A Look At AMD's Socket AM2 Platform

The Memory Game Gains Traction

The anticipation surrounding AMD's upcoming Socket AM2 platform is amazing to witness. On the one hand, there is hardly a secret about it that had not been discovered months ahead of the product launch, so there is discussion of it all over the place. On the other hand, the enthusiast crowds are eager for the new platform, which will be associated with important changes in the PC world; these include the introduction of Microsoft's Vista operating system and AMD's first quad core processors. However, AM2 has not been about being better or faster until lately.

It is equally amazing to see everybody anticipating the change in generation, although the switch to DDR2 is not expected to make a great difference in performance by itself. As our benchmarks show, going from DDR400 to DDR2667 with current silicon would not make a noticeable difference at all, because the integrated memory controller suffers more from relaxed memory timings than it can gain from speeding up clock speed via DDR2. Whether the current engineering sample processors actually suffer from a memory controller bug is hard to say. This could also be due to information that was released intentionally to prevent people from doing early benchmarking.

In order to make the new platform more attractive, AMD cannot sit back and rely on the expected attractiveness of 1 and 2 GB DDR2 DIMM pricing. It needs higher memory speed in order to provide additional performance value, while maintaining lower speed DDR2 as an option for budget computers based on the Sempron. Although the June 6 launch will be somewhat late, it still is within the projected Q2 time frame, and would allow the launch to go hand-in-hand with a good DDR2-800 memory supply. Let's also not forget that Intel is going to introduce DDR2-800 support at around the same time as well...