AMD preps launch of three FX processors for 4x4 platform


Chicago (IL) - AMD remains very secretive about its two-processor 4x4 platform, which aims to decrease the performance gap to Intel's dual-core and upcoming quad-core processors on the very high-end of the enthusiast PC segment. A new roadmap provides more insight in the firm's CPU plans for the next year or so - and indicates that AMD is collecting enough CPU supply to launch 4x4 on a broad basis.

There have been very few product launches by processor manufacturers lately that have been covered in as much smoke as AMD's highly anticipated 4x4 platform. System builders as well software makers who typically talk very open about such upcoming products deny to share their expectations from the AMD 2-CPU approach. There also has been some speculation recently that AMD may not be able to keep its promise and send enough 4x4 platforms into the channel to be part of the holiday frenzy this year.

A new roadmap obtained by TG Daily, however indicates quite the contrary and the suggests that AMD may be collecting enough supply of new and high-end processors to launch 4x4 almost as a mainstream product and become more available than Intel's quad-core processors QX6700.

4x4 is apparently well on track to be launched in November with FX processors that are based on the new 1207 socket and the 90 nm Windsor FX core. Samples already have been shipped and appear to be in mass-production at this time. The lineup consists of the FX-70 (2.6 GHz), FX-72 (2.8 GHz) and FX-74 (3.0 GHz). In the second quarter of 2007, AMD will add the FX-76, which will be the last 90 nm high-end desktop processor with a clock speed of 3.2 GHz.

Illustration of AMD 4x4

The Windsor FX CPUs will continue to use a 2 MB L2 cache package and will be rated at a thermal design power (TDP) of 125 watts, which - at least theoretically - puts a 4x4 platform at roughly 250 watts, or about twice the maximum power of Intel's Kentsfield (desktop) and Clovertown (workstation/server) quad-core processors. The currently shipping FX-62 and FX-60 will not support 4x4 and will be phased out by the end of this year.

The enthusiast segment will get more interesting for AMD once its "native" quad-core processors are available. While it is not expected that the single-die quad-core approach by AMD will not yield any substantial performance gains over a dual-die quad-core approach (Intel), AMD will be able to decrease power consumption to restore headroom for more clock speed. The quad-core chip code-named "Agena" will be segmented in more mainstream "Agena" processors and enthusiast 4x4 capable "Agena FX" chip.

Agena FX CPUs are scheduled to launch in Q3 of next year, will be produced in 65 nm, run at clock speeds between 2.7 and 2.9 GHz and incorporate 2 MB L2 and 2 MB L3 cache. The power consumption of these processors has not been determined yet, but is likely to remain at 125 watts for a single chip and considerably more 2-processor 8-core platforms. It is unclear whether AMD will keep the socket 1207 alive, as the current roadmap designates the Agena FX socket as "1207+". The regular Agena will be available with identical specifications but may also transition to a different "AM2+" socket.