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The King of the Hill

The processor manufacturers seem to have a liking to mountain climbing. The next height has been conquered by AMD with its Athlon 64 FX53 (2.4GHz frequency). It is based on the same CG revision, I mentioned above. At this moment, this processor allows AMD taking the lead in the race for the highest-performing CPU – until the competitor issues its own new product. Interestingly, all testers note the fact that this processor can be easily overclocked to about 2.6GHz with its standard cooling. In other words, AMD can offer an Athlon 64 FX55 even today.

Note also that although Opteron 1xx series processors and Athlon 64 FX ones are very close to each other, similar Opterons of the 150, 250 and 850 series haven’t been announced. AMD may probably be waiting for the next Xeon 3.6GHz to answer with a volley of new models for the server market. That’s quite understandable position – why open you trumps before the right time? The launch of this processor may also be called for if the new Xeon shows improved speed characteristics.

Then AMD will have to create another gap in performance, since the performance advantage and better capabilities of Opteron processors are the force that makes third-parties manufacture Opteron-based servers. Thus, if the new Xeon 3.6GHz with 1MB L2 cache will make a breakthrough in performance, AMD will also release its new CPU. Otherwise, the launch of the new Opteron will be postponed till about Q3. And if the new Xeon turns to be very fast, Opteron processors of both x50 and x52 series will “suddenly” come out, clocked at 2.6GHz. They won’t be many with the current 130nm+SOI tech process, but enough for a start. As far as I know, there’s no deficit of Opteron CPUs in the market – AMD’s production facilities can meet the demand.

AMD will now concentrate its efforts on the transition to the 90nm+SOI technology to reduce the manufacturing cost and increase the processor output. It’ll depend on AMD’s technologists if this transition goes smoothly. By the way, the work of the technologies commands respect as one and the same Fab30 in Dresden simultaneously produces Athlon XP processors (with the 130nm technology) and Athlon 64/Opteron processors (with 130nm+SOI technology, which differs much from the previous one) and they are also mastering the 90nm+SOI process at the same time. I can’t think of another such example when three manufacturing technologies are thus mixed together. Of course, the technologists have to make such feats because of the lack of fabricating facilities, but anyway.

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