Westlake Village (CA) - While Intel is busy bringing its next processor generation, based on the Merom core, up to speed, AMD is adding the final touches to its DDR2-based Socket M2 Athlon 64 platform, TG Daily has learned. AMD is preparing 12 M2 processors for Q2 launch, spanning the Athlon 64, X2, FX and Sempron series of CPUs. Part of the launch will be an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and an Athlon 64 FX-62 chip.
Looking at processor roadmap of the next 12 months, we have had a pretty good idea what we can expect from Intel for quite some time now. AMD is a different story, however, as the Texans do not feel the need to reveal much of their future product line-up as long as Intel's CPUs are kept at a safe distance, at least in terms of performance and heat generation.
There was little we knew about the upcoming Socket M2 platform, AMD's entry into the DDR2 memory arena - until now. Sources told us that not just Intel is preparing an armada of new processors, but also AMD will be padding the launch of the M2 platform with a dozen processors - including Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 and Sempron - available at launch sometime in Q2 of this year.
All Socket M2 processors will be based on a common DDR2 memory controller that is validated for 333 MHz operation (DDR2-667), with only the cache size and clock speed differentiating the individual processors. There will be 2 x 1 MB or 2 x 512 kB L2 cache for the dual cores, 512 kB L2 cache for the single core Athlon 64 models and 256 kB for the Sempron series. While Intel's chipset specifications officially support 4 clock CAS latencies for DDR2-667 memory only, there is some headroom for AMD to optimize the memory interface for CAS 3. This circumstance could become significant, as the performance difference between the current Socket 939 processors and their upcoming Socket M2 counterparts will be rather small, according to sources.
The Socket M2 launch will be flanked by at least four Athlon 64 X2 models, which are based on the 90 nm Windsor core. These processors will be running the clock speeds we are familiar with today. However, AMD will introduce an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ clocked at 2.6 GHz and equipped with 1x 1 MB L2 cache. Frequent readers of TG Daily and Tom's Hardware Guide may now notice that these are the exact specifications of the Athlon 64 FX-60 that recently was launched. This FX-60 processor will be replaced by a 2.8 GHz FX-62 at M2 launch.
The single core Athlon 64 family will be slimmed down to just three models integrating the 90 nm Orleans core. The Athlon 64 4000+ will be running at 2.6 GHz, as it comes with 512 kB L2 cache only (today's 4000+ is a 1 MB part). The 3800+ runs at 2.4 GHz; the Athlon 64 3500+ will be the entry level chip at 2.2 GHz. Both the Athlon 64 and the Athlon 64 X2 will support AMD's virtualization technology known as "Pacifica."
Last but not least, the Sempron family will consist of four members at the time of M2 launch. All Sempron processors are based on the 90 nm Manila core and carry only 256 kB L2, but they do come with AMD's dual channel DDR2-667 interface. This potentially could make Sempron the clearly better choice when compared to Intel's Celeron. The Sempron models 3500+, 3400+, 3200+ and 3000+ will run at 2.2, 2.0, 1.8 and 1.6 GHz, respectively. 3600+ and 3800+ models 2.4 and 2.6 GHz apparently are available already and could be added to the line-up, as soon as Intel speeds up the Celeron family.