Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) last week unveiled a performance upgrade for its Athlon 64 X2 dual-core high performance processor, the 6000+, with a clock speed of 3 GHz and 2 MB L2 cache. AMD has also disclosed plans to release desktop chips later this year based on the quad core design code-named Barcelona. Division marketing manager for desktop at AMD, David Schwarzbach, discussed the moves in an interview with Patrick Thibodeau.
How much of a performance gain is there with the new 6000+ processor compared to the 5600+?
What we're finding is anywhere from a 4 percent to 7 percent (overall) performance gain and it really depends on which test or which suite you are running.
Do you plan any more releases using the current dual core technology?
Right now we believe that this 6000+ is likely to be the last part that we produce from our current core. We will focus our efforts on bringing products out in the second half of the year. The new desktop core is called Agena and is derived from the Barcelona core. Barcelona is a native quad core and on the desktop we will be producing a dual core version of that as well.
To what potential customers is the 6000+ chip aimed at?
It's really aimed at performance users who do not see themselves as true enthusiasts. The FX brand of products is positioned for the true enthusiasts. The 6000 is simply there to give a high performance solution to someone who sees themselves as more of a mainstream user. They are definitely doing a lot of digital media and are going to be anxious to adopt the Vista OS as well.
What is the significance of manufacturing the single-core 3500+ and 3800+ at 65 nm rather than 90 nm?
The 65 nm technology is a manufacturing improvement efficiency for us. We can get the same performance on a smaller die with cooler running temperatures as well. These parts will naturally yield 45 watts, which will derive some energy savings. This going to be a bigger deal [for business users] than in the home space. Two or even three PCs running in the home will realize some savings on energy consumption over a year's time, but it's really enterprises running fleets of products that are going to see the real benefits.
Are there any plans to gradually move customers of single-core chips to dual core processors?
I think we have finally hit that inflection point in dual core where the value proposition is very well understood in its treatment of multithreaded applications. That is just great value. We are seeing dual core adoption accelerate and as a result we will see a reduced and but sustained role for single cores going forward. In the long-term single core is not going to going away anytime soon. We will just see the dual core products get adopted in greater volumes.