What's In A New Socket

With the introduction of the 939 platform, we will see a convergence of platforms on the mainstream and high end desktop market for Athlon 64. Until now, the decision between the mainstream Athlon 64 and the FX version of the processor brought with it the problems of choosing between registered memory for a dual channel platform originally targeted at the workstation market and unbuffered memory for a single channel platform. The 939 pin platform brings us the ability to use unbuffered memory (which is slightly faster, cheaper, and more available than registered memory) in a dual channel configuration with either an Athlon 64 or an Athlon 64 FX processor.

Not that any platform is (or ever will be?) future proof, but 939 will provide its adopters with a broader range of options for processors. We have already hit the upper limits of the 940 desktop platform in the FX-53 processor, and the 754 pin Athlon 64 will only reach one speed grade past the current high end 3400+ to the 3700+ (at least as far as current AMD plans indicate).

Of course, midrange and high end platform convergence doesn't mean that the 940 pin and 754 pin platforms will go away. We will continue to see 940 pin processors and platforms in their original market (workstation/server) sporting AMD's Opteron processors. The 754 platform will become the new home of the Athlon XP and AMD's value line of processors. The new Athlon XP will be a trimmed down, 32bit only version of the Athlon 64.

Aside from bringing together AMD's two current Athlon 64 lines of processors, the 939 also has a couple other benefits that are attractive to users. As we mentioned earlier, the new platform will offer support for unbuffered memory with a dual channel setup. Athlon 64 processors built for the 754 pin socket are limited to single channel memory support, and the 940 pin processors require registered RAM. As such, we should see a performance increase when moving to 939 from both directions: The FX processors will shed the added latency of buffered RAM, while dual channel support will add increased bandwidth to the mainstream Athlon 64 line.

There will be less improvement on the FX line of processors, but will either design increase significantly in performance from the enhancements made possible on the 939 platform? Based on the naming of the new chips being released, AMD seems to think so. Of course, that is ultimately what we are here to find out.

Let's take a look at what AMD is bringing out to plug into this socket.

Index The Chips


View All Comments

  • gherald - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Search for 939 on newegg.com folks, you will be pleasantly surprised! Now if we could just find a motherboard...

    I had been hopping this launch would bring the 754 prices down a bit to, say, $220 for a 3200 and $350 for a 3400, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen quite yet what with 939 starting out at $500 for the 3500 and $700 for the 3800... *sigh* ... more waiting... perhaps prices will come down by the time true PCIe motherboards are availeable.
  • amdfanboy - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Go AMD !! Reply
  • nserra - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    "Everything here is graphics card limited even at 1024x768, but perhaps in the near future when we upgrade the video card we use in CPU and motherboard tests..." i have said this at xbit site and I say it here again!
    What about lowering games resolution and details it may help! There is a detail level in almost every game, it may help. You are testing a processor not the video card! I don't want benches in a processor review that limit the differences between processors.
    fx53 35 fps vs xp3000+ 34fps, what a difference!
  • JGF - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    #22 while I certainly agree these new prices are too high I dont agree with the wholesale gutting of prices that you're recommending. AMD deserves some decent margins, they shouldnt have to give their product away all the time. Thats unhealthy business and has really hurt amd in the past. I want a healthy amd and for that they are going to need some fatter margins on some sku's. Reply
  • RyanVM - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Found a typo on page 13: "Winstones hare usually very static..." should be "Winstones are usually very static..." Reply
  • XRaider - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    What the heat issues with these newer AMD cpu's? I believe I read on that French site that the new AMD's are putting out alot of thermal wattage! 100+ Can anyone confirm this? I believe the P4 3.4 puts out around 102 - 104 watts! That's alot. Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    I found a couple of typos if anyone would care to correct them:


    Workstation performance is more sensitive to memory bandwidth, and we do see a wider range in variation among the --3.2GHz-- (THAT WOULD BE 2,2GHz) processors in SPECviewperf.

    The pattern was the generally the same fastest to slowest of 939-949-754 (THAT WOULD BE 939-940-754)


    Since we have found the performance of the Dual-Channel Socket 940 and the Single-Channel 754 to be close when hey (THEY)ran...

    Anyway these new S939s suck a$$. Well actually their prices do. Here's what I suggest: retire Athlon XP socket A, introduce it as Socket 754 but only higher models, price 20% up, bring S754 down 33% and S939 down 50%, retire FXs. These prices now are insane.

    AMD are you listening? Of course not.
  • Viditor - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    "i'll be getting a Dual Channel for sure when the arrive. Pair that with a nice new X800 XT from ATI and i'll be sitting pretty with the flexibility of upgrading for awhile"

    Horses for courses I guess...I'll be getting one too, but I think I'm going nvidia because they appear to have a better handle on 64bit drivers...
  • vedin - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Sure would be nice if they released something more along the lines of a 3000-3300+ for 939 this year. Maybe then my brother can finally be nice and justified with an upgrade without having to spend a lot. Reply
  • Icewind - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Hmmm, well i'll be getting a Dual Channel for sure when the arrive. Pair that with a nice new X800 XT from ATI and i'll be sitting pretty with the flexibility of upgrading for awhile.

    Thanks again AMD, im anxious to get out of this P4 setup I have now.

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