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Socket AM2 Platform: Closer Look

Let’s take a closer look at the new Socket AM2 platform and its features other than DDR2 SDRAM support.

First of all, I would like to say that Socket AM2 is formally none other but a 940-pin processor socket. However, the new Socket AM2 processors are absolutely incompatible with the previous generation Socket 940 and Socket 939 connectors: neither from the logical nor from the electrical prospective. To prevent the user from installing the processors into the old incompatible mainboards, the engineers changed the pin-out of the new processors: the pin layout is completely different and the new CPUs will simply not fit into the old sockets.

The major advantage of the new Socket AM2 solution is that from now on AMD will have a unified platform for both: expensive dual-core and single-core budget processors. The same Socket AM2 mainboards will work with both: Athlon 64 X2 as well as Athlon 64 and Sempron CPUs.

However, the introduction of the new processor socket doesn’t bring the life cycle of the older socket types to an end. AMD promised to continue supporting and shipping Socket 939 solution until the user interest to this platform exists.

Socket AM2 also sets new requirements to the mainboards in terms of the CPU peak power consumption and heat dissipation. Although we have already said that new core Revision F processors can boast lower power consumption, the platform can now accommodate even more powerful processors than before. The peak current supported by the platform has now been raised from 80A we received on Socket 939 mainboards to 95A. As a result, this platform can work with processors consuming up to 125W of power, while the maximum power consumption of the Socket 939 CPUs was no higher than 110W.

Besides the powerful processor voltage regulator circuitry, new Socket AM2 mainboards have also acquired new cooler retention mechanism. Now the retention bracket pressed against the mainboard should be fastened with 4 screws instead of previously used 2. However, the locking slits on the bracket are exactly the same as in the previous case.

It means that Socket AM2 mainboards can allow installing old cooling solutions that used the default retention bracket. Those cooling systems that were fastened directly to the Socket 939 mainboard PCB will not fit onto the new platform without appropriate retention modifications.

 
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