AMD Launches New DDR2-Ready Athlon CPUs

Company’s new AM2 socket brings support for faster memory, but initial tests show negligible performance improvements.

AMD today launched its new AM2 CPU socket, bringing support for fast DDR2 memory to the company’s desktop processors. As expected, PC World’s tests showed negligible performance gains from the new socket, but the change positions AMD for more notable performance gains with future products.

Socket AM2 is a 940-pin technology that replaces the company’s Socket 939 on motherboards, and it works only with new AMD processors that support DDR2 memory instead of DDR. The new socket also includes a new 4-bolt tray to offer a more stable platform for the processor heat sink.

In addition to the immediate availability of same-priced AM2 versions of most of its existing 939-based Sempron, Athlon 64, and Athlon 64 X2 processors, AMD also announced the launch of two new AM2-only processors. The company’s new top-of-the line 2.8-GHz Athlon 64 FX-62 will sell for about $1031 and supports up to 800-MHz DDR2; the new 2.6-GHz Athlon 64 X2 5000+ will sell for about $696, and it and all the new AM2 X2 chips support up to 667-MHz DDR2.

In addition, the company is now offering lower-watt versions of its X2 processors for use with Socket AM2 motherboards. The new energy-efficient models drop the maximum power specification from 110 watts to 85 watts. Each reduced-power X2 chip carries a small price premium over the standard X2 version.

AMD says it expects motherboards that support the new AM2 standard to begin shipping immediately from a wide range of vendors, including Abit, Asus, Biostar, ECS, EPox, Gigabyte, Leadtek, MSI, and Shuttle.

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