AMD Socket-AM2: Same Performance, Faster Memory, Lower Powerby Anand Lal Shimpi on May 23, 2006 12:14 PM EST
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And there you have it, quite possibly the most unimpressive launch from AMD (from a performance perspective), but given what we had already seen prior to today there shouldn't be any surprises. The introduction of the Athlon 64 FX-62 means that there is an even faster alternative for those looking to spend as much as possible on a desktop or workstation CPU, but the new 5000+ isn't really all that appealing, especially if you're a gamer.
Socket-AM2 is unfortunately not about performance, and much about bringing a unified memory platform not only to AMD but to the industry as a whole. With all desktop AMD CPUs sharing a single socket end users and OEMs alike will have a much easier job when building AMD systems. On a much more macro scale, with both AMD and Intel using DDR2 memory prices should be driven down even further and switching between platforms will no longer require throwing away your entire memory investment.
The big story with Socket-AM2 is really the introduction of the new Energy Efficient and Energy Efficient Small Form Factor CPUs, but unfortunately those are not yet available. Instead, today's launch ends up being much more about the chipsets being used on AM2 motherboards rather than the CPUs. Later today we will be looking at NVIDIA's nForce 500 series and how the evolution of the most popular AMD chipset has taken to the Socket-AM2 platform.
It is ironic and equally unfortunate for AMD that on the eve of Intel finally getting its act together, that the Socket-AM2 launch is so devoid of any sort of performance improvements. It's clear that AMD's architecture just simply isn't starved of memory bandwidth at this point, and it will take either higher clock speeds or architectural improvements to make the move to DDR2 necessary. We are happy with the fact that AMD at least kept memory latency down while moving to DDR2, but at this point there's simply no use for the bandwidth.
In the coming months we will see the official launch of Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, based on the Conroe core. Only time will tell how availability will affect pricing of those CPUs, but Intel is quite eager to release them. AMD is also awaiting the launch of Core 2 Duo, though for different reasons; in fact one of its stipulations for sending out Socket-AM2 review kits was that the CPUs not be compared to Conroe. We understood and agreed with AMD's stance on the issue, simply because Core 2 Duo (Conroe) isn't shipping yet while AM2 is, but we do get a sense of concern whenever Conroe is brought up around AMD.
AMD does have one last trick up its sleeve before the end of the year, and you will hear about it in June. It's not K8L and it's not going to affect the majority of people, but it is an interesting stop gap solution for the high end in 2006...