AMD Socket-AM2: Same Performance, Faster Memory, Lower Powerby Anand Lal Shimpi on May 23, 2006 12:14 PM EST
- Posted in
The Odd Multiplier Issue
Another item that was working against the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ on the previous page was the fact that it used an odd clock multiplier, in this case 13.0, in order to achieve its 2.6GHz clock speed. The problem with odd clock multipliers on AM2 CPUs is that the memory controller actually runs at DDR2-742 instead of DDR2-800. AM2 CPUs with even clock multipliers can run at DDR2-800 without any problems, and the reason why is pretty simple.
Below is the equation for calculating the memory speed of any Athlon 64 processor:
Reference Clock * Clock Multiplier = CPU Frequency
CPU Frequency / Memory Divisor = Memory Frequency
AMD only supports integer memory divisors, but let's start out by looking at how an AM2 CPU with an even clock multiplier fits the equation. For example, an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ runs at 2.4GHz and supports DDR2-800.
200MHz Reference Clock * 12x Clock Multiplier = 2400MHz CPU Frequency
2400MHz CPU Frequency / 6 = 400MHz DDR2-800 Memory Frequency
No problems, right? Now let's see how an odd clock multiplier changes things:
200MHz Reference Clock * 13x Clock Muliplier = 2600MHz CPU Frequency
2600MHz CPU Frequency / 6 = 433MHz DDR2-866 Memory Frequency
2600MHz CPU Frequency / 7 = 371MHz DDR2-742 Memory Frequency
See a problem? Because we can only use integer memory dividers, the only options for memory speed on a CPU with an odd clock multiplier are DDR2-866 or DDR2-742. Since AMD can't run above DDR2-800 spec, the only option is to underclock the memory to DDR2-742. This wasn't a problem on Socket-939 CPUs because DDR-400 ran at a 200MHz frequency, which you could always obtain by dividing the CPU clock frequency by an integer (since AMD never supported half multipliers). In fact, you simply used the same integer as the CPU multiplier. With DDR2-800, you need a 400MHz clock frequency, which you can only generate if you have an even CPU clock multiplier.
The problem gets even more complicated when you take into account the fact that Semprons and single-core Athlon 64s only support DDR2-667, which also has a similar issue.
While we haven't seen any significant downside to only running at DDR2-742 vs. DDR2-800, it is something to keep in mind when deciding what CPU to purchase. If you want your memory controller running at DDR2-800, you may want to stay away from the odd clock multiplier CPUs (X2 5000+, 4400+ and 4200+).