Thus, the most profitable thing to do is to transition the Athlon 64 FX processor to this platform in the first hand. By the way, this doesn’t mean the end of the Socket 939. I agree with the opinion that these platforms will happily coexist for some time (a year, at least). That’s reasonable since DDR2 won’t have a big advantage over DDR in terms of performance. They’ll also design mainboards in such a way as to provide support for DDR2-800 along with DDR2-533. As a result, DDR2-800 will give us 6.4GB/s per module. Supposing that the processor remains dual-channel, we have 12.8GB/s per processor. Well, that’s not bad, although we’re still sad about the missing XDR SDRAM.
Now that we’ve introduced a new platform, it makes sense to equip it with the new HyperTransport version 2.0 bus, moreover, as it is quite compatible with the current 1.05 version. I’ve mentioned above that the performance of the new version of the HyperTransport grows significantly, to 22.4GB/s, in the fastest variant.
Let’s also recall the rumors about AMD’s working on the next-generation processor, codenamed K9. That’s logical as the development of a new processor takes time (up to 4-5 years).
So let’s risk a supposition – the K9 CPU may be compatible with the newly-introduced Socket X. Moreover, this would be consistent with AMD’s traditional speeches about keeping up old investments. This would also be another factor for purchasing this platform. In fact, there can be even a more daring variant with K9 models for the Socket 939. Yes, the performance will be low on this platform, but why should they spurn some potential buyers of the new processor? So our suppositions make some sense.
I don’t guess what the K9 will be like from the inside. Probably, AMD will perfect the decoder of x86 instructions further. This means that the appearance of another pipeline (and, accordingly, execution of four macro-ops per clock cycle) is unlikely. They’ll surely take measures to increase the operational frequency of the processor and improve its performance in the 64-bit mode; it’s no secret many users hope for a speed gain from the 32-64-bits transition. Yes, extended address space and the NX bit are good, but the user wants to have a proof to his intuitive feeling “64 bits is more than 32 bits, so a 64-bit processor should be faster than a 32-bit one.” Meanwhile, that’s not quite so. For example, a 64-bit CPU performs some operations like multiplication slower than its 32-bit analog. It’s not because the processor is bad, but because it is more difficult to multiply two 64-bit numbers than two 32-bit ones. So it’s vitally important for AMD to boost the performance of its processor in the 64-bit mode.
This is how I view the future evolution of the K8 core. We’ll have to wait for confirmation or denial of these suppositions, though. The K9 is not likely to arrive sooner than in a year.
So, let’s wait and see if our suppositions are true. In any case, this year is going to be quite interesting as the two processor giants are very close to each other in technology. The number of announced innovations also promises some interesting things and events ahead.