Advanced Micro Devices is rumoured to prepare affordable processors for its recently unveiled Socket 939 infrastructure. At the same time as the move may have positive impact on AMD’s financial report, mainboard makers may not salute the decision, as mainboards supporting the latest infrastructure have not been tailored for mainstream customers.
Socket 939 – High-End Chips’ Infrastructure
AMD Athlon 64 processors with 939 pins that were released officially on the 1st of June, 2004, integrate 512KB of L2, only a half of the size incorporated into the previous 754-pin chips, but take advantage of the very efficient dual-channel memory controller that is likely to decrease the impact of cut-down cache and even improve performance of 939-pin chips over 754-pin processors with 1MB on-die secondary-level cache, which is why CPUs in different types of packaging does not have similar model numbers at equal clock-speeds. The AMD Athlon 64 FX parts continue to have 1MB of L2 after the transition to Socket 939.
One of the other advantages AMD64 processors in PGA939 packaging provide is faster 1000MHz HyperTransport bus that connects central processing units to other parts of the system. Previous AMD Athlon 64 chips used 800MHz HT bus.
PGA939 Targets Mainstream?
AMD currently has three PGA939 products: AMD Athlon 64 3500+, AMD Athlon 64 3800+ as well as AMD Athlon 64 FX-53; all are targeted at the high-end of the market. Additionally, there are unofficial indications about the AMD Athlon 64 3600+ processor for Socket 939, though, the chip is also not likely to be affordable.
Sunnyvale, California-based Advanced Micro Devices typically offers lower-speed bins of its chips for newly unveiled infrastructure a couple of months after the infrastructure becomes available. Some sources this week said that AMD would drive the lineup of Socket 939 AMD64 chips down to the 3000+ model number, or to the segment of about $200 per chip shortly.
“At AMD, we do not give out details of unannounced product specs or launch dates as a rule. But you can certainly expect a wider range of AMD processors for the 939-pin socket in the not-too-distant future,” a spokesperson for AMD told X-bit labs.
Mainboard Makers’ Reaction Unclear
Currently mainboard makers aim their Socket 939 mainboards at the high-end of the AMD64 market equipping them with variety of features usually desired by enthusiasts and hardcore gamers, such as improved processor power circuitry, Gigabit Ethernet, RAID and some others. At the same time, mainboard makers offer numerous advanced mainboards for Socket 754 infrastructure equipped with a set of pretty expensive capabilities.
Since PGA939 chips are faster compared to PGA754 products it is unclear how the market will react on different chips. In case power-users prefer affordable products for Socket 939, mainboard makers who still have high-end Socket 754 may have to slash the prices on such products to sell them to Socket 754 market that is resigning from the high-end, which is likely to be negative for mainboard makers’ books.
On the other hand, AMD may target its mainstream PGA939 chips for emerging PCI Express market, as those who prefer AMD64, but want to get a PCI Express platform, should have given a choice to get a reasonably priced processor.
Mainboards for AMD64 processors supporting PCI Express bus are expected to emerge in Q4 2004.