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Closer Look

We managed to get the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ processor from one of the retail stores, although, unfortunately, it was slightly overpriced and was selling for $150. However, this is still a total newcomer at this time, so the retailers are trying to benefit a bit more from selling this “fresh and exclusive” new product. Hopefully, the prices will go down soon, since from the formal prospective this Athlon 64 X2 3600+ is seriously behind Athlon 64 X2 3800+ selling for $152: although they both work at the same clock speed of 2.0GHz, Athlon 64 X2 3600+ features half the L2 cache per core: 256KB.

At first glance this CPU reveals a lot of interesting details about itself:

Take a closer look at the marking. ADO3600IAA4CU line indicates that this processor belongs to energy efficient type. The typical heat dissipation of Athlon 64 X2 3600+ is 65W. In fact, there is nothing strange about it: It is fairly easy for the manufacturer to reduce the Vcore of the youngest processor in the family to 1.2V-1.25V. However, this small effort pays well: the CPU immediately falls into the unannounced energy efficient category offering attractive performance-per-watt that has become very common criterion since the launch of Intel Core 2 Duo. Moreover, since AMD is selling its Energy Efficient processors at a slightly higher price than the regular CPUs, Athlon 64 X2 3600+ becomes a very attractive offering, especially against the background of 65W Athlon 64 X2 3800+ officially selling for $176.

Also the processor marking indicates that the total L2 cache size is 512KB. In other words, Athlon 64 X2 3600+ is the first and so far the only AMD CPU featuring 256KB of L2 cache per core. From this prospective, it could have been also called Sempron X2, at least there are single-core Sempron processors with 256KB L2 cache in AMD’s product line-up. However, AMD is going to officially introduce dual-core Sempron processors only when they switch to 65nm mass production in 2007. Therefore, in the meanwhile the new processor that turns out very similar to the dual-core Sempron will be selling under the “Athlon 64 X2” brand name.

The diagnostic CPU-Z utility recognizes the Athlon 64 X2 3600+ quite correctly:

The screenshot doesn’t hide any surprises. The processor clock frequency is really 2.0GHz, and the cache memory is half as big as that of Athlon 64 X2 3800+. The L2 cache is designed exactly as by any other AMD processor. And it means that AMD may be building Athlon 64 X2 3600+ on the same semiconductor dies that they use for the “fully-fledged” Athlon 64 X2 by simply disabling half of their cache. In other words, the launch of Athlon 64 X2 3600+ allows AMD to put to good use some of the dies with partially non-operational cache memory.

You can actually see from the screenshot that Athlon 64 X2 3600+ uses the same die as any other dual-core Socket AM2 processor: the processor we had at our disposal is based on the traditional Windsor revision F2 core. Of course, the use of the same dies for Athlon 64 X2 3800+ and 3600+ allows AMD to reduce the production costs and hence to offer more attractive retail prices. As a result, AMD should be able to drop the prices down to the desired $100 mark for its youngest Athlon 64 X2 processors by the end of the year.

Here I would only like to add that Athlon 64 X2 3600+ processor is assigned to the Athlon 64 X2 family, and not Sempron, because it supports DDR2-800 SDRAM, which is currently the prerogative of AMD’s top processor family.

Summing up everything I have just said, let me offer you a list of formal specifications of the new Athlon 64 X2 3600+ processor that are still absent even on AMD’s official web-site:

Athlon 64 X2 3600+

Marking

ADO3600IAA4CU

Frequency

2.0 GHz

Packaging

Socket AM2

L2 cache

2 x 256 KB

Memory controller

128-bit, dual-channel

Supported memory types

DDR2-533/667/800 SDRAM

Hypertransport bus frequency

1 GHz

Core stepping

F2

Production process

90 nm, SOI

Transistors

153.8 mln.

Die size

183 sq.mm

Typical heat dissipation

65 W

Maximum case temperature

72o C

Vcore

1.20 - 1.25 V

AMD64 technology

Yes

NX-bit

Yes

Cool’n’Quiet technology

Yes

 
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