AMD introduces 65 nm processors

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD fired up the third stage of a series of announcements this morning and announced a first batch of 65 nm desktop dual-core processors. Almost one year behind Intel, the new X2 family CPUs launch as a quartet that do not bump processor performance but lower power consumption and provide headroom for future clock speed increases.

65nm processors aren't quite news anymore. Intel has launched the industry's first 65 nm microprocessor, the Pentium D 955 shortly after Christmas last year. Since then, the company not only has shipped Pentium D 900-series processors with "Presler" core, but also millions of Core Duos ("Yonah"), single-core Pentium 4s 600s and Celeron Ds ("Cedar Mill) as well as the Core 2/Xeon 5100 family as dual-core and quad-core 65 nm chips. The crossover from 90 nm to 65 nm was reached several months ago and there are very few Intel processors that are built in 90 nm today (current Intel processor price list, PDF format).

AMD now makes the jump to 65 nm as well, perhaps not with quite as much buzz as Intel did last year. While the new processors use a different core code-named "Brisbane," there's no entirely new processor family and not even a new flagship model. Instead, there are four new models that partially bring back recently dropped model numbers and decrease the power consumption to a thermal design power (TDP) of 65 watts.

That does not sound too impressive, as the company already has been offering some 65 watt 90 nm X2 processors since the introduction of the socket AM2 in May of this year. Especially the 65 nm X2 4400+ (2.3 GHz) and the X2 4000+ (2.1 GHz), which had been available as a 65 watt (90 nm) processors before, may not spark excitement. However, progress can be seen with the two higher-end 65 nm processors: The X2 5000+ and the reborn 4800+, both previously rated at a TDP of 89 watts (110 watts for socket 939), now max out at 65 watts.

Samples of the new 65 nm processors, which AMD says are available in volume today, apparently have not been sent out to the media yet. So far, sites such as Tom's Hardware have been unable to confirm AMD's power claims, which go as far as stating that the new processors consume less power than Intel's Core 2 Duos in certain scenarios. For example, AMD told us that 65 nm X2 processors consumes only 7.5 watt when idle, while a Core 2 Duo chip runs at about 14.3 watts.

AMD said that it expects to reach a crossover from 90 nm to 65 nm - the time when it produces more 65 nm than 90 nm processors - in Q1 of next year. A full conversion is scheduled for mid-2007. The phrase "full," however, has to be taken with a grain of salt, as the company conceded that it will have to "support existing designs," which means that a range of 90 nm processors will remain available at least until sometime in 2008. While the company did not specify which of these 90 nm processors will survive until then, sources told TG Daily that these products will include all X2 processors that are available today - the 5200+, 5000+, 4600+, 4200+, 3800+ as well as the soon to be launched 5400+ (2.8 GHz), 5600+ (2.8 GHz), 5800+ (3.0 GHz) and 6000+ (3.0 GHz). The 5200+ and 5400+ will also be offered as 65 nm processors with a TDP of 76 watts.

A completely new 65 nm processor core is expected to arrive in early Q3 2007, sources said. The "Kuma" dual-core processors are related to the "Agena" quad-core processors and will debut with clock speeds between 2.0 and 2.9 GHz and a TDP of 89 watts. Other 65 watt upgrades will include the "Lima" core for single-core Athlon 64 processors (45 watt TDP) as well as the "Sparta" core for Sempron CPUs - which will drop the power consumption AMD's entry-level CPUs from currently 62 watts to 35 watts.

AMD's 65 nm Brisbane Athlon 64 X2 processors are produced in the firm's Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany. Combined with the use of 300 mm wafers, AMD says that it is capable of increasing the output of processors with the transition to the new production process. A company representative declined to comment on the number of its 300 mm wafer starts and how many more processors it is able to produce now. However, he mentioned that would be a "natural conclusion" that the production volume has grown through this transition.

65 nm processors, which - according to AMD - are shipping now, are available for the same price as their 90 nm sister models. The 4000+ models carries a tray price of $169, the 4400+ is available for $214, the 4800+ for $271 and the 5000+ for $301.

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