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While Advanced Micro Devices is shipping its 90nm processors to customers at present, the company’s higher-end chips targeted for introduction later this year may still be made using mature 130nm Silicon-on-Insulator technology.

4000+, FX-55 Shipping to Partners

Pictures of AMD Athlon 64 4000+ and AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processors located at a Chinese web-server have been posted in a forum thread of AMDZone web-site. Availability of such pictures may mean that AMD is sampling its processors that are expected to be formally introduced in Q4 2004 with some makers of computer mainboards or computers, if the microprocessors’ photos are not fake ones.

Besides product pictures, the forum member who remained anonymous has also placed screenshots from CPU-Z software revealing technical information about the AMD Athlon 64 4000+ and AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 central processing units. It appears that the model 4000+ will be clocked at 2.40GHz, contain 1MB of L2 cache and sport dual-channel memory controller, fully copying specs of the currently shipping AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 processor for Socket 939 infrastructure. The FX-55 product will also have dual-channel memory controller, 1MB of L2 cache, but will function at 2.60GHz, bringing new performance heights to Sunnyvale, California-based AMD.

AMD Athlon FX microprocessors are positioned as top-of-the-range offerings from Advanced Micro Devices and are usually opposed to Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors. While the architecture of the Athlon 64 FX is the same compared to the Athlon 64, e.g. the chips can execute the same software, including 64-bit software, the chips feature large 1MB level-two cache as well as dual-channel memory controller, bringing some additional speed bumps for the chips that cost approximately $800 today. Typically AMD has only one “FX” part in the lineup: when the FX-55 is released, the FX-53 will be quickly removed from the list of shipping parts.

Both chips are marked according to today’s nomenclature - ADAFX55DEI5AS and ADA4000DEP5AS – that is fully described at AMD’s documentation. Apparently, both chips are made using 130nm process technology and are based on CG revision of the Athlon 64 “ClawHammer” core.

Specifications Mixed Up

Earlier this year some believed that the Athlon 64 processor model 4000+ would be manufactured using 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator process technology and will be based on the Winchester core that is also supposed to ship this quarter. The specs of the 4000+ were reported to be 2.60GHz core-clock, dual-channel integrated memory controller and 512KB of L2 cache.

AMD could not immediately respond to enquiry seeking for comments.

Does 130nm Has More Scalability Headroom?

Even though thinner manufacturing processes typically allow chipmakers to make their products work faster in terms of frequency, Intel Corp. run into some scalability issues with its 90nm products earlier this year. On the other hand, AMD has always been very cautious with estimations of scalability for its 90nm products that only started to ship in volume in mid-Q3, around two quarters after Intel’s 90nm chips left the fabs.

Since AMD firstly transits more simplistic parts to 90nm process technology now, the 90nm core that is likely to power the future Athlon 64 FX processors is currently projected to emerge in Q2 2005, which requires AMD to continue shipping competitive products made using 130nm in high-end desktop and server markets till then.

According to unofficial sources, AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-57 processor at 2.80GHz made using 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator process technology will be released in Q2 2005. By the time the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 hits the market, the Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker is likely to launch its Athlon 64 4000+ (Q4 2004), Athlon 64 4200+ (Q1 2005) and Athlon 64 4400+ (Q2 2005), sources said.

It is unclear whether AMD will also make its Athlon 64 4200+ model using 130nm process technology. From technical standpoint this will not be too difficult, as 2.60GHz core-clock, likely speed for the part, would have been conquered by the AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 that is a 130nm part by then.

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