AMD unleashes AM2 processor series

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD today announced 15 new processors based on its new socket AM2 and support for DDR2 memory. While 13 processors simply transition from the old socket 939, there are two completely new CPUs - the 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and the 2.8 GHz FX-62.

Frequent readers of TG Daily should not be too surprised about the new AMD processors as we first reported about the new processors already back in January of this year. As we mentioned back then, the big news is the migration of its core processor family to a new and scalable platform.

The AM2 family reaches from very low-end (Sempron 3000+ to 3600+), the lower-end mainstream (Athlon 64 3500+ and 3800+) through the upper mainstream (Athlon 64 X2 3800+ to 5000+) all the way to the high-end gaming CPU (Athlon 64 FX-62). Right from the start, the products covers volume prices that begin at $77 (Sempron 3000+) and top out at $1031 (FX-62).

All socket AM2 processors are 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. The dual-cores carry 2 x 1 MB (FX-62) or 2 x 512 kB L2 cache (X2), the single-core Athlon 64 models 512 kB L2 cache and the Sempron 256 kB.

AMD said that the processors will bring "a small bump" in performance, but it won't be a revolutionary improvement. Still, the company told us that the speed increase provides an "overall benefit for the user," even if the socket is expected to get better and "mature" over time. Probably the most attractive reason to buy an AM2 system is AMD's strategy to stay with a certain socket for some time to enable simple processor upgrades and allow users to "drop in" a newer generation CPU down the road.

Power consumption is less of a concern on the desktop, but AMD made substantial improvements with most of its processors and is able to match the levels Intel is targeting with Conroe (Core 2 Do E4000/E6000 series). The Sempron's thermal design power (TDP) stays at 62 watts, but AMD added a lower power 3000+ model that is rated at 35 watts; the Athlon 64 drops from a range of 67 - 89 watts to 62 watts and also adds a low power 35 watt model. The dual-cores drop from 89 watts to 65 watts to match Conroe. The 4800+ model, which has been rated at 110 watt with socket 939, has received a TDP spec of 89 watts with AM2.

The brand-new 2.8 GHz FX-62 model is the only processor that actually increases its TDP on AM2. While the previous FX-60 had a TDP of 104 watts, the FX-62 is rated at 125 watts. AMD ensured us that this new TDP does not automatically mean that the processor consumes more power than the old processor; in fact, the company claims that there are no changes in system qualifications and the chip should not generate more heat than the FX-60. The adjustment of the TDP rating left questions open, as the manufacturer was not able to provide a reason why the maximum power consumption value was increased by more than 20% - and in fact is high enough to challenge Intel's current Pentium Extreme Edition.

In terms of performance, AMD promises buyers a performance lead over the competition on the very high end. The FX-62 will be about 7% faster than the FX-60 and about 34% ahead of the Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955, the firm claims.

Of course, these high-end processors don't come cheap and AMD has learned to price its processors against Intel's fastest CPUs. The new FX-62 will be priced at $1031 in 1000-unit quantities. Retail pricing will be much higher and should be in line with previous product generations: The preceding FX-60 was also priced at $1031 but entered retail at an average price of $1250, according to's Market Reporter. Intel's Extreme Edition processors currently retail for about $1025 (model 955) and $1086 (model 965).

The new flagship for multimedia computers, the X2 5000+ processor, is listed for $696 - which is substantially lower than the $1001 AMD charged for the 4800+ at launch. The 4800+ currently retails for around $630.

Related article:
AMD challenges Intel with 35W, 65W desktop processors

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