Formally stated, Newton's third law is: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." In fact, it is true not only for the mechanics but also for our real every-day life. Without going deep into the philosophical roots of this statement, we would like to note that the competition in the processor market follows this principle very precisely. If one of the manufacturers starts the production of a new product, the competitor hurries to introduce their own alternative solution. And the examples of this situation are right in front of us. For example, last year 2005 ended with the introduction of the new Intel processor for high-performance and expensive systems – the Pentium Extreme Edition 955, which didn’t have any analogues in the AMD processor line-up at that time. As a result, the new year 2006 had to begin with a launch of an AMD CPU targeted for the same market segment. This is exactly what happened. So, our today’s article will be devoted solely to the new AMD solution – the new Athlon 64 FX-60 processor.
I have to point out that Athlon 64 FX-60 appeared similar to Pentium Extreme Edition 955 not only from the price and positioning point of view (for details about the new Intel CPU see our article called First Look at Presler: Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 CPU Review). Following into Intel’s footsteps, AMD decided to push the dual-core processors into the top market segment in 2006, therefore the new AMD processor is based on the dual-core architecture, unlike the previous Athlon 64 FX CPUs. The use of classical single-core architecture in the fastest processor solutions that are of primary interest to extreme gamers has been more justified last year, when the applications (especially games) were not very well optimized for multi-threaded processing. However, things have changed dramatically during the last couple of weeks. Both leading graphics chips developers, ATI and NVIDIA, have released the drivers supporting dual-core processors, which turned out quite efficient for systems built with dual-core CPUs and provided a noticeable performance improvement. Therefore, the transfer of Athlon 64 FX processor family to the dual-core architecture is absolutely justified at this time. Moreover, you shouldn’t forget that the working frequency of the dual-core AMD processors is not that much lower than that of their single-core counterparts. And it means that even in those few tasks that do not create any multi-threaded workload Athlon 64 FX-60 will not be frustratingly slow.
The dual-core newcomer from AMD works at 2.6GHz core clock rate, which is the same as the working frequency of the single-core Athlon 64 FX-55, which has been the most attractive processor for the gamers and enthusiasts throughout the entire 2005. In the new year, when the new Athlon 64 FX-60 takes over the stage, its predecessor will have to leave for good. So, the top price range in the AMD CPU line-up will be formed by the single-core Athlon 64 FX-57 working at 2.8GHz and a dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60 working at 2.6GHz. The clock frequency of both these processors is higher than that of any other Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 CPUs. So, the performance of the new Athlon 64 FX-60 will anyway be higher than that of any other AMD processors, maybe with only one exception of Athlon 64 FX-57.
However, our primary goal today is to compare the performance of the competing processor solutions against one another. Therefore, in this article we will compare the new Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU not that much against the single-core AMD processors, but mostly against the dual-core Intel processors based on the new Presler core. I would also like to stress that top-end Presler based CPUs have proven pretty successful, as they had no direct competitors for quite some time. Higher clock frequency and larger L2 cache of Intel’s dual-core processors as well as their transition to finer production process guaranteed increased performance on the one hand, and higher overclocking potential on the other. Being the direct competitor to Intel’s top CPU on the Presler core – Intel Extreme Edition 955, Athlon 64 FX-60 has only higher working frequency than that of the Athlon 64 4800+ to offer. Will it be enough for the newcomer to defeat Intel’s competitors in the majority of applications? This is the main question we are going to answer today in our new review.