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AMD Intros 939-pin CPUs: 3800+ and FX-53

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD
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Looking at the new 939-pin Processors

Even at the beginnings of the life of the Athlon 64 processor, grumblings have been heard about this eminent processor launch.  Reviewers and customer alike were claiming that 939-pin processors based on the Athlon 64 technology were going to be the first 'real product' to look for.  And while the performance of the processors released before now have shown that they were able to compete in a competitive market, the movement you are seeing today from AMD is necessary.


We should first start off by describing exactly what is being released today and what has changed from previous processor releases.  As of today, AMD is releasing the following processors:


AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 (939-pin)
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (939-pin)
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (754-pin)
AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (939-pin)


We'll go over these processors individually so you can see what technical specifications they entail.


Athlon 64 FX-53 (939-pin)


The Athlon 64 FX-53 in the 939-pin package is indeed just that.  The majority of the processors specifications remain unchanged.  What does change is noted in blue text below.



FX-53 (939)
- L1 Cache: 128 KB
- L2 Cache: 1 MB
- Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 128-bit (dual channel)
Memory Type: Unbuffered, unregistered memory
HyperTransport: 2 GHz
Packaging: 939-pin organic
- Transistor count: 105.9 million
- Die size: 193 mm2


You can see that the levels of cache remain the same as does the dual channel memory controller.  Now, however, you are no longer required to have registered memory in your FX system.  This both gives a slight performance increase as well as opens up your choices as far as memory speeds and brands are concerned.  The HyperTransport link has been bumped from 800 MHz to 1 GHz (bi-directional giving us the 2 GHz rating) for an increase from 6.4 GB/s to 8 GB/s HT bandwidth.  This will allow more data to flow from the processors to the chipsets increasing performance slightly.


Athlon 64 3800+ and 3500+


The Athlon 64 3800+ and 3500+ both are identical processors with different core frequencies.  These are the farthest modified processors from the previous generation as our specification will show.  Again, changes from the previous, 754-pin Athlon 64 3400+ processor and below are marked in blue text.



3800+ (939)
- L1 Cache: 128 KB
L2 Cache: 512 KB
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Memory: 128-bit (dual channel)
Memory Type: Unbuffered, unregistered memory
HyperTransport: 2 GHz
Packaging: 939-pin organic
Transistor count: 68.5 million
Die size: 144 mm2


3500+ (939)
- L1 Cache: 128 KB
L2 Cache: 512 KB
- Frequency: 2.2 GHz
Memory: 128-bit (dual channel)
Memory Type: Unbuffered, unregistered memory
HyperTransport: 2 GHz
Packaging: 939-pin organic
Transistor count: 68.5 million
Die size: 144 mm2


You can see there is much more changed on these two processors, many of them noteworthy.


First note that the 939-pin Athlon 64 processors are a completely new core from AMD.  This is the official 'Newcastle' core from AMD that brings about the migration to an L2 cache level of 512 KB instead of the previous 1 MB in the Athlon 64 3400+.  When the Athlon 64 3000+ and 2800+ processors were released with only 512 KB of L2 cache, we knew from the transistor count and die size remaining the same as the other Athlon 64 processors, that they indeed did have the full 1 MB of L2 cache on them, but half of it was disabled.  This is no longer the case, as we can see the transistor count has been lowered significantly and the die size is now much smaller as well. 


The other major change is the upgrade from a 64-bit single channel memory controller to a dual channel controller.  The Athlon 64 line will now support dual channel memory in its new 939-pin package where that ability was once left only for the elite FX line of processors.  The HyperTransport bus has also been bumped to the 2 GHz speed on the 64 line as well.


Athlon 64 3700+


The Athlon 64 3700+ processor is the lone survivor of the 754-pin package.  It maintains is lines legacy, as our specs below will show.



3700+ (754)
- L1 Cache: 128 KB
- L2 Cache: 1 MB
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 64-bit (single channel)
- Memory Type: Unbuffered, unregistered memory
- HyperTransport: 1.6 GHz
- Packaging: 754-pin organic
- Transistor count: 105.9 million
- Die size: 193 mm2


You can see that the only change on this processor announced today is the frequency — now topping out with the FX-53 and 3800+ at 2.4 GHz.  The processor is still based on the original Athlon 64 core from AMD: sporting 1 MB of L2 cache, a 64-bit, single channel memory controller and the encompassing transistor count and die size to go along with it.  This processor release is mainly to allow owners of Socket 754 motherboards an upgrade path for the future.


These processors are shown below from top to bottom, we see: Athlon 64 FX-53 (940), Athlon 64 FX-51 (940), Athlon 64 FX-53 (939), Athlon 64 3800+ (939).  Notice how the bottom of the processor's pin configuration has changed.  Not only has a single pin been removed from the new Athlon's but the entire pin hole layouts has been reconfigured in order to prevent user error and confusion between the 940 and 939-pin processors during installation process.  Chances are, though, more than a couple  of bent pin processors will be reported from end users.  ;)










The next question we all have is how do these processors perform?  We have the Athlon 64 FX-53 (939) and the Athlon 64 3800+ (939) on the test bed today, so now we'll get into the system setup and then head straight into the benchmarks.

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