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Review: AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 10 January 2006, 04:45

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaeh3

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A closer look

CPU

The OPN code of ADAFX60DAA6CD tells you that it's an Athlon 64 (ADA), FX-60 (FX60), Socket 939 (D), variable V-core (A), variable temperature (A), 2MiB L2 total (6), E6 revision 'JH' dual-core processor (D). Turning it over to see the 939 pins would show you nothing you haven't seen before.

A new cooler? Not quite, but close

When FX-57 was released it was shipped solely with a PIB cooler developed by AVC. Since launch, AMD have also sought out another model to ship along with FX-57 and their other ~100W CPUs. That other model is what'll also ship with FX-60. Manufactured by Coolermaster and called CMHK8-8I22A-A2, let's have a closer look at it.

Cooler

You can see a top-down shot here and bottom shot here.

Compared to the first FX-57 PIB cooler, the Coolermaster has all four heatpipes aligned on one side of the cooler, rather than two per side. The cooler, including heatpipes, is also around 5mm shorter in major width, although it retains the same 62mm height. The fan is an 80x20mm Delta, up from 70x15mm on the first FX-57 PIB example, allowing the fan to move a larger air volume at the same fan speed, or the same volume at reduced speed.

Presumably the differing cooler design and fan are primarily to achieve the latter, making this PIB cooler even quieter under the same conditions as the AVC. It appears, although we can't confirm, that the cooler also comes supplied with a Dow Corning thermal material, whereas the AVC cooler is equipped with a Shin-Etsu thermal pad. The heatpipes are outwardly identical with a 5mm width and equivalent length, and we're told they each have a 30W capacity, making the CMHK8-8I22A-A2 a 120W capacity device.

The differences add up to something that's smaller overall, but has the ability to cool better at the same fan speed and equivalent levels of noise. We'd hazard a guess that this PIB cooler revision will also see service with the next speed grade of Athlon 64, Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2, if and when they appear.

Performance and environmental levels due to software

We mentioned the use of the CPU in a Windows XP PC earlier in the article, based on the time of writing on release of the CPU (10th January 2006), largely because of Cool 'n' Quiet, a processor driver from AMD for Windows XP for their dual-core range, and the availability of a post-Service Pack 2 hotfix for dual-core processors.

The processor driver allows the OS to adjust the performance level of the CPU cores via multiplier and voltage (P-states), based on CPU demand (also known as demand-based switching or DBS). The driver is therefore a recommended installation, giving rise to power savings and less heat output when the CPU is idle.

However, Windows XP with Service Pack 2 doesn't correctly identify CPU load in all cases, which can lead to it setting a lesser P-state than would normally be required, lessening absolute performance with the side effect of better environmental performance.

The hotfix, not generally available for download from any microsoft.com site, changes that to affect proper adjust of the CPU P-states for the right performance levels, trading off the environmental sides previously mentioned.

On top of that is Cool 'n' Quiet, which, at least initially, may not even be available for FX-60 until BIOS engineers add in the correct IDs to the CnQ tables to let that feature work correctly.

So depending on BIOS revision, CPU driver installation and presence of the slightly unavailable hotfix, differing performance and environmental levels will be experienced. Something to keep an eye on. More on that on our system setup page for the benchmark tests.