AMD to offer low-power Socket AM2 chips

— 4:06 PM on March 23, 2006

X-bit Labs has the skinny on AMD's upcoming "energy efficient" Socket AM2 processors. In the face of Intel's upcoming Conroe processors, which will have a 65W power envelope by default, AMD has decided to compete on the low-power desktop front by shipping variants of its Socket AM2 chips with 65W and 35W power envelopes. The energy-efficient processors will be made using AMD's existing 90nm silicon-on-insulator process, and should ship alongside standard Socket AM2 offerings in June or July. This is a similar strategy to the company's current Opteron EE and HE chips, which have 30W and 55W power envelopes and ship alongside regular Opterons.

AMD reportedly plans to introduce 65W flavors of its upcoming 3800+ through 4600+ Socket AM2 Athlon 64 X2s, with the 3800+ also showing up as a 35W part. A 65W 4800+ is expected to appear in the third quarter, as well, and should remain AMD's fastest low-power offering until the second quarter of 2007. On the single-core side, AMD will offer a 35W Athlon 64 3500+ in addition to 35W Sempron 3000+ through 3400+ chips. A 35W Sempron 3500+ will appear in the fourth quarter, too.

Considering the expected standard power envelopes of 89-110W for dual-core and 62W for single-core Socket AM2 chips, it will be interesting to see if AMD can compete with the apparent power efficiency of Intel's 65nm process. One has to wonder how profitable the energy-efficient chips will be for AMD, however, and how they will have to be priced in order to compete effectively with Conroe desktop processors. If Conroe's early performance numbers are accurate, AMD may not be able to mark up the energy-efficient chips anywhere near as much as current low-power Opterons HE and EE chips, which can cost nearly twice as much as standard Opterons.

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