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Athlon 64 X2 4800+: First Look

We managed to get our hands on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ sample, which is the top model in the dual-core processor family from AMD so far. This processor looked very similar to the predecessors. In fact, it was only the marking that distinguished it from Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 for Socket 939:

Although Athlon 64 X2 is a regular Socket 939 processor, which should be compatible with most Socket 939 mainboards, it doesn’t yet work with many mainboard models because of no adequate BIOS support. The only mainboard we managed to have this CPU work with just fine in our lab was ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe. They have already released a special technological BIOS version for this board supporting Athlon 64 X2. However, it is evident that once AMD dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors appear in the market the problem will be resolved.

You should note however that the new Athlon 64 X2 processors work perfectly well in single-core mode in any mainboard without the necessary BIOS update. It means that without the BIOS update our Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor worked like Athlon 64 4000+.

The CPU-Z utility doesn’t provide complete info about the new Athlon 64 X2 yet, although it does recognize it.

Although CPU-Z detects both cores, all the info it displays about the cache memory refers to only one core.

Before we get into details of the new processor performance tests we decided to take a closer look at its thermal and electrical parameters. At first we compared the temperature of Athlon 64 X2 4800+ with that of other Socket 939 processors. For our experiments we used an AVC Z7U7414001 air cooler. The CPUs were warmed up with the help of S&M 1.6.0 utility, which turned out compatible with the dual-core Athlon 64 X2.

In idle mode Athlon 64 X2 is slightly hotter than Athlon 64 CPU on Venice core. However, despite two cores, its temperature doesn’t exceed that of the single cores solutions manufactured with 130nm technology. Moreover, the same picture can be observed in the burn mode, too. Athlon 64 X2 loaded to 100% appears cooler than Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX based on 130nm cores. So, AMD engineers managed to achieve acceptable level of heat dissipation for their dual-core CPUs thanks to lower Vcore and E core revision.

During our investigation of Athlon 64 X2 power consumption we decided to compare it not only with the single-core Socket 939 processors but also with the power consumption level of the top-of-the-line Intel solutions:

Strange as it might seem at first glance, but the power consumption of Athlon 64 X2 4800+ appears lower than that of Athlon 64 FX-55. However, the explanation is very simple: Athlon 64 FX-55 is based on the old 130nm core, so there is nothing strange about the obtained results, actually. The main conclusion we would like to draw here is different: the mainboard compatible with Athlon 64 FX-55 can also support dual-core processors (speaking about the voltage regulator power). In other words AMD is absolutely right stating that almost the entire infrastructure required for successful integration of the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors into the contemporary market is already there.

Of course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the overclocking potential of the new Athlon 64 X2 4800+. Unfortunately, the technological BIOS for the ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard supporting Athlon 64 X2 doesn’t allow changing the processor Vcore and its clock frequency multiplier. That is why all our overclocking experiments were carried out at the nominal processor Vcore. We simply increased the clock generator frequency.

During our experiments we managed to raise the generator frequency to 225MHz and the CPU remained stable. It means that we have actually managed to increase the working frequency of AMD’s dual-core processor to 2.7GHz.

We managed to increase the working frequency of our Athlon 64 X2 4800+ CPU by 12.5%, which seems to be a pretty good result for a dual-core processor. So, it indicates that the frequency potential of the new Toledo core is close to that of the other revision E cores: San Diego, Venice and Palermo. We can say that the result of our overclocking tests gives us some hope that we will one day see even faster processor models in the Athlon 64 X2 family, before new production technology hits the road.

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