AMD unveils Socket 939 processors

Boosts Athlon 64 to dual-channel memory, too

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Computex AMD today used the Computex show in Taipei to introduce its first Socket 939 processors, as expected, and announced that the first three will be available to buyers immediately.

The company also added the latest CPU to its Socket 754 line-up.

As expected, the three Socket 939 parts are the Athlon 64 3500+ and 3800+, along with a version of the existing FX-53. The reason: for a longer-lasting motherboard infrastructure, said Henri Richard, AMD's European marketing chief, but it also conveniently enables cheaper, four-layer mobos that can still support a dual-channel memory bus.

In addition to the new processor connection grid, the three new Athlons also feature a faster, 2GHz HyperTransport frontside bus - up from 1.6GHz - yielding up to 8GBps of bandwidth.

Unlike the Socket 940 Athlon 64-FX, the new model supports unbuffered DDR SDRAM, allowing high-performance buffs to use regular desktop memory rather than the server-oriented DIMMs they formerly required.

The new socket also brings a dual-channel memory manager to the previously single-channel Athlon 64 family, which initial testing suggests brings the 3800+ equivalent performance to the 64-FX. The 3800+ has just 512KB of on-die L2 cache, but this appears to make relatively little difference to overall performance.

All three processors feature AMD's PowerNow... er... Cool'n'quiet power-saving technology. The company touted the chips' support for Windows XP Service Pack 2's no-execute (NX) facility, which is intended to prevent viruses that attempt to execute code resident in data-only memory.

The 939-pin FX-53 costs $799, the 3800+ $720, the 3700+ $710 and the 3500+ $500. All prices are for CPUs sold in batches of 1000.

AMD announced chipset support from SiS, VIA and ServerWorks. It also said systems were shipping immediately from the likes of eMachines, HP, NEC, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens and others. ®

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