To say that AMD has been uncharacteristically quiet lately would be an understatement of epic proportions. The company that had been so vocal about their K8 architecture in the past will hardly say anything at all about future products, extending even to its forthcoming AM2 platform. In just two months AMD is scheduled to officially unveil its first DDR2 platform (Socket-AM2), but we've heard virtually nothing about performance expectations.

Back in January we sought to discover for ourselves what AMD's Socket-AM2 platform would have in store for end users. You'll remember that when Intel made the shift to DDR2 it basically yielded no tangible performance improvement, and we were all quite afraid that the same would be true of AM2. When we finally tested the AM2 samples that were available at the time, performance was absolutely dismal. Not only could AMD's AM2 not outperform currently shipping Socket-939 platforms, but due to serious issues with the chip's memory controller performance was significantly lower.

Given that AMD was supposed to launch in June at Computex, the fact that AM2 was performing so poorly just five months before launch was cause for worry. Despite our worries, we elected not to publish benchmark results and to give AMD more time to fix the problems. We're not interested in creating mass panic by testing a product that's clearly premature.

In February we tried once more, this time with a new spin of the AM2 silicon, but performance continued to be lower than Socket-939. Luckily for AMD, the performance had improved significantly, so it was slower than Socket-939 but not as much as before.

The next revision of the AM2 silicon we received sometime in March, and this one finally added support for DDR2-800, which is what AM2 will launch with supposedly at Computex. With the launch only three months out, we expected performance to be at final shipping levels, and we were left disappointed once more. Even with DDR2-800 at the best timings we could manage back then, Socket-AM2 was unable to outperform Socket-939 at DDR-400.

That brings us to today; we're now in the month of April, with less than two months before AMD's official unveiling of its Socket-AM2 platform at Computex in June, and yes we have a brand new spin of AM2 silicon here to test. We should note that it's not all AMD that's been holding AM2 performance behind. The motherboard makers have of course gone through their fair share of board revisions, not to mention the various chipset revisions that have changed performance as well. Regardless, according to internal AMD documents, AM2 CPUs are going to start being sold to distributors starting next month, leaving very little time for significant changes to the CPU to impact performance. We feel that now is as good of a time to preview AM2 performance and put things into perspective as we're likely to get before the official launch.

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  • Furen - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    Hardly a "common rumor", it's an Inquirer rumor that has been given a lot of circulation but I have yet to see another publication confirm it.
  • jones377 - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    The bandwidth numbers are better now but STILL dissapointing. Intel will probably get about the same or better number from a 1333MHz FSB using DDR2 667. In the past, AMD always got a little better bandwidth out of the same speed modules. Are AMD sandbagging or do they have problems with their DDR2 controller?
  • tk109 - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    So they basicly have no answer to Conroe...
  • rqle - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    yes we do, we still have that "previous generation vs. new generation" quote we can always used. LOL. just like AMD64 vs northwood/presscott.

    But really though, i assume the amd crowd should be a little smarter and get over that quote.
  • phaxmohdem - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    I get a bit confused as to what generation is what, and where you draw the line at a generation change for instance:

    AMD -> Intel

    486 -> 486 <--Gen 4
    K5/K6 -> Pentium <--Gen 5/6 vs. Gen 5
    K6-2/3 -> Pentium II <-- Gen 6
    K7 Athlon -> Pentium III <--Gen 7 vs. Gen 6?
    K7 Athlon XP -> Pentium 4 Willamette/Northwood <--Gen 7
    K8 A64 -> Pentium 4 Prescott <-- Gen 8 vs. Gen 8??
    K8 A64 -> Conroe/Core <-- Gen 8 vs. Gen 9?

    Perhaps someone can shed some light on this.
  • Shintai - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    How did Prescott become Gen 8? Its a northwood with 64bit

    Conroe is Gen 8. So your table should say K8 (Gen8) vs Conroe (Gen8)
  • Furen - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    LOL, how do you define a "generation"? What kind of changes indicate that you're talking about a new generation? The K8 is remarkably similar to a K7, so is it a newer generation or just an improvement on the same one? Does it even matter?

    The K8 has been on the market for close to three years now, so it's completely understandable that a brand new architecture will give it a run for its money. I'll say this, though, both the K8 and the Prescott came out at around the same time, so considering both the same generation is reasonable.

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