by February 28, 2006 0 comments

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Understanding different AMD processor names
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Athlon, X2, AMD Processors

With a slew of product launches from AMD with similar names but different variants, choosing an Athlon processor is not easy. We simplify the names for you

Last month, we looked at Intel and the extremely confusing
nomenclature it has adopted. We felt it was only fair if we demystified AMD’s
Athlon processors for you as well. Especially since AMD has loads of processors
available and even though the name might be the same, due to certain other
differences (which might not be immediately apparent or obvious) you might end
up buying the wrong chip!

First, let us start with a few basics for those of you who
have just tuned in. When you buy an AMD processor and it says 3000+, the
processor is not actually running at 3 GHz. It is rather running at a much lower
1.8 GHz.

Current Athlon processors

Model Number Frequency
1.2-Cache HyperTrans
port (MHz)
Voltage Socket Fab Core Name
64 Series
2800+/3000+/3500+ 1.8/2.0/2.2 512 KB 800/800/1000 1.50 V 754/754/939 130 nm ClawHammer
1 MB 800/800/
1.50 V 754/754/754/
130 nm ClawHammer
512 KB 800 1.50 V Socket 754 130 nm NewCastle
512 KB 1000 1.50 V Socket 939 130 nm NewCastle
3000+/3200+/3500+ 1.8/2.0/2.2 512 KB 1000 1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm Winchester
512 KB 1000 1.35/1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm Venice
3400+ 2 2.2 512 KB 800 1.35/1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm Venice
3500+/3700+/4000+ 2.2/2.2/2.4 512KB/1MB/
1000 1.35/1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm San Diego

Athlon 64  FX Series

FX-51/53 2.2/2.4 1 MB 800 1.50 V Socket 940 130 nm SledgeHammer
FX-51/53 2.4/2.6 1 MB 1000 1.50 V Socket 939 130 nm ClawHammer
FX-51/53 2.6/2.8 1 MB 1000 1.50 V/1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm San Diego

Athlon 64 X2

2.0/2.2/2.4 2 × 512 KB 1000 1.35-1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm Manchester
2.0/2.2/2.4 2 × 512 KB 1000 1.35-1.40 V Socket 939 90 nm Toledo
X2 4400+/4800+ 2.2/2.4 2 × 512 KB 1000 1.35-1.40 V Socket 940 90 nm Toledo

The claim is that in 3000+, the overall system performance
is comparable to an equivalent 3 GHz Intel processor.

We have listed the processors in the table with the oldest
released processor first. As you can see, the same processor numbers are
available in different cores. For example, the Athlon 64 3200+ is available with
the Winchester as well as the Venice core.

Obviously, the newer cores are better as they may have a
higher cache, faster HyperTransport speed or just a newer branch prediction and
instruction set. Therefore, as a thumb rule, you should choose the newer core
over the older one, which is why you need to know that they are actually there.

Socket 754
Socket 754-based processors are the base level AMD processors aimed at low
-budget users. All of these are built using the 130 nm Fab process, except for
the newer Semprons based on the Palermo core. These are based on the newer (but
soon to be outdated) 90 nm process, and thus, run a bit cooler than their 130 nm
counterparts. When buying a Sempron, check that it is based on the Palermo core.
Although you will find similar processors based on the 754 as well as the 939
socket, it is advisable to go for the 939 version even though it is a bit more
expensive. This is simply because 939 is newer, and is a bit more future proof.

Athlon processors
Product Core Socket Launch date
Athlon 64 FX-62  Windsor AM2 Q2’06
Athlon 64 X2 
Windsor AM2 Q2’06
Athlon 64 X2
Windsor AM2 Q2’06
Athlon 64 
Orleans AM2 Q2’06
Sempron 3800+ Manila AM2 Q3’06
Manila AM2 Q2’06

Socket 939
This is the latest (though not exactly recent) socket specification from AMD
and this is where you will find most of the performance processors. Some of the
budget processors are available in 939 variants as well.

The problem with this socket is that AMD is already in
advanced stages of coming out with a brand new socket-M2 or AM2, if the rumors
are to be believed. This one will be 940 pins and obviously not compatible with
any 939/754 boards you might buy today, so we recommend that if you can, wait a
few months before an upgrade.

The latest addition to the AMD range is the X2 range of
processors. X2 signifies dual core and the series starts from the Athlon X2
3800+. We, however, feel that this processor might be slightly slower on
performance with just 512KB of cache per die. The top-end variant here currently
is the X2 4800+, and it’s a good choice if you’re into graphics designing
and video editing. However, if you want an out-and-out gaming performance, we
recommend you go either for the 4000+ or the FX series, as currently the games
aren’t optimized for dual core.

Socket M2 or AM2
With Intel coming up with a whole new platform and list of processors from
the next year onwards (refer to Decoding Intel’s processor Nomenclature, page
12, PCQuest, December 2005), we expected AMD to come up with spanking new
processors and cores and it didn’t disappoint us. AMD has a whole host of
releases lined up for 2006. These will be based on the new AM2 socket. With the
number of processors scheduled for launch from January onwards (Intel is
expected to launch Yonah on January 6, 2006), we will see the renewed battle for
processor supremacy. Watch out for our Review space in the months to come to
know how each of these perform on our tests.

Varun Dubey

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