AMD Athlon FX-60's Dual-Core Assault

Intel's recent introduction of the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 has boosted Intel's reputation in the marketplace. This is due, in part, to the chip giant's new 65 nm process, which has helped to set a new performance threshold. However, Intel has only had a few days to bask in its glory: AMD's dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60, which is also AMD's last Socket 939 device, bests almost all of Intel's performance superlative claims, according to our benchmarks. The Athlon 64 FX-60 features include the integration of two processor cores into a single die, each of which has a 1 MB L2-cache, and a 2.6 GHz clock speed.

An added bonus for owners of decent socket 939 motherboards is that the Athlon 64 FX-60 represents a relatively straight-forward upgrade option. After replacing existing single-core chips, updating the motherboard's BIOS is all that is required. Adding an FX-60 (or a dual core Athlon 64 X2) can almost double the socket 939 CPU's performance.

Meanwhile, today also marks an interesting point in the Intel vs. AMD x86 performance war. Indeed, in many respects, the respective roles of the two CPU giants have been reversed. Instead of AMD, it is now Intel that is providing copious information about its future products, while updates from AMD have become increasingly rare.

Information about AMD's M2 platform launch that is slated for the second quarter, for example, is only available unofficially from motherboard vendors. Most of what we know is that the M2 platform is a 940 pin socket that is incompatible with Opteron platforms. The dual-channel memory controller will be upgraded to support DDR2-667. AMD's virtualization technology, called Pacifica, as well as the security instruction set Presidio will be added. The processor portfolio will be very complete, and per-unit prices will range from $100 to $ 1,000. What's still unknown is whether they will all be 65 nm parts and what their clock speeds will be.

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