ) on a X2 4400+, A8N32-SLI, 7800GTX(256) using various versions of the 81.xx driver series, the latest being 81.98. Nary a problem, except for one or two games with Set Affinity problems, requiring imagecfg. Adobe Premiere 1.5, for example, run like a champ with full multi-core support.
    Reply
  • kilkennycat - Saturday, January 14, 2006 - link

    Oops, correcting a sentence in my posting:-> Google is your friend wrt "imagecfg.exe" Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - link

    Are you sure that all of those people are running clean, properly setup Windows installations? I have the latest Nvidia driver at work and at home, I run CAD/CAM apps and games and neither I nor my co-workers have these problems. Reply

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