What AM2 brings to the table
AMD Athlon 64 series processors on the new AM2 sockets have very little in the way of architecture changes. The pipeline count, cache sizes and bus speeds all remain the same - only two changes have occurred.
The first is all AM2 based processors now incorporate a Dual Channel DDR-2 memory controller that officially supports up to DDR2-800 memory modules. The second change is a unified Socket Architecture. AMD is moving all of its CPU's over to AM2, this includes Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX and Sempron - that's right, Sempron is going AM2 as well. This means a new change to Sempron, firstly a socket change from 754 to AM2 as well as a Dual Channel DDR2 memory controller.
From the block diagram you can see that the Athlon 64 architecture doesn't change apart from a new socket and DDR-2 memory controller. It is the Sempron series that gets the biggest upgrade, that from single channel DDR to Dual Channel DDR-2.
The CPU we have on display today and for our future AM2 test bed is a 3800+ Athlon 64 X2 CPU clocked at 2GHz from the factory. The packaging that AMD places the CPU in is somewhat smaller than previous AMD Athlon 64 X2 boxes. On the front the clock speed is clearly marked as well as the Socket used, so you don't get confused.
If you are one who likes to look up the CPU codes before you buy, AMD places the CPU view window on the side of the box where you can clearly see the code, prefect for the researching overclockers who want certain manufacturing coded processors.
The top of the CPU looks like any AMD Athlon 64 based CPU. There is no socket name on the top to identify it as AM2; only in the code does it tell you this.
The bottom of the CPU almost looks like a Socket 939 processor; however, there are a total of 940 pins. While there are 940 pins like an Opteron CPU, the arrangement is different so you can't place this CPU into an Opteron board or place an Opteron CPU in an AM2 board.
Lastly we have the CPU cooler AMD boxes with its AM2 processors. The cooler has changed only slightly in that the clamp has changed to fit AM2's new retention design.
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