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The subject of this week’s Motherboard Memory Lane article is the AMD AM2+ platform. Strictly speaking the AMD AM2+ socket is historically the successor to the Socket AM2 and the predecessor to Socket AM3. The AMD AM2+ Socket was launched alongside the company’s first true quad-core and tri-core processors; the AMD Phenom series. Let’s take a look at the platform itself, the processors that it supported, the boards that were popular and of course the scores that were made by HWBOT members at that time.
After the roaring success of its K7 Athlon architecture CPUs and its follow up, the K8 Hammer architecture which brought us the first 64-bit, dual-core processors, the K10 architecture (technically referred to as the AMD 10h Family) arrived with a new Phenom brand name and the company’s first true (monolithic) quad-core processor series. Sounds pretty exciting, but in fact the new platform was received by tech media and enthusiasts with some real disappointment. Let’s look at why this happened.
Clock speeds were lower than expected, the platform remain limited (initially at least) to DDR2 memory and suffered a from translation lookaside buffer (TLB) bug that could cause a system lock-up (in fairly rare circumstances). Perhaps even worst of all, the new AMD Phenom chips simply could not keep up with Intel’s performance. You could almost point to the AM2+ launch as the beginning of the company’s drift into the void of non competitiveness. A void from which it is only now, ten years later, beginning to return, thanks to its new Zen architecture offerings.
Welcome to the latest edition of our Motherboard Memory lane series here on HWBOT. This week we turn our attention to the AMD AM2 platform, a platform that most notably featured an updated integrated memory controller that supported DDR2 standard memory. The platform also arrived with a new series of AMD 64 X2 processors based on a new and revamped K8 architecture. Let’s take a look at the AMD AM2 platform, the boards and processors that were popular with overclockers at that time and some of the outstanding scores that were submitted to HWBOT.
The AMD AM2 platform officially arrived in May 2006 and was the direct replacement for Socket 939. Although physically the AM2 Socket used exactly 940 pins in the same ZFI (zero insertion force) socket design that is used today, the new platform did not physically support previous generation Socket 940 CPUs due to an intentionally incompatible pin layout. The new socket however did debut a different heatsink retention mechanism with a cage-like design that was attached to the motherboard using four screws, not two. The heatsink / cooler dimensions remained unchanged however.
The new platform arrived with a range of single and dual-core processors, initially based on the Windsor (dual-core) and Manilla (single-core) architectures which were members of the original K8 family which had debuted several years earlier with Socket 754. Subsequent platform refreshes added Brisbane and Orleans architecture models.
Today in our Motherboard Memory Lane series we take on the classic AMD Socket 939 platform. After the heady heyday of the Socket A era, Socket 939 saw AMD build on the 64-bit architecture processors that debut on Socket 754, adding dual channel memory support, improved overclocking and eventually dual-core models. All of which makes it a memorable platform for many overclockers, especially when you thrown in some truly magnificent motherboards from DFI. Come with us as we recall the chipsets and boards that defined the era, plus a few of the scores that were submitted to HWBOT at the time.
The AMD Socket 939 platform arrived on the market in June 2004, just nine months after the company launched its Socket 754 platform. As with Socket 754, the new platform was designed to support the latest Athlon 64 and Sempron processors, eventually going to support Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2 models. The actual Socket 939 design was in fact very similar to Socket 940 (just one pin less) which was essentially AMD’s server platform. Socket 940 supported Opteron and Athlon 64 FX chips which required registered DDR memory. In terms of design Socket 939 was launched as consumer grade platform and featured a dual memory controller and support for more affordable and readily available non-registered memory modules.
At launch the new platform arrived with a new range of Athlon 64 processors, and as with the previous Socket 754 platform, two main chipset options; VIA and Nvidia. At launch the VIA K8T800 competed against the Nvidia nForce3 platform. Eventually the most popular choice with overclockers became the Nvidia nForce4 chipset, a single chip solution that evolved to offer a 1GHz HyperTransport support and SLI support, one of the first AMD platforms to do so. While the standard nForce4 Ultra MCP (Media Communications Processor) offered 20 lanes of PCIe the nForce4 SLI packed 38 lanes of PCIe (which had now replaced the aging AGP interface). The nForce4 Ultra chipset also offered 10 USB 2.0 ports, 2x IDE ports and 4x SATA 3Gbps ports, Gigabit LAN and AC’97 2.3 audio.
Welcome to the latest edition of our Motherboard Memory Lane series here on HWBOT. Following on from our in-depth look at the iconic AMD Socket A platform last week, we now turn our attention to its successor, AMD Socket 754. The Socket retains a slightly odd position in the annals of technological history as it debuted with wholly new and updated 64-bit architecture processor series, yet quickly became the option of choice for budget PC builds as it was eclipsed by the Socket 939 platform. Let’s take a look at the Socket itself, the chipsets and processors that accompanied it, and of course some the landmark scores and submissions that happened during the Socket 754 era.
Introduced in September 2003, the AMD Socket 754 platform was marketed as the replacement for the long standing Socket A (or Socket 462 as was also known). It supported a new range of AMD processors based on architectures that include Newcastle, Venice, Clawhammer and Palermo - all of which come under the AMD K8 architectural umbrella, and were sold under Athlon 64 and Sempron brand names. Although Socket 754 motherboards essentially replaced Socket A motherboards, in most regions the two platforms overlapped. It’s successor, Socket 939 arrived in mid 2004 offering processors with a superior features set that essentially relegated Socket 754 to the budget PC space. This made the platform a popular choice with more affordable AMD Sempron processors.
Today we continue our Mother Memory Lane series, shifting our focus back to the beginning of the last decade, to a time when AMD had the upper hand against Intel in terms of raw performance. Our AMD series of articles kicks off with the classic Socket A (462), a CPU socket and platform which many us will recall with fondness, not least because it also involved some memorably overclockable processors. Let’s take a look at the chipsets, the processors and motherboards that defined the era, plus a few of the outstanding scores that were submitted to HWBOT.
Unlike previous Motherboard Memory Lane articles which focused on a specific platform and a specific chipset, today we’re looking at a platform from AMD which in fact spanned several different chipset designs from companies such as VIA Technologies, Nvidia, SIS and AMD themselves. From an overclocking perspective we can see Nvidia’s nForce chipset series as being the most popular, in particular the Nvidia nForce 2 Ultra 400. The VIA KT400 and KT600 may well have been the most popular in terms of units shipped globally, but it lacked the necessary performance features that overclockers craved. AMD’s 760 series was considerably less popular with SIS featuring heavily in the budget motherboard segment.
AMD’s Socket A used a zero insertion force pin grid array design with 462 pins (hence the alternative Socket 462 naming). It supported a range of K7 architecture AMD processors and core designs that spanned the period from 1999 to 2005. It supported several AMD models that included Duron, Sempron, Athlon, Athlon XP and Athlon XP-M. The AMD Athlon XP series arrived in 2001 and was an immediate hit with enthusiasts, offering superior performance than Intel equivalents, coupled with reasonably competitive prices. The Athlon XP series is regarded by many as AMD’s greatest historical moment in terms of sheer popularity with enthusiasts.