So, you're AMD, your latest processor launch hasn't gone quite as well as you might have hoped, so what do you do? Resurrect the K8/AMD64 architecture you first launched at the tail end of 2003 of course. Admittedly K8 has undergone a fair few changes since its inception, notably the move to dual-core and a process shrink to 65nm. All that is fairly moot though because the important thing is that starting from Q1 next year, we'll be seeing 11 new ‘Brisbane' based Athlon 64 X2 chips.
The refresh, so to speak, is an almost direct transition of AMD's current 90nm chips to 65nm, although it's worth noting that a reduction of the chips Level 2 cache sizes, from 1MB per core to 512KB per core is also part of the move. To compensate the chips will have slightly higher clock speeds, and of course the die shrink also means lower TDPs, down from 89W to 65W. The first processor to make the jump will be the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ getting a small boost from 2.8GHz to 2.9GHz to compensate for the L2 cache reductions. Later in the year three ‘Energy Efficient' Athlons will be released, called the 4850e, 4450e and 4050e and clocked at 2.5GHz, 2.3GHz and 2.1GHz respectively; these three chips will all have 45W TDPs.
Importantly all the new chips are based on the AM2 interface, meaning they'll slot into newer AM2+ boards as well, which will enable budding customers to upgrade to a new, faster, processor without needing a new motherboard.
Alongside this news is the comment from AMD CEO Hector Ruiz that AMD's immediate and highest priority goal is to return to profitability. If refocusing efforts and resources on last generations architecture is the way to do that, what does that say for Phenom?