Athlon 64 FX-57: Great Performance, High Price

Finally, 90 nm Process And 300 mm Wafers

At 115 mm², the 90 nm San Diego core of FX-57 is 41% smaller than the 193 mm² Clawhammer die. It is not hard to imagine that just shrinking the cores to 90 nm enables AMD to considerably boost the production volume. Together with the switch from 200 mm to 300 mm wafers at Fab 36 in Dresden (located next to Fab 30), AMD should be in a much better position to supply larger CPU quantities than before. There is another advantage when taking a look at the dual core Athlon 64 X2: this chip has a size of 199 mm² and thus is slightly smaller than Intel's Pentium D or Pentium Extreme Edition at 206 mm².

A BIOS Update Enables FX-57 Support

Most motherboards that already support Venice and San Diego processors (see the table on the following page) should be able to run the FX-57, but may display the wrong processor name. However, all important motherboard manufacturers should be ready with updated BIOS versions by today; if not, they should be coming very soon.

More FXes Now

The Athlon 64 FX-55 will not retire; AMD is going to provide more than one FX model.

At the very beginning, AMD positioned the Athlon 64 FX as one of the most powerful and exclusive processors for high-end gaming and professional applications. To emphasize this "exclusiveness," only one FX model was made available at a time. The first was the Athlon 64 FX-51 at 2.2 GHz, which was quickly phased out with the release of the FX-53 at 2.4 GHz; the same thing happened with the FX-55 and its predecessor. This time, however, things will be different.

According to AMD's public relations specialist Damon Muzny, there is market demand for Athlon FX processors at different price points. Consequently, the FX-55 will not be discontinued. However, AMD's pricing policy is quite confident, as there will be no price cuts for FX-55 despite the introduction of the new model; instead, the FX-57 will be introduced at an even higher price point. In quantities of 1,000, the FX-55 will remain at $827 while the FX-57 will be available at $1,031. This is even more expensive than Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium, which has always been $999 in quantity. In exchange, customers will be sure to have the fastest single core processor available.