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AM2 motherboard owners rejoice, AM2 has a long future

AMD has released details of its next-generation desktop CPU interface, Socket AM3, to its OEM partners.  In a mildly surprising move, AMD has revealed that AM2 will accept AM2 or AM3 (also dubbed AM2+) CPU packages.  Additionally, recent roadmaps have confirmed that AM3, AMD's upcoming desktop CPU socket, will not be backwards compatible with AM2-package CPUs.  Roadmaps and memos have also confirmed that this AM3 package will be for AMD's "K8L" architecture, and not for the upcoming 65nm AM2 Brisbane CPUs scheduled for launch this December.

The most recent AMD roadmap is also very clear to state AM3 "supports either DDR2 SDRAM or DDR3 SDRAM, but not on the same motherboard."  This is great news for upgraders, as there is a very clear upgrade path: CPU, motherboard, and then memory.  This also infers that AM3 CPUs will have both DDR2 and DDR3 support on the integrated memory controller.  DDR3, like DDR2, has 240-pin, but the two formats are not pin-compatible.

As we also mentioned earlier, Greyhound will be the first desktop processor to support HyperTransport 3.0. Part of the specification for HT-3 is backwards compatibility with older revisions of HyperTransport, and the forward compatibility of the AM2 socket confirms that.  However, it’s important to mention that even though AM3 CPUs will work in the AM2 socket, HT-3 allows for 5.2 Giga-transfers per second, while current AM2 motherboards top out at 2.0 Giga-transfers per second.  Even though the additional headroom is likely not completely necessary, quad-core CPUs will certainly benefit from the additional bandwidth to additional CPUs or co-processors.

There is no word yet on the number of pins the new socket will require, but since AM2 sockets are forward compatible with AM3 CPUs, we can at least deduct that AM3 will have fewer than 940 pins.  Furthermore, since Socket AM2 is forwards compatible with AM3 CPUs, it is also safe to say that AM3 is not a land-grid array (LGA) socket.  AMD will switch its Opteron platform to an LGA-1207 socket on August 1, 2006.  AMD has not announced when Socket AM3 will be released, although since it would be the first HT-3 "ready" socket design, it seems likely that K8L and AM3 for the desktop will launch simultaneously.

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Any word on the release date for socket AM3 chips?
By Furen on 7/6/2006 1:28:02 AM , Rating: 5
The more important question, in my opinion, is when we'll start seeing AM3-packaged chips. K8L does sound interesting but this makes me wonder just WHEN we'll see it released, since I doubt AMD will introduce a new socket less than a year after introducing an old one.

Since AM2 can drive AM3 chips I suppose releasing AM3 packaged chips does not mean that we'll see the motherboards out at the same time. This could lead to an interesting socket/CPU phasing: socket AM2 can drive AM2 and AM3 chips, so socket AM3 could, for example, drive AM3 and AM4. This would make sockets compatible with two "generations" of chips but would require the memory controller(s) to drive two different memory standards (which is the only reason why AMD would have to change sockets). Also, releasing AM3 chips that can drive both DDR2 and 3 (and plugs into both AM2 and AM3) means that AMD can change memory standard as soon as it wants to, without worrying about making its past processor lines

By AnotherGuy on 7/6/2006 1:39:07 AM , Rating: 2
I still think this forward compatibitality is in favor of the consumer though... besides the details.... especially if u look at it with the mainstream EYE... like huge companies that decide to upgrade only their cpus... hmm does this ever happen in the real world though?

By Furen on 7/6/2006 1:54:31 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it's great for OEMs too, since current AM2 designs will be able to work with any chips AMD makes in the forseeable future. HT3 is not a huge benefit for single-socket (maybe even dual-socket) sytems, and OEMs will have the choice of dropping the same AM3 chips into cheapo DDR2 systems or high-end DDR3 systems, just like on the Intel side.

By Wwhat on 7/6/2006 9:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
You forget AMD's new HT-socket for addoncards for the HT bus, which means it needs bandwidth/lanes (and a new mobo).

If it is so simlar, why call it AM3?
By KHysiek on 7/6/2006 2:16:23 AM , Rating: 2
I don't get it.

RE: If it is so simlar, why call it AM3?
By Furen on 7/6/2006 2:21:47 AM , Rating: 2
Because it can also work with DDR3 and HT3, in addition to DD2 and HT 1.5.

By Tsuwamono on 7/6/2006 8:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
faster CPUs aswell i heard.

By mendocinosummit on 7/6/2006 10:29:31 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt that AM3 will be compatible with AM4. AM4 will most likely be LGA. At least it should be. AMD needs to unify its production even more to save money.

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