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
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  • Icewind - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Slight gramatical problem here......

    As we have mentioned in previous news articles, these new CPUs will run at the 3500+ will run at 2.2GHz while the 3800+ and FX-53 will run at 2.4 GHz each.

    I think you wanted to say "These new CPU"S will be starting at the 3500+ model running at 2.2ghz to the 3800+ running at 2.4ghz."

  • Viditor - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    "I have updated the article to reflect the fact that we did indeed run our tests with 1T timings on the MSI K8T800 Pro 939 board"

    Thanks Derek...that's why I always read you guys!
  • WBurton - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    I'm getting a bit frustrated with the Sponsored Links constantly crashing my Opera 7.x. It'd be nice to review an article without having to reboot all the time.
  • MIDIman - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Is it possible that the release of a 64-bit OS will change all of these numbers and conlcusions?
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    1066MHz HT bus?
    I thought the HT bus ram 200xmult
    So isn't it 200x5, or 1000MHz?
    (Typo on the first page?)
  • boban10 - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    what i dont like about many review sites that they encoding always the same codec and then say p4 is faster.
    well look here how they test it:


    i hope that your and anandtech next reviews will be more in depth about encoding, cause if people read your reviews about encoding they will buy p4.
    but p4 is not faster in all encoding and that is important to say and test. and i like this site, but if next time i see again only one test in encoding (and that where is know that p4 win) then i will not read your page anymore. and no im not amd fan, im performance fan.
  • mechBgon - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Jeff7181, you asked "Is running four unbuffered DIMMs really that necessary?"

    I was running three 512MB modules on my A7N8X Deluxe before replacing it with my K8V Deluxe. That was working out nicely for what I was using it for. When I installed my A64 and K8V Deluxe, I stepped *down* to 1.0GB because if I used all three modules, it would want to run them at DDR200/PC1600 speeds. If I could add a fourth module for 2.0GB total, that would be a welcome improvement. Yeah, I could invest in two 1GB DIMMs, I guess...

    Intel's i865 and i875 families have brought 4 DDR400 DIMMs to Pentium4 owners, and that capability, along with CSA Gigabit, are two places where I have to admit Intel trumped AMD & Co. nicely, and has kept them trumped for quite a while too. So it would be nice to see AMD get their mojo working here.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    I have updated the article to reflect the fact that we did indeed run our tests with 1T timings on the MSI K8T800 Pro 939 board.

    I appologize for the omission.
  • Viditor - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    I wonder if Derek caught the bios setting tweak that Aces found.

    "An incredible difference: with a faster bus turnaround, the memory subsystem is able to serve up to 24% more bandwidth, and the latency goes down from 51 (21.25 ns) to 47 cycles (19.6 ns). This results in measurable real world performance gains:

    In 3DS Max 5.1, we gained 3% of performance
    In Medieval War, Comanche we also gained 3%
    In Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, we gained 5.5%
    In WinRAR and Plasma, the performance advantage was no less than 9%"

  • nycxandy - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Which motherboard was used for the 939 processors?

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