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AMD upgrades Athlon desktop dual-core line

Posted: 08 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:AMD? Athlon? desktop processor? processor? PCs?

AMD recently unveiled its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 5200+ desktop processor, which is designed for use in commercial desktop PCs.

Hewlett-Packard will be among the first Tier I computer makers taking the CPU to market in its new HP Compaq dc5750 desktop PC.

The 5200+ runs at a clock speed of 2.6GHz and is fitted with a dual, 1Mbyte L2 cache. As with AMD's top-of-the-line desktop dual-core, the FX-62, the 5200+ uses AMD's new AM2 socket. The socket effectively doubles the processor-to-memory bandwidth by enabling the chip to work with newer and faster generation of DDR2 memory. AM2 also brings support for AMD's hardware-assisted virtualization technology to the desktop.

The 5200+ comes in at the top of AMD's dual-core Athlon 62 X2 family, above the Athlon 5000+, which was introduced in May. The X2 family is one rung down from AMD's top-of-the-line FX-62 dual core. However, the FX-62 is aimed largely at so-called "enthusiast" usersmainly high-end gamers. As a result, the 5200+ effectively becomes AMD's highest performing mainstream part aimed at commercial desktops.

AMD's chip introduction comes as the scrappy semiconductor vendor is locked in an intense dual-core technology battle with Intel. That battle has played out in a series of recent product introductions. In May, AMD refreshed the high end of its Athlon line, and in July Intel introduced its long-awaited Core 2 Duo (formerly codenamed Conroe) chipsthe first desktop processors in its new "Core" microarchitecture.

With the Core 2 Duo processors, Intel is widely considered to have taken back the performance crown at the high end of the dual-core landscape. That's a position AMD had held for a considerable period of time. However, AMD isn't conceding anything. "We still believe we provide the best overall experience from a price/performance perspective," said Kevin Knox, AMD's VP of commercial business.

AMD also avowed it has been making considerable progress towards the next leap forward in processor technologyquad-core chips. To make those CPUs, AMD is currently ramping up its next-generation semiconductor fabrication process at its new Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany. "Quad cores will be at 65nm," Kurt Holman, AMD's commercial-desktops division marketing manager, said in a recent interview. "We are starting to ramp up 65nm and will be shipping for revenue by the end of the year."

AMD's existing Fab 30 facility in Dresden is simultaneously being retrofitted for 65nm. That plant should be pumping out chips on 300mm wafers by the end of 2007.

AMD's 65nm push is significant because Intel is already at 65nm, while AMD's processors are currently fabricated using 90nm technology.

- Alexander Wolfe
TechWeb News

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