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Review: AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 10 January 2006, 04:45


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AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

So we know it's dual-core, we know it's faster than Athlon 64 X2 4800+, but what about the rest of it? Here are the vital statistics.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Specification
Number of cores 2
Frequency 2.6GHz, per core
L1 caches 64KiB data, 64KiB instruction, per core
L2 cache 1MiB, per core
System link HyperTransport, 1 link
2000MTs/sec, 1000MHz
Memory controller Dual-channel, DDR400/PC3200, 128-bit
Process technology and fab 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator
AMD Fab30 Dresden, Germany
Transistor count and die size 233.2 million, 199mm²
TDP and ICCmax 110W, 80A
Operating voltage range 1.30V - 1.35V

The FX-60 shares the same transistor count, caches and cache organisation, processor technology and core revision as the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+, confirming it as having the same 'Toledo' core as that dual-core processor. What marks it apart is the 2.6GHz clock speed, versus the 2.4GHz of the 4800+, and the slightly lower operating voltage range of 1.30-1.35V, versus 1.35V-1.40V. It goes faster on less voltage, essentially.

The processor has the same thermal envelope (110W), meaning the same coolers can be used. Under Cool 'n' Quiet, the AMD power-saving technology applied to its consumer processors, the processor drops to 1.2GHz per core with multiplier adjustment, running from just 1.10V. We'll come back to that later.

Being a current E6 revision of the X2 core, badged as FX, it supports all three SSE instructions sets, x86 and x86-64 (otherwise known as AMD64, the company being the originator of the de-facto standard for 64-bit computing in the consumer space).

The processor fits into the same 939-pin socket as all high-end Athlon 64 processors have, ever since the switch from Socket 754. The extra pins in that switch facilitate a double-wide, dual-channel DDR memory controller, which the FX-60 has the latest revision of. That means support for four sticks of memory at the maximum DDR400 speed, best use of available memory space (introduced first with the 'Venice' revE single core) and supports for DIMMs of different sizes per memory channel.


The astute among you will have noticed that the 2.6GHz and 1MiB of L2 per core make the FX-60 effectively a pair of FX-55s on the same CPU, in the same socket, sharing a memory controller and system link to the outside world. That sums it up nicely. While sharing a memory controller and system link will reduce absolute performance compared to two 2.6GHz, 1MiB chips each in their own socket with their own memory controller and DIMMs, we all know how well AMD dual-core processors can run in that situation.

We mentioned earlier that, given the 110W thermal spec, coolers that effectively keep the X2 4800+ happy will be fine with the FX-60. That also extends to coolers designed for FX-55 and FX-57. The 104W and 110W TDPs of those single-core SKUs mean that their own validated thermal solutions will extend to the FX-60. Nice to see AMD keeping power and heat in check over the last 14 months or so, despite the significant increases in performance.

As to why the FX-60 isn't a 3GHz single core product, we can but speculate. It's obvious that their 90nm process technology could probably see them debut such a chip at sane voltage and power, likely with the same coolers we've just discussed, using the best cores they have available. However, the 3GHz figure raises expectation with the consumer that the company will follow through with the rest of the 3GHz range, on towards 4GHz.

Secondly, the company is moving down the road of hardware multiprocessor and thread-level parallelism in its CPU products, server, workstation and mainstream consumer alike. Multi-core, including their current dual-core processors, are where it's going to be at for the forseeable near to mid-term future.

So it's 200MHz slower than the 2.8GHz single-core Athlon 64 FX-57 in external CPU frequency, but there are two cores. Remember the, "better"? Exactamundo. Let's talk a bit more about the CPU including a look at the chip in the flesh, chatter about thermals and using the FX-60 in a modern Windows PC, before we move on to the performance results.