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What an interesting scenario this is: AMD, which has traditionally been an advocate of energy-efficient computing, has had to turn up processor heat and sacrifice efficiency to remain competitive in the prestigious enthusiast space. Its brand-new top model, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+, reaches 3.0 GHz on 90 nm silicon, which means that it is the hottest and most energy-hungry Athlon 64 X2 dual core. This reminds us of Intel's 90 nm Pentium 4 Prescott and the first generation Pentium D 800 dual cores, which burned up to 130 W to stay within reach of AMD's Athlon 64 family. Today we almost have a role reversal, because it is AMD working to keep up with Intel.
AMD has continued with its introduction of 65 nm processors into the mainstream, offering 65 W thermal design points for mainstream CPUs with one and two processing cores. Right now, the Athlon 64 X2 portfolio does not include any 65 nm processor faster than 5000+, but I am sure that this will change over time. The Athlon 64 FX-62, with its 125 W TDP, has been replaced by the Athlon 64 X2 5600+, which is specified at a maximum of 89 W - AMD of course believes that this is an advance. But the new Athlon 64 X 6000+ still consumes up to 125 W, and you might wonder why the new top model wasn't called the Athlon 64 FX-64. We interviewed AMD's technical public relations specialist Damon Muzny to get the answers.
It doesn't come as a surprise that even the new 3.0 GHz top model cannot outperform the Core 2 Extreme X6800 or the quad core QX6700. Although it is fast, Intel's top models are faster, and more efficient. You do have to spend roughly $1,000 to appreciate the true promise of the Core 2 flagship models - most people do not even spend that much money for a whole PC! At $459, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ comes at an extremely aggressive price point, which is exactly between the Core 2 Duo E6600 and the E6700. We believe that the new AMD processor can be a great deal for those who would have to exchange their platforms before they could run a Core 2 Duo.