Advanced Micro Devices, the world’s second largest x86 processor maker, is set to introduce a new platform for its 64-bit processors in the very late March, sources close to the company told X-bit labs today. But the move will not be connected with PCI Express introduction, as it might be logical to assume.
The new platform, as revealed earlier, will feature Socket 939 for appropriate processors with dual-channel memory controller and up to 1000MHz HyperTransport bus. Currently partners of AMD are evaluating samples of 939-pin CPUs in order to get ready to start mainboard production in mid-February 2004 and initiate shipping actual products in mid-March 2004. The formal launch is arranged for the 29th of March, according to the sources who asked to keep their identity in secret.
To support new Socket 939 infrastructure, AMD also said to roll-out AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 processor, AMD Athlon 64 3700+ CPU and AMD Athlon 3400+ chip in the new packaging on the same date. The firm will also unveil Athlon 64 3700+ for Socket 754 platform in May as well as the Athlon 64 FX-53 for Socket 940 mainboards on the 29th of March, which is a later-than-expected date for the FX-53 processor.
AMD Athlon 64 processors with 939 pins will integrate only 512KB of L2, only a half of the size incorporated into today’s 754-pin chips, but will benefit from dual-channel memory controller that is likely to decrease the impact of cut-down cache. Since more advance memory controller is projected to compensate the absence of 512KB of L2, versions with equal model number for 939-pin and 754-pin sockets will work at the same clock-speed. The "FX" parts will continue to have 1MB of L2 after the transition to Socket 939.
2.40GHz is most probably the highest speed bin for all AMD chips in Q1, Q2 and Q3 as well as for the company’s 0.13 micron SOI technology. In Q4 the Sunnyvale, California-based firm will kick off its 90nm technology and will be in a position to launch AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 at 2.60GHz with 1MB L2 to serve the high-end market as well as AMD Athlon 64 4000+ at the same core-speed, but with 512KB cache, to fight for AMD in performance-mainstream segment of the market.
Even though Socket 939 platform gives a lot of advantages for AMD, the company will not discontinue Socket 754 immediately. For instance, in Q2 there should be only slightly above 10% of 939 platforms, while in Q3 their share will skyrocket to nearly 30%, by Q4 2004 AMD’s partners will prepare core-logic products with integrated graphics for 939-pin chips, what would allow the total share of Socket 939 platforms to exceed 40% among all desktop AMD64 platforms.
Unlike Intel, AMD does not think that PCI Express is crucially needed already in the Q2 2004. At least, sources close to the company anticipate PCI Express-supporting chipsets for AMD64 to emerge only in the third quarter of the year. Nevertheless, VIA Technologies may bring the technology to AMD market already in Q2, according to the recent interview with Ben Boyden from VIA. What we know for sure, is that AMD is not likely to launch PCI Express technologies in the late first quarter with 939 processors, though, in the best scenario there will be some PCI Express mainboards for AMD64 in Q2 2004, if VIA succeeds in executing its plans.
Officials from AMD did not comment on the story.