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AMD's AM2 Platform: Athlon 64 FX-62 Processor Review
Author: Ryan Shrout
Date: May 23, 2006
Subject: Processor
Manufacturer: AMD

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Introduction and Processor Specifications

Introduction

To say that the Athlon 64 and Athlon X2 processors have been wildly successful for AMD would be something of an understatement.  Since their introduction in September of 2003 and their move to 939-pin sockets in June of 2004, AMD has been in a constant performance lead over anything that Intel was able to throw at them on the performance desktop segment.  Even when Intel moved to DDR2 memory in June of 2004, AMD stuck to its guns saying that DDR2 wasn't ready for the spotlight yet, but that they would adopt it when the performance and price benefits were where AMD wanted them to be.  They were correct in all aspects, and the benchmarks proved it.

As far back as April of 2005, information began to surface on the move from the 939-pin Athlon 64 processors to that of the AM2 platform.  Really all we knew then was that we were probably going to see AMD move from an integrated DDR memory controller to an integrated DDR2 memory controller.  Initially we were expecting a DDR2-533 or DDR2-667 memory controller, but we now know the move to DDR2 also includes a few 800 MHz processors as well. 

With the move away from DDR to DDR2 as the main performance enhancement for an entire platform change, can the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 processor prove that AMD still has what it takes to stay on top in the desktop enthusiast arena?

Athlon 64 FX-62 Specifications

There are actually 15 processors launching today, though we only have the flagship FX-62 model in house for testing.  In reality, even AMD notes that the expected performance delta between the S939 and AM2 parts with similar frequencies is only 1% and thus we should expect an AM2 4200+ to perform nearly identically to a S939 4200+.  The FX-62 is also a 200 MHz clock increase over the previous FX-60 and thus we will see performance gains from that at least. 

AMD Athlon 64 FX-62

On the surface, it would appear that nothing has changed on the FX-62 from previous Athlon 64 processors you have seen.  And while that is mostly true, the differences are important.

  • Dual core
  • 2.8 GHz clock
  • 2 x 1MB L2 cache
  • 2 x 64K L1 Instruction cache
  • 2 x 64K L1 Data cache
  • Integrated DDR2 memory controller - up to DDR2-800 MHz support
  • 1 x 2000 MHz HyperTransport link
  • 0.09 micron process SOI (Silicon-on-Insulator)
  • Socket AM2
  • 230 mm^2 die size
  • 227.4 million transistors
  • 1.35v - 1.40v
  • 125 watt Max TDP

Our spec sheet here highlights the important changes with bold font.  The FX-62 is of course still a dual core processor running at 2.8 GHz; the previous top processor from AMD was the FX-60 that ran at 2.6 GHz.  The cache sizes remain the same for both L2 and L1 levels as does the HyperTransport link speed and enumerations.  The memory controller moves from a DDR400 controller to a DDR2-800 capable controller; by far the biggest change in the AM2 lineup. 

Socket 939 FX-55 on the left; Socket AM2 FX-62 on the right

Socket 939 FX-55 on the left; Socket AM2 FX-62 on the right

You can see from this second photo comparison between the FX-55 and the FX-62 where the pin count differs just slightly. These pin changes were made basically to prevent users from accidently installing a S939 Athlon 64 processor into an AM2 socket, and vise-versa. 

Empty AM2 Socket

The processor socket itself remains much the same, with a slightly changed heatsink mounting mechanism on it that is still very intuitive.

With Zalman Heatsink Installed

Our Zalman AM2-ready heatsink installed very easily onto the Foxconn NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI motherboard as you can see here.

Next Page - DDR2 Ratios and AM2 Processors

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