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Evolution of Dual-Core AMD Processors

Dual-core AMD processors have very long history. The first CPUs were made back in 2005 under Athlon X2 brand name. And although it may seem surprising, many modifications of AMD’s dual-core processors that have been manufactured since then are still up-to-date enough and selling in stores. Speaking of these long-living but yet contemporary solutions, we first of all imply Socket AM2 Athlon X2 processors from 5000 and 6000 series that still use K8 microarchitecture and are manufactured with 90nm and 65nm technological process as well as Athlon X2 7000 series processors based on 65nm cores with K10 microarchitecture. Now that Athlon II X2 and Phenom II X2 CPUs on contemporary 45nm cores have joined the gang, it doesn’t mean that old Athlon X2 solutions will immediately disappear from retail. Dual-core CPUs on K8 microarchitecture still remain in the current company price list.

Therefore, it is fairly easy to follow the evolution of dual-core AMD processors: most representatives of different Athlon X2 generations haven’t yet become history. You can clearly see it if you follow the major milestones in the evolution of the AMD Athlon X2 family. The following table lists all specifications of the major processor cores that are compatible with the existing Socket AM2 form-factor:

So how did AMD benefit from this multi-stage improvement of their solutions that are, in fact, part of the same exact platform? How much faster will the new Athlon II X2 and Phenom II X2 processors be than the good old 90nm and 65nm cores that have already stood the test of time? Trying to answer these questions we tested all five processor types listed above at the same frequency of 3.0GHz forced for all of them.

Progress never stops. AMD has been gradually improving the performance of their processors with each new core (except Brisbane). As a result, the today’s top of this evolutionary chain – Phenom II X2 CPUs – are about 25% faster than the first Athlon X2 for Socket AM2 working at the same clock speed. The biggest performance boost occurred when they switched to K10 (Stars) microarchitecture. However, the new CPUs on 45nm cores do not lose their face either. The new Athlon II X2 can outperform Athlon X2 7000 series processor on Kuma core working at the same clock frequency by almost 7%, while Phenom II X2 increases this advantage by additional 11%.

In other words, the launch of new dual-core processors manufactured with contemporary 45nm process not only allows AMD to increase clock frequencies further up, but also raises the performance bar for mainstream processors due to microarchitectural improvements and larger cache memory.

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