The future of Athlon overclocking?

The changes coming down the pike for the Athlon raise some interesting questions about how Athlon overclocking will look in the near future. One potential problem is the fact that the current Athlon resistor configurations—adjustable via overclocking cards—is mapped out to 1050MHz. Will "Golden Fingers" cards be obsoleted by 1GHz+ Athlons? Among the possibilities:

  • Athlon overclock cards will have to be redesigned somehow
  • AMD will change the resistor configuration to allow for higher speeds, and GF cards will need only a documentation update
  • AMD will take the opportunity to shut the door on Athlon overclocking by changing something in the Athlon PCB design
I see the second possibility as the most likely; GF cards will probably need nothing more than a documentation change. What do you guys think?

The other big change on the way is the move to on-die L2 cache and, with it, AMD's Socket A. Obviously, socketed Athlons won't work with GF cards, so what do we do? This interesting post at JC's has speculation about a range of future Athlon developments, including this tasty morsel:

Oh, and BTW, if anyone is wondering how to O/C the socket A cpus, here's how... certain pins on the cpu will designate voltage/multiplier. current way to o/c is to break/short the pin that corresponds to the setting you want. Next wave of o/c devices will sit between the cpu and the socket and short these pins automatically (it wouldn't be too cool to break those pins off of theat new 2ghz cpu would it?)"
This kind of thing does seem possible. Dr. Evil's keen eye spotted the resistors on top of what appears to be a socketed Athlon in the lower picture here. (Credit JC's for this link, too.) Assuming these resistors control the CPU's multiplier setting, a device that sits between the CPU and the socket just might be able to adjust those settings. Anybody have any further insight into this one?

Finally, there is the possibility—a likelihood, in my view—that we'll see "slotket" adapters to allow socketed Athlons to work with Slot A motherboards. Athlon slotkets could allow the kind of overclocking options GF cards provide now, kind of like Intel slotkets enable Celeron SMP.

Whatever the case, Athlon overclocking is about to change. We'll keep you updated on the developments, and yes, we are planning a FAQ update soon.

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