Athlon 64

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The Athlon 64 (codenamed "ClawHammer", "Newcastle", "Winchester", "Venice", and "San Diego") represents AMD's entry into the consumer 64-bit microprocessor market, released on September 23rd, 2003. This processor is based on the AMD64 architecture. It is AMD's first eighth generation processor core (K8) for desktop and mobile computers.

There are three variants: Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, and Athlon 64 FX. The Athlon 64 FX is positioned as a hardware enthusiast product, always one speed step above the fastest Athlon 64. The Athlon 64 X2 name refers to the dual core nature of all processors beyond 4000+. As an implementation of the AMD64 architecture, the Athlon 64 is able to run 32 bit x86, 16 bit, and AMD64 code.

Athlon 64 CG ("Newcastle") in Socket 754
Athlon 64 CG ("Newcastle") in Socket 754


The Athlon 64 features an on-die memory controller, a feature not previously seen on x86 CPUs. Not only does this mean the controller runs at the same clock rate as the CPU itself, it also means the electric signals have a shorter physical distance to travel compared to the old northbridge interfaces. The result is a significant reduction in latency (response time), for access requests to main memory.

Translation Look-Aside Buffers (TLBs) have also been enlarged, with reduced latencies and improved branch prediction, with four times the number of bimodal counters in the global history counter. This and other architectural enhancements, especially as regards SSE implementation, improve instruction per cycle (IPC) performance over the previous Athlon XP generation. To make this easier for consumers to understand, AMD has chosen to market the Athlon 64 using a PR rating system, where the numbers roughly map to Pentium 4 performance equivalents, rather than actual clock speed.

Athlon 64 also features CPU speed throttling technology branded Cool 'n' Quiet. When the user is running undemanding applications and the load on the processor is light, the processor's clock speed and voltage are reduced. This in turn reduces its peak power consumption (max TDP set at 89 W by AMD) to as low as 32 W (stepping C0, clock speed reduced to 800 MHz) or 22W (stepping CG, clock speed reduced to 1 GHz).

The No Execute bit (NX bit) supported by Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition, and Linux 2.6.8 and higher is also included, for improved protection from malicious buffer overflow security threats. Hardware set permission levels make it much more difficult for malicious code to take control of the system. It is intended to make 64-bit computing a more secure environment.

The Athlon 64 CPUs have been produced with 130 nm and 90 nm SOI process technologies. All of the latest chips (Winchester, Venice and San Diego models) are on 90nm.


  • 754: The Athlon 64 value/budget line, 64-bit memory interface (Single-Channel)
  • 939: Athlon 64 performance line, Athlon 64 X2s, and newer Athlon 64 FXs, 128-bit memory interface ( Dual-channel )
  • 940: Opteron and old Athlon 64 FX, 128-bit memory interface - Requires registered DDR memory, but can use ECC
  • Socket F: Opteron. Yet to be Released (ETA 2006), 1207 Pins
  • Socket M2: Athlon 64/Athlon 64 FX/Athlon 64 X2/Sempron Will replace Sockets 754 and 939 in 2006. 940 Pins (Not compatible with Socket 940.)

At the introduction of Athlon 64 in September 2003, only Socket 754 and Socket 940 were available. However, because scaling clock speed proved harder than anticipated, AMD decided improving the memory controller was the best available short term option. So as a stopgap measure, they brought out a non-multiprocessor version of the Opteron called the Athlon 64 FX, as an multiplier unlocked enthusiast part for Socket 940, comparable to Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium 4s.

In June 2004, AMD released Socket 939 as the mainstream dual channel Athlon 64 memory interface, leaving Socket 940 solely for the server market (Opterons), and relegating Socket 754 as a value/budget line, for Semprons and slower versions of the Athlon 64. Eventually Socket 754 will permanently replace Socket A for Semprons.


Clawhammer (130 nm SOI)

Newcastle (130 nm SOI)

Downlabeled Clawhammer with only 512KB L2-Cache possible, too

Winchester (90 nm SOI)

Venice (90 nm SOI)

San Diego (90 nm SOI)

See also

External links

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