AMD Athlon64 X2

There was always going to be a point where simply increasing the speeds of CPU's would have to slow down. The speeds of CPU's have been increasing for years at an incredible rate. Technologies are being pushed to the limits to get every ounce of speed out of the best silicon around. The time has come to try something different. AMD's Athlon 64 X2 CPU's are just that, a new idea. Instead of simply increasing the clock speed of these new processors, and instead of increasing the efficiency by any great amount, AMD have gone with a dual core option. Inside the X2 are two identical CPU's working side by side to almost double performance.

Each of the cores inside the X2 will have there own cache systems. Each will have there own L1 cache and L2 cache to work from, despite this they will share one HyperTransport link, due to the fact that they are all under one chip in one socket. The X2 will be housed in a socket 939 casing allowing current Athlon 64 motherboards to take the X2 with only a BIOS update, you will need to check with your motherboard manufacturer to confirm your motherboard will be able to take the new Athlon 64 X2. 

Model Number Clock frequency (Each Core) L2 Cache (Each Core)
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2Ghz 512K
Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.2Ghz 1Mb
Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.4Ghz 512K
Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4Ghz 1Mb
Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6Ghz 512K
Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.6Ghz 1Mb
Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8Ghz 512K
Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8Ghz 1Mb

So looking at the table above you can see that there are currently only 2 speeds of the AMD Athlon 64 X2 available but 4 models. Like the Athlon 64 original the X2 has been released with 2 different cache sizes to differentiate the models and the performance increase.

Features of the AMD Athlon 64 X2

Enhanced Virus Protection

AMD's Enhanced Virus protection works with Windows XP Service Pack release 2. AMD's virus protection enhances the effectiveness of virus control by protecting the memory area's preventing malicious code from being executed. The AMD virus protection will give you these features

  • Prevent the spread of certain malicious viruses, which are transported via e-mail and instant messaging applications

  • Surf the Internet with confidence, knowing you have an extra level of protection against certain harmful web downloads

  • Help improve the integrity of your home and office network

Cool n Quiet

Cool n Quiet is a power saving technology for the desktop processor, specifically for the Athlon64 range. This technology has been seen in mobile CPU's such as the PowerNow and Speed Step technologies from AMD and Intel respectively. The Athlon 64 range is the first to have the technology in a desktop CPU.

The aim of Cool n Quiet is to lower the operating temperature of the CPU and reduce power consumption of the CPU and working with a temperature sensitive fan can reduce the noise created inside the system case. Cool n Quiet is based on CPU load figures. Under low CPU load conditions, Cool n Quiet technology will reduce the power to the CPU by lowering the Vcore setting accordingly. This saves power and cools the CPU at the same time.

Hyper-Transport Technology

Hyper-Transport is a high speed point to point link that connects integrated circuits. Its faster than a standard bus and has a much lower latency. All this allows the CPU to access system memory much more efficiently by lowering system bottlenecks. Hyper-Transport also offers significantly more bandwidth than standard bus technologies.

64-bit - How will this improve performance?

The release of Win64 or whatever Microsoft decide they wish to call it, will alter things round a little bit. Currently you have a memory limit of 4Gb set by Windows, however only 2Gb of this can be used by a single process, Windows reserves anything over this. By using the Athlon64 CPU your 32-bit applications will be able to utilize the full 4Gb of memory available to it. High memory tasks will run a great deal more smoothly. 32-bit applications would have to be patched in order to use this however. This does rely on the software companies updating their programs and releasing a patch.

The scenario that the manufacturers are trying to get to is running a 64-bit application under a 64-bit OS, here the OS would allocate all the available memory and the Apps would have more registers to utilise. The expectation is that for non-memory bound applications you will see an increase of about 10-20% for memory bound applications (Apps limited by the memory you have available) The process will me much more efficient. Less swapping to hard disk and more information stored directly in memory.

Technical Features 

  Athlon 64 X2 Athlon64 Athlon64-FX
Hyper Transport Bandwidth 8Gb/s 3.2Gb/s 6.4Gb/s
L1 Cache 128k per core 128K (64K Instructions 64K Data) 128K (64K Instructions 64K Data)
L2 Cache 512k/1Mb per core 512k/1Mb 1Mb
Micron Technology 0.09 .13 .13
Transistors ~ 230 Million 105.9Million 105.9Million
Form Factor Socket 939 754/939 pin Socket 940-pin Socket
Voltage   1.5v 1.5v

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From MicroDirect

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