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AMD Socket AM3 reference design overview.   (Source: ChileHardware, AMD)
As AMD looks forward at DDR3 implementations, motherboard manufacturers begin rolling out designs

Reference plans for motherboards based on AMD's desktop AM3 processors are already starting to mature. Socket AM3 is the successor to AMD's Socket AM2+, and is not expected to make an official release until 2008.

Current AMD guidance suggests its AM3 processors will be compatible with existing chipsets. AM2 processors, however, will not be compatible with AM3 motherboards. This same guidance claims AM3 processors will work with AM2+ motherboards.

The initial reference boards that support AM3 processors will be based on an AMD RS780 northbridge and an AMD SB700 southbridge. The northbridge and southbridge communicate with each other via a 4X PCIe lane. The northbridge communicates directly with the CPU using a HyperTransport link.

The RS780-based AM3 reference boards will feature 12 USB 2.0 ports along with 6 SATA II ports. For audiophiles the board also features integrated AZALIA HD Audio.

Also making its appearance for the first with AM3 will be DDR3 memory support. Since AMD places its memory controllers directly on its processors, the DDR3 DIMM slots will communicate directly with the processor using a 128-bit bus. According to current AMD reference posted at ChileHardware, there will be a total of four DIMM slots. 

AMD has not publically announced DDR3 support for its Phenom or Barcelona family processors.  Previous roadmaps indicate that DDR3 support will likely come with its 45nm shrink next year, but the company has also confirmed DDR3 will be present on the Bulldozer CPU architecture.

The RS780 AM3 chipset will also come with integrated graphics. The AM3 reference boards will feature a VGA and HDMI connection, along with a TV-out composite cable that features S-Video along with HD TV-Out.  This is only a reference design, so there is no guarantee these features will pan out in production products.


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Finally
By ted61 on 11/12/2007 3:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, an AMD article with no reference to Intel or Nvidia.

I hope DDR3 drops in price because there is no way I can upgrade to a DDR3 MOBO at todays prices. It would be nice if AMD can get back to pushing Intel for performance gains that I don't really need. I just like to have them.




RE: Finally
By pattycake0147 on 11/12/2007 3:30:09 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
AMD can get back to pushing Intel


The Article doesn't mention Intel so you take care of it:-)


RE: Finally
By clovell on 11/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: Finally
By DallasTexas on 11/12/2007 3:57:02 PM , Rating: 1
It doesn't mention Intel because by now it's a given that Intel has creamed AMD top to bottom. It's now about if AMD will ever come out with anything marginally interesting.


RE: Finally
By clovell on 11/12/2007 4:03:47 PM , Rating: 1
wow, do you feel better after that?


RE: Finally
By Regs on 11/12/2007 4:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about him but I would like to vent as well. AMD preps, but when it comes time to release they seem to push everything under the rug. What was once a 2.6 Phenom is now a 2.4 Phenom and a 2.2 Phenom. It's like everything that comes from AMD is now discredited. Like this article.

I think he had a valid point even though worded as a frustrating feud as we all are at AMD right now.


RE: Finally
By clovell on 11/13/2007 3:59:20 PM , Rating: 1
Well, I'm there in that number, but I don't use it as justification for the writers here continually beating AMD with the Intel stick in every AMD article. I swear in some of those articles, I've come away with more info on Intel's lineup than AMD's.


RE: Finally
By DallasTexas on 11/12/2007 8:13:48 PM , Rating: 3
I feel terrific. Thanks for asking.


RE: Finally
By clovell on 11/13/2007 3:56:24 PM , Rating: 1
Hey, anytime - just try take it easy, you could stroke.


RE: Finally
By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. Intel has not creamed AMD in the bottom or low end, which is where most system sit as-sold. You will have to overclock, something the average owner does not do, for there to be significant difference in the low end.


RE: Finally
By DallasTexas on 11/12/2007 8:11:53 PM , Rating: 1
You're right. AMD has locked up the bottom feeder category of buyers quite well. I agree with you.


RE: Finally
By Spuke on 11/13/2007 12:30:38 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
You're right. AMD has locked up the bottom feeder category of buyers quite well. I agree with you.
Oh yes, the bottom feeders category! The one's that buy all of those Dell $549 machines. The one's that bought those $98 HD-A2's. The one's that keep EVERY single corporation in business and enable us, the geeks, to brag about our OC'd QX6850's.

Cause you and I both know that the geeks keep the market running!!!! The last time I checked, Walmart makes more money than Newegg so guess who runs the market in reality.


RE: Finally
By HVAC on 11/13/2007 11:06:13 AM , Rating: 5
....you need to reload now...you gave him both barrels....


RE: Finally
By knipfty on 11/14/2007 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 2
That's right. AMD is losing money on every low end CPU they sell, so they try to make it up on volume...


AM2+
By shraz on 11/12/2007 3:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
What's the difference between AM2 and AM2+? I only see one MB on newegg for AM2+. It says it can take a phenom.




RE: AM2+
By Zurtex on 11/12/2007 3:35:55 PM , Rating: 5
AM2+ supports HyperTranpost 3.0, Split Power Planes and potentially a couple of other small features of the Phenom CPUs that AM2 doesn't.

AM2 mobos will need a BIOS update to support AM2+ CPUs, that in principle is the only difference. It's also highly likely that AM2+ board will feature newer chipsets from either AMD or nvidia, thus providing some performance or 'ease to use' benefits.


RE: AM2+
By clovell on 11/12/2007 4:16:57 PM , Rating: 1
> It's also highly likely that AM2+ board will feature newer chipsets from either AMD or nvidia, thus providing some performance or 'ease to use' benefits.

Good news - I never cared much for the nForce 5 series...


RE: AM2+
By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:02:54 PM , Rating: 2
If considering the processor, it's integral memory controller, the memory, the bus speeds all as constants, then it is not expected there will be significant performance benefits unless you mean higher margins for overclocking the busses.


RE: AM2+
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/12/2007 3:37:08 PM , Rating: 3
The 790X chipset is the only AM2+ chipset out right now, and the embargo is still "on" for places that signed up for that kind of thing (not us).

All of the Phenom-generation chips out there are AM2+. I believe they work in AM2 boards with a BIOS update, but you're running at a slower HyperTransport and without the split powerplane.

November 19 is the embargo date, so I'm sure we'll see a bunch more between then and now.


RE: AM2+
By Brazos on 11/13/2007 12:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
My old socket A system died so I'll be doing a major upgrade when the AM2+ boards get released. I may not buy a Phenom right away due to cost but we'll see when released.


DDR3
By Etern205 on 11/12/2007 3:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
With ridiculious pricing for the DDR3 right now.
AM3 boards are better off if they can first implement DDR2 and once DDR3 prices drops then go with DDR3. The support for DDR3 is there, but that does not mean they have to use DDR3 right from the start.




RE: DDR3
By afkrotch on 11/12/2007 4:50:53 PM , Rating: 1
You can simply stick with AM2+. I think the purpose of AM3 is to usher in a new lineup of procs with memory controllers for DDR3. It'll be less confusing than having an AM2 proc that can use DDR3. Also less potential of someone taking an AM2 DDR2 using proc and dropping it into an AM2 DDR3 motherboard, then frying something.

Luckily when I upgrade I just need a new mobo and memory. Advantage of not having a memory controller on the proc.


RE: DDR3
By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:05:09 PM , Rating: 4
There's not much point in that "upgrade" if you're only replacing motherboard and memory.


RE: DDR3
By afkrotch on 11/18/2007 8:05:15 AM , Rating: 2
Sure, because having the possibility of getting more memory slots, more pci slots, more sata ports, more usb ports, better onboard sound, and many other items that could be on a new motherboard vs their old board. Maybe even get a board that has overclocking options or better overclocking options.

Not everyone needs a new processor to make use of a newer motherboard.


Manufacturers need to be more responsible....
By Darkk on 11/13/2007 12:51:27 AM , Rating: 3
The biggest trend right now is power savings and going green. I am curious as to why Intel keeps changing the socket designs in short period of time forcing people to buy new motherboards. What happens to all those old motherboards? Most people would take them to get it recycled or upgrade an older system. Still, it's a mountain of waste in materials and money if Intel keeps doing this.

AMD is good about keeping compatibility long as they could without killing off performance of the newer processors on older motherboard. This gives us the opportunity to keep older motherboards going before upgrade is necessary.

I have to wonder why couldn't motherboard manufacturers offer dual memory slots to work either DDR2 or DDR3? Is that much of a design change for AM3 can't work with DDR2 at all? Guess I will wait awhile before upgrading to AM3 / DDR3 platform simply because it's too expensive right now. I'm sure others will agree.




By afkrotch on 11/18/2007 8:31:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are a bit confused here. Intel has only been on 2 sockets for the past like...7 years. LGA775 and Socket 478.

AMD on the other hand has been on Socket A, Socket 754, Socket 940, Socket 939, Socket F, AM2/AM2+, and now AM3. That's within the same time period as Intel.

AMD do something different with AM3 procs though. It'll have a memory controller that supports both DDR2 and DDR3, so AM3 procs will work on AM2 boards, but AM2 procs won't work on AM3 boards. I think they did this, cause ppl were getting pissed about all the Socket changes and inability to get a new proc. I think the worse time was when Athlon 64s first came out on S754 and within months of each other we had S940, then S939.

Most ppl don't bother with dual memory type motherboards cause they suck. They work perfectly fine for regular joe schmoe who doesn't build his own computer, let alone even knows what is inside it, nor care that it's not the fastest available computer on the market. Course joe schmoe isn't building his own computer, just buying it from Dell or HP. They just don't sell all that well, so few companies have an incentive in making them.


AM3
By psyph3r on 11/12/2007 6:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
i look forward to this..here's a article that covered the leaked image earlier this week that is now confirmed.
http://www.fastsilicon.com/latest-news/am3-referen...




blah blah blah
By mindless1 on 11/14/2007 5:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
If you've been around here for awhile, you had sufficient notice that AMD would move to AM3 socket, it's not as if you can legitimiately complain now if you bought something without bothering to check on it's upgradability later.

I suppose the lesson that should be learned from all of this is, if you paid a premium for a board so much that you can't part with it, that was your foolishness. It's crazy to pay over $150 for a motherboard and under that ceiling, yes you'll have to give it up anyway if you want a sigifnicant performance boost from an upgrade within a couple years' time,

Hint: You don't really NEED to be on the cutting edge of performance, the games you desperately hope to play will still be around 12 months later and you'll save thousands of dollars being patient instead of being on the edge.




Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By SpaceRanger on 11/12/07, Rating: -1
RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By Zurtex on 11/12/2007 3:31:32 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, because all LGA775 mobos work with all LGA775 CPUs very well ¬_¬

And it's probably worth noting that AM3 will probably be coming out over 2 years after AM2. And give that AM2+ and AM2 are intercompatible, it's hardly worth kicking a fuss over.

It's also worth noting that AM3 is likely to come out at roughly the same time Intel's new socket will be coming out and that won't be backwards/forwards compatible in anyway with LGA775.


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By Parhel on 11/12/2007 3:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, Intel is no better than AMD in that regard. Case in point, I purchased an Intel DP35DP motherboard recently. I downloaded and read the manual for the board before I purchased it and it said it supported "all socket 775 processors." Great, I thought, I'll use my old P4 with it and buy a new processor when the 45nm ones come out. I ended up having to buy a new processor immediately since the P4s are not supported. So, not only is Intel not supporting their older processors on newer board, but they apparently have forgotten that some of then even exist.


By MrTeal on 11/13/2007 12:40:45 AM , Rating: 3
If I were Intel I'd probably be trying to forget Prescott existed, too.


By mendocinosummit on 11/12/2007 3:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't mean that new processor's will work in an older LGA775 socket.


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By KingstonU on 11/12/2007 3:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
This point has been brought up countless times.

So many Socket LGA775 owners wishes this were true, unfortunately it wasn't and whenever a new LGA775 CPU was released, though it was the same socket, required certain changes (I believe to the motherboard) that meant your new LGA775 CPU did not work on your old LGA775 motherboard.


By Polynikes on 11/12/2007 4:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
I wish it were true, I've only had my current LGA775 mobo a year and Penryn won't work in it. :\


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By akugami on 11/12/2007 3:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Aside from needing updated chipsets (meaning motherboard incompatibilities) for some newer CPU's. But it is true that Intel has been using the same socket for a while.

Let's face it, if I need to get a new motherboard due to chipset incompatibilities to go from a P4 to a Core 2 Quad, then I might as well have gotten a new socket with it. At least from an end user point of view.

And I'm not saying this just to crap on Intel about the chipset thing. I am currently using an Intel C2D in my main rig with an EVGA 680i mobo.

Basically even if it's the same socket, if it requires a new chipset to upgrade to the latest cpu, it might as well be a new socket. I would love if it if a socket could last for 5+ years needing nothing more than a BIOS update to plug in the latest cpu.


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By Omega215D on 11/12/2007 4:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that the motherboards needed to be able to handle the different power requirements of the processor which a BIOS update usually can't do.

At least with AMD there is some backward compatibility as the newer processors can run in an older motherboard


By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
There is no need for a bios update to support different power requirements, only to design a board to be more flexible than the current generation CPUs support including addt'l power detection and delivery pins reserved for future use.

They're not interested in doing this because it would add to the design and construction cost just to allow the customer to spend less. It is amazing how quickly technology advances and how well the costs are kept low in order to support the typical consumer PC which is not continually upgraded over it's lifetime. Unfortunately we are the minority.


By fleshconsumed on 11/12/2007 4:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair old 775 motherboards are not compatible with new 775 C2D CPUs, so technically that's equivalent to a socket change because if you want to use new CPU you have to get new board. And I'm not even mentioning ever increasing FSB from 800-1066-1333, which is not a bad thing performance wise, but it still forces you to use new motherboard most of the time except where manufacturer chooses to issue BIOS update. All in all, unless you're buying faster CPU from the same generation you pretty much have to get new board anyway.

But yeah, AMD is changing sockets as fast as Intel now. 754, 939, AM2/AM2+ (these two should be intercompatible) and now AM3.


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By afkrotch on 11/12/07, Rating: -1
RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:16:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So if I wanted to move to DDR3, I can simply buy DDR3 and a new motherboard. I can reuse my old proc.

Intel's old motherboards may not support the future, but their new motherboards can support the past.


There is no good reason to want to move to DDR3. The processor is the more cost effective and higher performance ceiling part to replace, as well as bus, HDD, video bottlenecks. On the contrary now is the time to buy a boatload of DDR2 memory given how cheap it has become, not throwing out DDR2 to pay a premium for DDR3. There just aren't many uses where memory bandwidth matters without concern for the rest of the system particularly the processor.

That old motherboards don't support the future but new do is exactly opposite of our needs since nobody buys a new board to run an old CPU but many want the large performance increase of being able to run a new CPU in an older board, especially the convenience of not having to mess with the (Windows) OS installation caused by switching boards.


By afkrotch on 11/18/2007 7:35:34 AM , Rating: 2
Umm...so no one bought a new AMD board to get PCIe, while reusing their old processor? Intel didn't give you such an option. You had to get a new processor and memory to get PCIe, cept for those very few boards that supported PCIe and Socket 478 procs.

There are also many reasons to upgraded to a new board, not just because of performance. How about going from mATX to ATX? Old motherboard only has 2 memory slots?

I personally upgraded my server to a new motherboard, while sticking with the old processor. Why? It had a 3.06 ghz P4 in it, but it was using Rambus (fastest memory for P4s during the time). I moved it off the old Asus P4T533 to an Asus P4P800-E Deluxe. Went from 1 gig of memory to 2 gigs for less cost than buying more Rambus.

There are times where getting a new motherboard isn't all about getting a new processor. It could be about getting new features. I'd like to move off my Asus P5W DH Deluxe, just because it's not a capless design. I really do not want to go through the hassle of having my rig down for a few days, while I replace caps. Had to do that with my old Abit IC7-Max 3.


RE: Why the need for ANOTHER AMD socket???
By teldar on 11/12/2007 9:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
Only problem with that last statement is that their new boards DO NOT support all their old processors. They support some of them, but not all of them....


By afkrotch on 11/18/2007 7:57:36 AM , Rating: 2
Only time I've seen compatability issues was the Smithfields. Even then, Intel had the i945, i955, and i975 that they said will work. All the rest below them were hacked my mobo manufacturers to get the Smithfields to work on them. Like the i865 and i875 made to work with Smithfields.

But hey, if you can give me a good example of a new Intel chipset and an old Intel proc not working together, please do so.


By Myrandex on 11/14/2007 4:01:25 PM , Rating: 1
lolz do you even know how to read? I know some good reading tutors in case you need it. There were plenty of people stating that they bought new LGA775 boards, that even claim to support every single LGA775 CPU out there, but then the truth gets out and they don't support older LGA775 CPUs...

At least AMD supports every CPU released on a socket all of the time with their Athlon64 line...If I have a socket 754 board & chip, I know that they will be compatible. Same with a Socket 939 cpu & board. And that is the problem with an on die memory controller.

If the sockets were all the same and some noob took an Athlon64 w/ DDR2 support and plugged it into a DDR1 board, he would fry everything then go complain to his mom that he can't read the instructions just like you can't read articles or do research...


By psyph3r on 11/12/2007 5:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
Well, simply because intel still depends on the frontside bus and every time a new memory type has come out AMD has to put a new memory controller on the die. DDR1,DDR2, and now ddr3 with the AM3. at least the AM3 also has a ddr2 memory controller as well so they will work in older amd motherboards


By Amiga500 on 11/13/2007 4:59:32 AM , Rating: 3
AMD group match their sockets to CPUs that will actually work with that socket.

Intel just use the same socket, dupe the customer into buying a new CPU or mobo... find out it doesn't work, and force them to buy a corresponding mobo or CPU.

I know which approach I prefer, and its not Intels.


By borismkv on 11/13/2007 3:34:46 PM , Rating: 1
You've obviously not experienced the joy of having to find a processor that is compatible with the Intel board you just bought so you could actually boot the computer to flash the BIOS so you could use the processor you bought at the same time as the motherboard. This happened to me *far* too many times for me to be happy about it. Yet, every AMD I've worked with has been pretty much plug and play. I'd rather the compatibility be set in hardware than in some obscure, non-controllable BIOS setting like Intel seems to enjoy doing.


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