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AMD unveils new Socket AM2 desktop chipset

AMD unveils new Socket AM2 desktop chipset

If you were thinking about building a new AMD-based desktop, you might want to hold off a minute. Today AMD announced its new Socket AM2 motherboard chipset that will become the standard for all of its desktop processors. The key features of Socket AM2 are its support for DDR2 SDRAM and more efficient power consumption. The bad news is that you'll need to buy a brand-new chip to run on it. Expect AMD to reissue Socket AM2 versions of its current Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64, and Sempron desktop chips. It hasn't announced plans for Socket AM2 versions of the old Athlon 64 FX chips, but AMD also announced a new dual-core Socket AM2 Athlon 64 FX-62 today, as well as a new Athlon 64 X2 5000+.

Thanks to AM2 and its new power efficiency, the Athlon 64 X2 requires only 89 watts from the power supply, compared to the 110-watt Socket 939 versions. The single-core Athlon 64 and Semprons also get a break, requiring only 62 watts, rather than 89 watts on the old chipset. In addition, AMD plans to add a line of Socket AM2 Energy Efficient chips that get even more power savings. These specially branded CPUs break down as follows:

Energy-efficient desktop processors (65 watt max. consumption): AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors 4800+ ($671), 4600+ ($601), 4400+ ($514), 4200+ ($417), 4000+ ($353), and 3800+ ($323).

Energy-efficient small-form-factor desktop processors (35 watt max. consumption): AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor 3800+ ($364), AMD Athlon 64 processors 3500+ ($231), and AMD Sempron processors 3400+ ($145), 3200+ ($119), and 3000+ ($101).

This aggressive efficiency plan lets AMD play more competitively alongside Intel's chips for smaller PCs. Apple's adoption of Intel's Core Duo chips into its Mac Mini and iMac shows that power-efficient processors have great value. And while the Core Duo is technically a laptop CPU, Intel's next-generation Core 2 Duo is supposed to merge the best parts of desktop and laptop CPUs into a line of power-efficient products that also get high benchmark scores. Whether AMD's Energy Efficient chips will compete more strongly on power, performance, or both remains to be determined, but given system designs we've seen from Apple, Alienware, and others, it's plain that both AMD and Intel are taking power consumption as seriously as they do raw power.