If you go here, and click on some pictures, you’ll see some updated AMD roadmaps for both processors and chipsets.
The impression you get is that AMD plans to abandon socket 754 as a performance platform as soon as it decently can and make that the value platform.
Newcastle, which is supposed to be the 512K version of the desktop Hammer (and I suspect the eventual mainstream processor) will come in both socket 754 and 939 versions. However, the 90nm successor, Winchester, is just socket 939.
After Newcastle, the only socket 754 processor to come out after it is the “little” 256K cache Paris, which clearly belongs to the value sector.
So current Athlon 64 owners may find themselves effectively orphaned within a year.
Indeed, the Athlon 64 roadmap ends with Winchester, and only an FX processor shows up for 2005.
Perhaps more ominously, the AMD roadmap does not give socket designations to its 2005 processors. Everything we’ve seen up to now indicates that AMD will stick with DDR in 2004, and only move to DDR2 later on.
We’ve suggested in the past that AMD’s 2005 processors will simply be 90nm Hammers with a DDR2 memory controller. We suggest now that just like DDR2 will require a socket change for Intel (from socket 478 to socket T); DDR2 will require the same for AMD.
The chipset information seems to indicate that PCI Express boards will show up around the same time as Newcastle, and that there won’t be any big changes there until 2005 (the chipsets listed for production towards the end of 2004 look to be all integrated boards).
Based on this information, we think it particularly unwise to buy a socket 754 platform for a performance system.
The most likely mainstream Hammer product this audience is likely to buy to any real degree will probably be a Newcastle/socket 939 system platform. The reduced cache will lower performance a bit, but not all that much (perhaps 3-5%). Unless AMD is suicidal, Newcastle prices will probably be fairly reasonable.
It also looks fairly likely that the generation of mobos that will come out at the same time probably will be able to also handle 90nm CPUs a bit later on.
2005 is anybody’s guess, though. For right now, it looks like we’ll see a new platform using DDR2, which in turn will have a fairly limited lifespan since the K9 is supposed to show up in late 2005/early 2006.