AMD's AM2 processor die

AMD Athlon 64 X2 quick reference guide
AMD's desktop platform get a major overhaul

It is official, today is the day AMD will finally announce the AM2 platform for desktop processors.  AMD originally had plans to launch the chipset on June 6, 2006, but shortly after the announcement that Intel's Core 2 Duo processor would launch at the same time, AMD bumped the launch date up to May 23, 2006

AMD's AM2 platform consists of a new socket and pin-out for AMD's desktop processors. AM2 uses 940-pins, just like the existing Socket 940, but the the new pin-out means PGA-ZIF AM2 and PGA-ZIF Socket 940 processors are not compatible.  The major difference between AM2 processors and Socket 939/940 processors is the migration from DDR1 to DDR2.  Since the introduction of the K8 architecture in 2003, AMD has opted to place the memory controller on its entire line of desktop, mobile and server processors.  As a result, new AMD processors do not need complete motherboard revamps, but motherboard manufacturers still have to accommodate for much denser DDR2 pin-outs.

DDR2 was first introduced by Intel in June of 2004 when the company migrated from Socket 478 to Socket 775.  At the time, the cost premium between DDR2-533 and DDR1-400 was vast, and performance differences between DDR2 and DDR1 were virtually non-existent.  The cost of DDR2 has dropped dramatically in the last two years, but the important thing about the AM2 launch is that AMD's AM2 processors will support DDR2 speeds in excess of DDR2-800.  Coupled with the NVIDIA SLI memory initiative, we can realistically expect to see memory frequencies in the 1GHz range with AM2. 

AM2 is a unified platform, meaning high end Athlon 64 dual-core processors, low end single-core processors and everything in between uses the same socket design.  Previously, AMD split its desktop offerings over three separate platforms, Socket 940 for the ultra high end, Socket 939 for midrange and Socket 754 for low end.  This division of platforms severely hampered manufacturer ability to produce competitively priced motherboards. 

The major processors set for launch, the Athlon 64 FX-62 and the Athlon 64 X2 5000+, are both 90nm SOI processors produced at AMD's Fab 30 in Dreseden, Germany.  Like other Athlon processors, models alternate between 2MB and 1MB of L2 cache.  The smaller 1MB L2 cache processors (5000+, 4600+, 4200+ and 3800+) have just under 154M transistors on a 183mm2 Windsor die.  The 2MB L2 cache processors (FX-62, 4800+, 4400+ and 4000+) have approximately 227M transistors and have a 230mm2 Windsor die as well.  AMD is not distinguishing between the two cores with separate code names even though the one core has half of the cache disabled.   Single core Athlon 64 Orleans and Sempron Manila processors will also hit store shelves shortly.  A full list of SKUs is available at

AM2 processors will also carry all the trimmings one would expect to find -- SSE/2/3 and MMX support, Cool n' Quiet power management, EVP "data only" no-execute bits and AMD's Pacifica Virtualization technology.  AM2 will launch with 90nm SOI components only, but the company has already released roadmaps to produce 65nm SOI Brisbane processors by the end of the year. AMD's next major processor architecture after AM2 will be K8L, which was also just recently announced.

NVIDIA, ATI, SIS and VIA all have AM2 chipsets scheduled to launch with AM2.  Existing core logic will work with AM2, as evidenced by the number of motherboard manufacturers building nForce 4 AM2 motherboards. However, most manufacturers are opting for next generation instead.  NVIDIA plans to launch several chipsets tomorrow, including nForce 590 and nForce 570. ATI's RD580 will also make an appearance on the AM2 platform, with RD550 close by. VIA's K8T890 will be the dominant VIA Northbridge for AM2, and manufacturers already expect several models to ship this week or next. 

The existing 939-pin Athlon and Sempron processors will continue to hold some channel presence, but AMD roadmaps have already shown the company plans to phase out Socket 939 in favor of Socket 754 as a DDR1 solution. AMD is also beginning to phase out Socket 940 in favor of LGA DDR2 Socket F, which is expected to ship this July. 

AMD claims processors and motherboards should be available tomorrow, but most tier one motherboard manufacturers expect availability in early June instead to coincide with the original launch date.  Pricing for the new chips was revealed several weeks ago, which is still available on DailyTech here.

Just last week, AMD announced a lineup of Energy Efficient (EE) Socket AM2 processors.  The Energy Efficient AM2 processors are designed specifically for low-noise, low-heat systems -- which include AMD's Live! platform expected to launch on May 31st.  AM2 EE processors carry a small premium over standard AM2 processors, but run at very low voltages.

We've previewed a few AM2 motherboards on DailyTech already; here are links to a few of them:
Universal Abit KN9 SLI
Gigabyte AM2 Motherboard Launch Schedule
ASUS AM2 Motherboard Launch Schedule
MSI AM2 Motherboards
Epox AM2 Motherboard Launch Schedule

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