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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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RE: Picky picky
By psychobriggsy on 7/6/2006 6:47:13 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, apart from situations where the AM3 motherboard has DDR2 memory slots, where you'll never be able to upgrade to DDR3...

Of course the CPU cost is going to be the same as Motherboard + RAM, it just means you can split your upgrade into two separate purchases, that coincidentally advantages AMD (upgrade your CPU sooner than you would have otherwise).

I guess AMD should be applauded for trying to make the next generation processor socket backward compatible, even if the socket change is coming around quite quickly. I also guess that there will be a *lot* of AM3 + DDR2 motherboards initially, when DDR3 memory costs a lot and isn't showing an advantage.


RE: Picky picky
By Furen on 7/6/2006 7:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
There's no benefit at all to making an AM3 motherboard that uses DDR2 since AM2 will run AM3 chips AND current AM2 K8s. I think we'll see AM3 chips hit the market en-masse but AM3 motherboards in very limited quantities (if at all), so the ultra-high end will be able to jump on DDR3 ram while the more-budget-concious can stick to DDR2 (basically so Intel can't have the "DDR3 advantage" like it did with DDR2 for so long).


RE: Picky picky
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 7/6/2006 9:11:34 AM , Rating: 1
Intel is going down the FB (Fully Buffered) memory path, AMD doesnt seem to be following.


RE: Picky picky
By coldpower27 on 7/6/2006 11:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
Well not exactly, they are going FB-DIMM for servers which is based on DDR2 technology. AMD is going to give the user the option so they say and support both Registered DDR2 and FB-DIMM's.



RE: Picky picky
By saratoga on 7/6/2006 2:11:28 PM , Rating: 2
FB increases latency (even more over DDR2/3) but allows you to have more DIMMs. Its a great tech for servers since it allows people to have 6 or 8 DIMMs per chipset (or Opteron in AMD's case) without having too larger of a performance hit.

Its not clear that it will ever be on the desktop since most people don't seem to need more then 4 DIMMs on a consumer level board and probably wouldn't want to have higher latency and cost to get it even if they wanted 8 DIMMs.


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