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  Upcoming Intel and AMD processors, first looks. 
  Nov 04, 2005, 07:30am EST 

AMD’s new sockets and DDR2 support

By: Sander Sassen

AMD will not debut their 65-nm processors anytime soon, nor will they offer processors based on a whole new architecture in the near future. We can expect the Athlon 64 FX-60 in early 2006, which will be the first AMD processor to, officially, run at 3.0GHz, which will still be based on the 90-nm San Diego core. The Athlon 64 X2 will also see a bump in clockspeed to 2.6GHz, giving it an effective 5000+ rating. What’s more interesting to note though is that fact that both socket-A and socket-754 will be rapidly phased out due to the introduction of socket-939 Semprons. The biggest change for AMD will be in the 2nd quarter of 2006 however with the transition to DDR2 with a new generation of Athlon 64 processors that will feature a new built-in DDR2 compatible memory controller.

AMD's Athlon 64 processor, the most succesful AMD processor to date.

With the transition to DDR2 AMD also moves their Athlon 64 processor to a new socket called socket-M2. With exactly 940-pins this socket might sound like it'll accept the 940-pin Opteron processors but it won't as the new socket-M2 will not be pin-compatible nor have the same footprint as socket-940. The new DDR2 supporting single-core Athlon 64 processor goes by the Orleans codename and features 1MB of L2-cache whereas the dual-core is dubbed Windsor and features twice the amount of L2-cache. The Windsor core will also be used for AMD's Opteron processors, but will feature a different socket, socket-F, which carries an impressive 1207-pins. No details have been given yet as to what the function is of those extra pins, but an educated guess tells us it is probably there to enable dedicated memory banks per processor core. All of these processors will be manufactured using AMD's 90-nm SOI process, there's no mention of 65-nm so we most likely will not see any 65-nm processor from AMD in 2006.

In 2006 we'll also see the successor to Turion, AMD's mobile processor. Much like on the desktop we'll see DDR2 and dual-core support which is not surprising as AMD has to stay competitive with Intel's upcoming Yonah processor. AMD's new mobile processor carries the Taylor codename and, again, uses a different socket than Turion. There'll be two different sockets for Taylor actually, one to cater to sub-notebook needs, socket-S1, where space constraints demand a smaller processor package. Other notebooks will utilize the same socket-M2 we'll see on the desktop, also opening up possibilities for using desktop processors in notebooks. Despite that ability AMD will debut a new Mobile Athlon 64 based on the Windsor core, but optimized for power consumption, in 2006.

A die-shot of AMD's 130-nm Athlon 64 processor.

Overall both Intel and AMD are hard at work to lower their manufacturing costs by moving to 65 and 90-nm, which will also help to up performance and reduce power-consumption of their processors. Cedar Mill, Intel's 65-nm Pentium 4, will finally put the Pentium 4 on par with AMD's Athlon 64 in terms of performance, power-consumption and heat-production but is rather short lived with the pending introduction of Intel's new architecture. AMD will not make the transition to 65-nm in 2006 but will debut the first DDR2 compatible Athlon 64 processors that should offer a slight increase in performance over the current DDR compatible Athlon 64. In late 2006 things should get interesting again when Intel debuts their new architecture. On the mobile front Centrino Technology, based on Intel's Yonah processor will probably be the mobile platform of choice for 2006 unless AMD pulls a trick out of its hat with Taylor.

Sander Sassen.

1. Intel's new 65-nm processors
2. AMD’s new sockets and DDR2 support

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