AM2: AMD Reinvents Itself

Conclusion: Good Energy Efficiency, But A Bad Value For Money

AMD is introducing the AM2 platform onto the market and presenting many new processors to go with its new socket. The main argument for the switch is the launch of DDR2 memory, which the competition has already supported for some time. For the user, almost everything's new: processor, heatsink, mainboard and memory. In some cases, the graphics card and hard drive may need to be upgraded as well, to support the latest standards (PCI Express and Serial ATA respectively).

Nothing has changed in the line-up of the fastest x86 processors. Well-heeled users who want the best will find the once-and-former performance king, the Athlon 64 FX-62. However, there's a catch: at 2.8 GHz there's virtually no room for overclocking, as our comprehensive benchmarks show.

AMD has emphasized the importance of energy efficiency for years and it comes out clearly better than Intel again. Especially in the partial load range, the Athlon CPUs are very thrifty, because they automatically lower voltage and clock speed. Special versions of the Sempron and Athlon (labeled "EE") shine with much-reduced power consumption; they come at a higher price, however. In terms of maximum power consumption, almost the same situation prevails at the top of the premium league: the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 and Intel Pentium EE 965 output 125 W and 130 W respectively.

With Socket AM2 the (OEM) customer now has the option of DDR2 memory from AMD too. In theory, that should produce a higher memory bandwidth, which in practice is only achieved by the expensive top processors. Compared to "old" DDR memory-based platforms, the bulk of AMD's CPUs cannot benefit from the higher bandwidth of the DDR2 memory. A closer analysis of the benchmarks even reveals a marginal performance deficit when pitting the "new" against the "old". It's clear that DDR2 memory only begins to pay off at higher clock speeds of 2.4 GHz and above. And that in turn affects only the CPUs from the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ that have a price of at least $600.

Comparing the low-priced Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.0 GHz, 2x1 MB L2 cache) with the Intel Pentium D 950 (3.4 GHz, 2x2 MB L2 cache) costing the same, we do see a performance advantage of up to 20 percent.

The AMD generation has finally reached its long-cherished goal of at least matching Intel on prices. The neutral observer could come away with the impression that the price screws were turned a little too tightly with the switch to AM2. The cost edge that AMD had in the end-consumer market of up to 30 percent has disappeared. If potential customers remember that, they will quickly lose their laboriously won market share. AMD must act, even though the choice between AMD and Intel, particularly among end consumers, is more a matter of credo than anything else.

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  1. The AMD Generation Comes Of Age
  2. New Socket AM2 With DDR2
  3. Memory Speed: Socket AM2 Vs. Socket 939
  4. Write Performance
  5. Write Performance, Continued
  6. Write Performance, Continued
  7. Memory Speed: AMD Vs. Intel
  8. Memory Speed: AMD Vs. Intel, Continued
  9. The Divider Problem
  10. DDR2 SLI Memory: 10.3 GB Per Second
  11. Automatically Overclocking SLI Memory
  12. Automatically Overclocking SLI Memory, Continued
  13. All New AM2 Processors
  14. The New Socket AM2 With 940 Pins
  15. New Retention Module Requires New Heatsink
  16. Low Dissipation Guaranteed
  17. New Energy-efficient Processors
  18. Heatsinks: Things Gets Louder, Continued
  19. Features: Virtualization And TCPA
  20. Price Comparison: AMD More Expensive Than Intel
  21. Motherboards
  22. Gigabyte
  23. Epox
  24. The New nForce5 Chipset For AM2
  25. LAN Interface With 2 Gbit/s
  26. Test Setup
  27. Benchmarks And Settings
  28. Benchmarks Socket 939 Vs. Socket AM2
  29. Games - DirectX
  30. Games - DirectX, Continued
  31. Video
  32. Video, Continued
  33. Video, Continued
  34. Video, Continued
  35. Audio
  36. Applications
  37. Applications, Continued
  38. Applications, Continued
  39. Multitasking, Continued
  40. Synthetic Benchmarks
  41. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  42. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  43. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  44. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  45. Evaluating The Benchmark Scores
  46. Athlon 64 X2: Now Somewhat Slower
  47. Benchmarks AMD Vs. Intel
  48. Games - DirectX
  49. Games - DirectX, Continued
  50. Video, Continued
  51. Audio
  52. Applications
  53. Applications, Continued
  54. Multitasking
  55. Synthetic Benchmarks
  56. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  57. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  58. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  59. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  60. Synthetic Benchmarks, Continued
  61. AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 Vs. Intel Extreme Edition 965
  62. Conclusion: Good Energy Efficiency, But A Bad Value For Money
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