Articles: CPU

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The transition of the enthusiasts’ favorite Athlon 64 processors to the new cores manufactured with 90nm production technology started over half a year ago. The 90nm K8 Winchester core is now widely used in Socket 939 Athlon 64 processors with the 3000+, 3200+ and 3500+ performance ratings, and in Socket 745 Sempron processor family. However, Winchester didn’t manage to completely oust the 130nm cores from the previous generation Athlon 64 processors.

There are multiple reasons for that but the major one lies with the insufficient frequency potential of the Winchester core. Even though it boasts much lower power consumption and heat dissipation than its 130nm predecessor, the maximum actual working frequency of the processor based on Wi8nchester is only 2.2GHz. That is why the top Athlon 64 models as well as Athlon 64 FX-55 with 2.4GHz and 2.6GHz core clock rate are still based on the old Newcastle and ClawHammer cores manufactured with 0.13micron technology.

However, AMD is going to announce the discontinue program for its Athlon 64 processors based on the cores manufactured with outdated production technologies beginning this April. Since the time the first Winchester based processor came out, the company engineers have done great work. They designed a new 90nm core aka Venice (E3 revision), which should send old 130nm cores to the garbage heap of history. Big hopes pinned upon the new core are based on the fact that AMD starts introducing new production standards used specifically for the Venice core.

As a result, this new core should not only allow replacing the Winchester in slower Athlon 64 CPU models and adding new functionality to these processors, but also should come to take the place of the Newcastle and ClawHammer cores in the fastest modifications of this processor family. Moreover, the arrival of Venice sets green light to the release of even faster Athlon 64 processor models. In the near future AMD is expected to announce new Athlon 64 4200+ and Athlon 64 FX-57 processors based on Venice and San Diego cores (San Diego is an analog of Venice but with larger L2 cache).

So, even though this time AMD decided not to make a big event out of the new core release, we could not disregard this important fact, opening new horizons for the further development of the Athlon 64 processor family. Especially, since higher frequency potential is not the only advantage of the new core. Besides that it also provides Athlon 64 processors with SSE3 instructions support, which has been a prerogative of the competing CPUs from Intel since the launch of the Prescott core last year. That is why we decided to write this article devoted to all the details of the new Athlon 64 processor core.

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