One of the biggest visible changes is the size of the retention module, which is now fixed on by four screws rather than two.
The new retention module for the AM2 socket is more flexible.
The familiar module for the previous Sockets 939 and 754.
AMD gave it some thought and improved the holding fixture in two respects:
The edges on the side of the module have disappeared, making it easier to remove the heatsink. When properly done, the CPU can no longer stick to the heatsink when the latter is removed, as it can now be slid to the side before being lifted off. The condition for this is of course that the memory modules may need to be removed first, depending on board design.
By removing the edges, heatsink manufacturers can now work with bigger surface areas, which should mean more effective heatsink designs.
The retention module is now fixed with four screws, which not only provides more stability, but also gives heatsink manufacturers greater flexibility.
The new retention module takes up a lot more room; the holes are also bigger.
The small holes for the old heatsink holding fixture.
The lip in the center of the module is still there, enabling the use of old heatsinks held in place by lugs.
The old box heatsink on the new socket is also an option.
On the positive side, retention modules have been developed to enable use of the new heatsink on the old platforms.
Newly developed retention modules can also be mounted on old boards.
The larger holes and greater spacing on the new retention module make it a dream for users who prefer to build and develop their own water cooling or retention systems.