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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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AMD succeed in taking DDR2 to K8, with an integrated memory controller that's both very high bandwidth and low latency, allowing AM2 CPUs to match or exceed the performance of their Socket 939 counterparts. That's the important conclusion to take from the CPU side of things when considering AM2 as a whole.

Platform wise, nForce5 (590 SLI in this case) was more than a willing host, in our opinion providing the speed and features that should definitely make enthusiasts considering AM2 sit up and take notice. Software wise, nTune 5.0 impresses and the whole 590 SLI proposition is a strong one, even if boards might initially be expensive. Should boards be bug free from the beginning with all advertised features working, it's hard not to like what NVIDIA have done. Thumbs up for that, whole-heartedly, and we look foward to the nForce5 board testing and comparison with competing AM2 core logic.

The multiple SKU, same product code idea is a good one. It works well for Opteron and providing packages are clearly marked both physically and online at e-tailers, the small price premium to pay for an EE or EE SFF is good value for the TDP decrease. We'll have more on pricing and the like in a separate piece to come soon. We'll link from here when that's ready.

So given the above, you have to conclude that -- with the socket being use for all consumer CPUs from now on -- things are pretty rosy for this particular platform transition. DDR2 memory prices are such that it's only marginally more expensive to pick up an AM2 system of similar performance to one you'll spec up on S939, mainboard pricing equivalency somewhat assumed.

The only thing holding us back from saying, "yeah, AM2 rocks, jump jump jump!" is Conroe/Core 2 Duo in the near term, and K8L in the longer term, for the enthusiast. For the monied PC supporter, wisdom says current high-end AM2 isn't a massively golden investment, which we'll show you with a raft of Core 2 Duo numbers coming very soon on HEXUS. I've seen them; they make current K8 look silly in a number of places.

K8L-wise, where that new architecture revision looks set to beef up the execution core of current K8 to largely match what Conroe is bringing to the table, that's something else to consider. It'll use the AM2 socket, so there's merit in moving to AM2 in that respect, since there's a clear upgrade path, but performance isn't clear as yet and the mainboards around now might be thoroughly outclassed by the mainboards around when K8L shows up.

For people shopping in the mid-range and low-end, we'll cover AM2 performance versus Intel and Socket 939 competitors in due course, once we're set on the pricing side, where that variable has more of an impact in where money is spent, price/performance wise.

To sum up: if you absolutely must have the latest and greatest and Core 2 Duo doesn't seem like your thing (and it's well known what it's like by now, especially given the early numbers we posted here), then FX-62 and AM2 take current x86 and x86-64 performance to new levels. But we do ask you check out our upcoming Core 2 Duo benchmarks before you buy.

We'll answer the other pertinent questions later, with more analysis in the mid-range and low-end. NVIDIA have those bases covered with other nForce5 SKUs, which we look forward to reviewing, given 590 SLI's good initial showing.


AMD Socket AM2: Athlon 64 FX-62 and nForce5 590 SLI - HEXUS.core
Foxconn - AM2 mainboard at CeBIT 2006 (part of the massive HEXUS.CEBIT 2006 show coverage)
NVIDIA debut EPP memory standard HEXUS.core

External - Definitions:
DDR2 SDRAM - Wikipedia

Manufacturer Links:
Foxconn - Mainboard home page
NVIDIA - SLI home page
NVIDIA - 500-family core logic at CeBIT 2006
Intel - Core 2 family home page

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At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If AMD's representatives choose to do so, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.

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