It’s exactly one year since the first processor manufactured with 65nm technology was released. Intel pioneered the use of the new tech process on the borderline of the years of 2005 and 2006 with its Presler core that implemented the NetBurst architecture (for details see our article called First Look at Presler: Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 CPU Review). AMD had been traditionally lagging behind its opponent in mastering new manufacturing technologies and was still using its time-tested 90nm tech process with SOI. It could be noted that AMD had virtually exhausted the resources of that technology: it’s now about half a year since we last saw a considerable growth of frequencies of mass-produced CPUs with the K8 micro-architecture.
The announcements of Athlon 64 FX processors with frequencies up to 3GHz doesn’t contradict that fact because they are being shipped in very limited quantities and AMD can satisfy the demand by just culling chips capable of working at that clock rate. Thus, the Athlon 64 X2 desktop processor family could only progress further by utilizing new tech processes and AMD mastered mass production of 65nm semiconductor CPU dies, reporting success in early December. Right now Athlon 64 X2 processors on the Brisbane core, manufactured on the new tech process, are emerging in shops.
Besides the new manufacturing technology, AMD has also introduced 300mm wafers. Coupled with the smaller CPU die size, this should reduce the cost of the end-product. Perhaps this will give AMD some room for price maneuvering in its competitive struggle with Intel until faster CPUs with the improved K8L micro-architecture are ready to hit the market. Besides the cost factor, the Brisbane core will obviously allow to produce more energy-efficient processors. Hopefully, the Athlon 64 X2 will now be able to challenge the Core 2 Duo at least in terms of performance per watt. After all, the Brisbane doesn’t bring about any improvements in the micro-architecture and there seems to be no reason why we should expect a performance growth from the new processors.
We don’t want to theorize idly, but are going to test a new CPU from AMD in our labs. This review is about the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor based on the Brisbane core.