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Review: AMD Socket AM2: Athlon 64 FX-62 and nForce5 590 SLI

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 23 May 2006, 05:00


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Ask AMD why launch Socket AM2 -- the hub of a platform shift that sees them standardise on a socket for their CPUs across their entire desktop product line -- now, and they'll largely lay it at the feet of the DRAM vendors. You see AM2 is part of what helps AMD bring DDR2 support to their desktop CPU line, moving away from DDR for the first time in a number of years and rocking up alongside Intel in what's hot, memory wise, for the desktop.

When AMD first tested working Rev F (the core revision for the first AM2 CPUs), the DDR2 memory available didn't give the CPU what it needed to usefully match or beat what was available on Socket 939, at least not without spending a good chunk of money on the best DDR2 around at the time. Speeds needed to go up a notch, latencies could do with coming down and, as the DRAM vendors brought the requisite production on line, prices needed to drop.

Forecasting forward, they saw the DRAM chips falling nicely (pun intended) in the middle of 2006, around about Computex time. With the IT industry's premier trade show bare weeks away, it's now time for them to lift the lid on their socket and platform plans for desktop Athlon and Sempron.

It's a heady tale of core performance, bandwidth, competition, performance and much more. It's played out on a stage of dual-core 90nm SOI silicon and our hero is Athlon 64 FX-62. Can he defeat his nemesis, Presler? What of the Conroe whispers if Presler is yet again slain? Do the AMD architecture witches brew something even more potent in their cauldrons?

On the platform side, NVIDIA is a launch partner for AM2, debuting nForce5 to a watching world. Is it a worthy chariot for AM2 CPUs to ride around in, and more importantly what's new compared to nForce4? Often we see core logic being the driver for a PC purchase, moreso than the CPU that provides the calculating brain. Is nForce5 therefore capable of doing what nForce4 did for Socket 939?

Dozens of questions to be answered across a somewhat lengthy initial analysis here on HEXUS. I hope you'll stick with me through the thick and thin to find out, so please join us on this, the first leg of our -- and your -- AM2 journey.

As a word to what else you'll see here on HEXUS in terms of AM2 coverage, look out for turnkey system evaluation, mainboard analysis and much more as we chew our way through what we've got. Onwards.