The new tenth-generation microprocessors from AMD promise to increase performance because of micro-architectural improvements and the increased amount of processing engines. However, it appears that the new chips do hide some additional capabilities under the hood. For example, DDR3 support.
Advanced Micro Devices has always been conservative about new memory types support as each type of memory requires a brand new platform family and having several platform families for one processor is something that AMD cannot afford. However, this does not mean that the company’s chips cannot support new types of memory. Apparently, already now AMD’s latest processors feature DDR3 memory controller.
Technical documents that cover AMD’s latest microprocessors, such as quad-core AMD Opteron or AMD Phenom and their derivatives, reveal that the new built-in memory controllers can support both DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, provided that processors are installed into mainboards with DDR3 memory slots and appropriate BIOS.
According to roadmaps that AMD shows to its partners, DDR3 memory support will only be available in microprocessors made using 45nm process technology and on AM3 platforms due out in the second half of 2008. However, given that AMD’s documents for BIOS developers already note both AM3 and DDR3, it is highly likely that even current versions of AMD’s tenth-generation microprocessors can support DDR3 memory in certain conditions.
If AMD’s K10 processors that AMD makes now support DDR3, then the company has some additional flexibility when it comes to transition to a new memory type. For example, the company decided not to align transition to DDR2 with processors made using 65nm process technology. Given AMD usually proceeds relatively slowly with manufacturing process change, it may certainly be a wise idea to switch to DDR3-supporting socket AM3/socket 1207 revision 2 ahead of fabrication technology change, as in this case AMD could plug even current chips to new platforms.