The long-awaited launch of the new reincarnation of AMD Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX processors for the Socket AM2 that will allow using DDR2 SDRAM is scheduled to take place at Computex 2006 that will be open in Taipei, Taiwan, in June. Note that the first mainboards for Socket AM2 designed by AMD’s partners will be demonstrated already at the European CeBIT show in March 2006.
AMD is expected to launch two dual-core CPUs for Socket AM2 on June 6, 2006: Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and Athlon 64 FX-62. Both processors will be based on F core revision working at 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz respectively. This way, the new AMD core will not only acquire DDR2 memory support, but also will increase the frequency potential of the dual-core AMD processors without switching to new production technology. Just as the previous E core revision, the upcoming F core revision will still be manufactured with 90nm SOI process.
Despite the massive rebranding of the competitor’s processors, AMD will continue using "Athlon 64 FX" and "Athlon 64 X2" trademarks for its CPUs.
Here I would like to note that most of the solutions for Socket AM2 will start sampling in the end of this month already. AMD’s server partners will get their hands on the first Opteron samples for Socket F starting with April 30th , and the retail models will be available for pre-ordering on April 15th . Looks like the first shipments of new Opteron processors will go solely to the server makers.
Moreover, the sources report some technical insider details on the new F core revision, which is also known as Windsor (dual-core) and Orleans (single-core). Here are some pictures of the dual-core F stepping die:
Note that the new die is of bigger size and features higher transistor count: the die size increased from 194 sq.mm to 220 sq.mm , while the transistor count grew from 233mln to 243mln (for the dual-core processors). Single-core CPUs have also grown bigger: the die size increased from 106 sq.mm to 126 sq.mm and the number of transistors – from 120mln to 129mln. Here we are talking about the Athlon 64 or Opteron with 1MB L2 cache.
It is important to point out that the L2 cache size has become slightly smaller: it used to be 82.8 sq.mm and now it is only 77.4 sq.mm . Since the cache memory capacity remained the same, I dare assume that AMD will be using more compact SRAM memory cells in the new processors, which will automatically result into higher density of the L2 cache. Now L2 cache takes 39% of the die, and in the new F revision it will only occupy 30%.
The photo shows clearly that the two halves of the L2 cache are moved slightly away from one another so that there is a small gap between them. It is supposedly some kind of interface that serves for data exchange between the cores, so that the data could be transferred faster from the cache of one core to the cache of another one. And keeping in mind that DDR2 memory is known for higher latencies, this is a very timely innovation. By the way, the memory controller has also grown bigger by about 8%.
The F core stepping processors are expected to be able to control the core frequency within the Cool’n’Quiet technology implementation. At least, it will be possible to almost completely disable the second core in idle or standby mode.
One of the most interesting things about the new processors is their heat dissipation. Dual-core CPUs with F core stepping and up to 2.6GHz frequency and 2x1MB L2 cache will boast maximum 89W TDP. The today’s processors with similar technical specifications demonstrate 110W TDP at 2.2-2.4GHz core clock rate. Although one of the recent Athlon 64 4400+ modifications with 2.2GHz clock speed boasts 89W TDP.
AMD managed to reduce the power consumption by optimizing the transistor leakage current. The priority task here was to reduce the power consumption, and not to grow the clock speeds. As a result, they managed to "adjust" the 90nm process in such a way that they could really save some power at the same working frequencies. However, the dual-core Athlon 64 FX-62 (2.8GHz) processor will feature 125W TDP, which is higher than any of the today’s AMD CPUs have.
The Vcore of the new F core stepping can be selected individually for each processor line-up. If you need to reach higher working frequencies, you can set Vcore to 1.35V. If you can limit the speed to 2.6GHz, 1.21V on the core would be more than enough. This way they will be able to design Opteron models with lower power consumption that will at the same time work at pretty high speeds.
F core stepping processors will support Pacifica visualization technology and Presidio data protection technology, which will require new chipsets and BIOS updates for the mainboards. Only the budget Sempron processors will have no Pacifica support. HyperTransport bus frequency for Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 and Opteron processors will remain equal to 1GHz, and Sempron CPUs will support 800MHz bus.