AMD adds new flagship Athlon 64 X2 processors 5400+, 5600+

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD today launched new dual-core mainstream processors in order to regain at least some of its competitiveness in the segment of higher-end mainstream processors. The new 5400+ and 5600+ bring an increase of clock speed and are squarely aimed at Intel's Core 2 Duo E6600 and E6700 processors.

For now, AMD's aging 90 nm "Toledo" core has to stay of the forefront of the battle against Intel's Core 2 Duo, formerly code-named "Conroe". The new processors 5400+ and 5600+ use socket AM2 and increase the clock speed from 2.6 GHz of the 5000+/5200+ to 2.8 GHz. As previously, AMD uses different cache sizes for different performance ratings of its processors: The 5400+ has 1 MB L2 cache, the 5600+ 2 MB.

What makes these two processors interesting is not the fact that AMD was able squeeze more clock speed out of Toledo - at 89 watts, which remains level with the 90 nm 5200+ and 5000+ - but the fact that these are strategically important CPUs for AMD. If you were to spend about $500 for a new processor, and you were open to any processor available today, then Intel's Core 2 Duo 6700 was the obvious choice. While we do not have the performance numbers of the X2s yet, AMD feels confident enough to price the 5400+ and 5600+ right against the E6700. Intel's fastest mainstream processor currently lists for a tray-price of $530 (retail: $525), while AMD charges $485 for the 5400+ and $505 for the 5600+. At least from that perspective, AMD is able to place itself again in the very lucrative segment of $400+ mainstream CPUs. But only their performance capability will show, if they can exceed the performance level of Intel's E6600 ($316) and their price is justified.

For users who are planning on buying a higher-end mainstream PC in the next few weeks, the scenario is pretty much set. Don't expect any updates from AMD and Intel until the second quarter of this year. While both companies do not officially comment on future products, sources indicated that AMD will be introducing 3 GHz versions of its Toledo core (5800+ and 6000+) early in Q3 2007, both of which will consume a maximum of 89 watts. However, the company will be introducing its new 65 nm "Kuma" dual-core processor as well. And if power is a concern for you as well, it may be worth waiting for the 65 nm versions ("Brisbane") of the current Athlon 64 X2 5200+ and 5400+, which are scheduled to be introduced with a power envelope of 76 watts in Q2 2007.

Of course, Intel is not standing still either. On the consumer high-end, Intel will begin offering an E6800 (2.93 GHz), E6850 (3 GHz), the E6750 (2.66 GHz) and E6650 (2.33 GHz) as well the quad-core Core 2 Quad E6600 (2.4 GHz) in Q2 and Q3. We also expect another quad-core with a clock speed of at least 2.66 GHz. The 50 series of Intel's Core 2 Duo marks the arrival of the 1333 MHz front side bus.

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