Socket 939 vs. socket 940 . . .

AMD apparently tried to explain why AMD needs to go to socket 939.

There’s something very false and something very true in those statements.

What is very false is any implication that the socket itself needs to be changed.

What is very true is that a server motherboard and a server CPU is a much different thing than a gamer motherboard and gamer CPU, and AMD doesn’t want the additional complications and costs of making the two meet.

The Opteron-That-Isn’t-An-Opteron (aka Athlon FX) is still an Opteron. It’s at most a slightly modified server chip, and to meet the demands of the server population, not the gamer population.

It is built to meet certain standards which slow it down a bit and increases cost, in return for increased reliability. Standards like 6-layer plus mobos, and registered RAM.

It’s not built to be a gamer board, and the FX isn’t meant to be a gamer chip.

You may say, “but the FX does so well at games!” True, but irrelevant. The FX does that despite its server origins (and a lot of the same can be said about Intel’s Extreme Edition). Take that Hammer core and build a platform designed for gaming, and it will do even better.

It would also do so cheaper. Build a motherboard that isn’t quite the brick an Opteron mobo is, one that emphasizes speed over reliability, and you can make one for less money.

Well, Why Didn’t They Build That In The First Place?

That’s what we were saying about eighteen months ago here and here. This didn’t dawn on AMD until a few months ago. What can I say, some people are slower than others. 🙂

AMD basically decided they had to have a dual-channel gamer system at the last minute, and since they never developed a dual-channel gamer system, they tossed out the best they did have, which was a dual-channel server system.

That’s what all the BSing is about. AMD doesn’t want to admit they screwed up their planning.

To be fair, when they did so, Intel was caught flat-footed, too. So they did much the same thing with one of their Xeons.

Now AMD is building the gamer platform and CPU they should have built in the first place, and that will be socket 939 and San Diego. Which won’t work with socket 940 platforms.

And that’s fine, so long as we know. If you want an Opteron, buy an FX. If you want a real gamer platform, faster, cheaper, wait for socket 939.

Is that aggravating? Sure, but in the long run, there is a silver lining behind the cloud. By clearly separating gaming and server platforms, AMD won’t feel the need to keep prices of the gaming platforms sky-high so as to protect their Opteron pricing structure. That should mean much lower socket 939 prices.

When you have an Opteron That Isn’t An Opteron, you don’t dare make the price of the FX significantly lower than on a single-processor Opteron, because people will just buy FXs rather than single-processor Opterons. That means FX prices will stay sky-high.

Have a socket 939 system that is good enough for gamers, but not quite good enough for workstation/server use, and you can drop the price of the gamer chip considerably more without automatically savaging your workstation/server sales.

Cheaper, faster, better for what you want to do, that equals “Wait.”


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