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TekSpek CPUs


Date issued:

What is AMD Socket AM2 and why do I care?

This TekSpek quickly and easily explains AMD's new processor socket and related technology to the reader, comparing it to AMD's previous socket types.

The Overview


Keep your hair on, dear reader, because this TekSpek will be a quick one. AMD recently introduced a new socket for all of its CPUs, and along with it -- because their processors also contain the system memory controller -- support for DDR2. Previous processors from the company straddled two sockets and used DDR.

And that, dear reader, is the crux of it for the time being. The new 'AM2' socket, while it facilitates support for new revisions of the K8 core that AMD tout, is all about bringing DDR2 and a single socket to the AMD desktop right now.

Waiting for DDR2 memory to fall in price and increase in performance for the same money, the new 940-pin socket -- not to be confused with their Opteron socket -- puts all AMD's CPU eggs in a single basket while maintaining the minimum performance to be had with Socket 939.

So you can now get Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX (with brand new 2.8GHz dual-core FX-62 and 2.6GHz X2 5000+ chips exclusive to Socket AM2 right now) on the new socket, making your AMD platform choice an easy one.

AMD Athlon™ 64 FX

NVIDIA have new core logic to support it, called nForce5, which pairs PCI Express with the new CPUs and all the other goodies you've come to expect on any modern PC, with versions to suit all budgets.

And as far as the DDR2 memory support does, the new chips will run up to DDR2-800, supporting DDR2-400 as a base. As a decent rule of thumb, the money you'd spend on current Socket 939 and DDR gets you the same performance for the same money spent on AM2 and DDR2 modules, since the new memory controller on the CPUs doesn't give up any performance to the old stuff.


And really that's it. New chips in the new socket, at roughly the same money and with no less performance, with just DDR2 and a wealth of supporting mainboards to consider, giving you what you have with Socket 939 and the Sempron-holding Socket 754.

So what it's actually all about is unification of AMD's platform and a move to a new memory standard. For upgraders it means you consider it as an upgrade path for new AMD cores, not more performance, and for new system buyers you choose it automatically.

How's that for a quick and to-the-point explanation of something that can appear so daunting. We thank you!