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Special FX
In what might be considered a shrewd move, Intel ushered in their 65nm dual core Extreme Edition 955 processor during the lull between Christmas and New Year. At this time the fastest AMD dual core offering was the X2 4800+, a fast processor but not really aimed at gamers and enthusiasts. Well, as of today all that changes with the introduction of FX60, the first dual-core FX processor to be announced by the jolly green giant.

Click to enlargeThe latest product of Dresden, the FX60 features two full 2.6GHz cores each with 1MB L2 cache. Each core also boasts 64K of L1 instruction cache and 64K of L1 data cache.

In terms of fabrication AMD are still playing catch-up. Intel's Presler-based processors are blazing the dual-core trail with their 65nm process while AMD are currently stuck at 90nm. Intel's inherently hot NetBurst architecture forced Intel into making the transition to 65nm much sooner. AMD's desktop processors generally run cooler and so the pressure to shrink their dies isn't quite so intense.

On the exterior AMD are still using organic micro-PGA and the CPU should be compatible with most socket-939 motherboards, only requiring a BIOS update.

The processor die is pretty large at around 199mm2 and crams in 233 million transistors. The shared 128-bit integrated memory controller runs at full CPU speed and AMD quote a total effective data bandwidth of 14.4GB/sec. That's 8GB/sec on the HyperTransport link and 6.4GB/sec memory bandwidth.

Click to enlarge

At 2.6GHz per core, the FX60 is essentially two FX55s sat side by side on the same package. The good news for overclockers is that the CPU is fully multiplier unlocked, as will be the Extreme Edition 955 we understand.

Because FX60 operates at 2.6GHz per core it stands to reason that it will trail the FX57 on pure, single-threaded applications as that operates at 2.8GHz. It's when multi-threading that the FX60 shines.

You might remember the Extreme Edition 955 (EE955) CPU tended to run a touch warm, a trait I expected to see in equal measure from the FX60. Initial evidence supported my hypothesis; 49 Celsius while idle, a full four degrees higher than the EE955 idled at. Under load the efficiency of the Athlon 64's core design shines through, with temperatures never going above 57C, that's over 20 degrees cooler than the 955 recorded. This means that the FX60 is a viable choice for small form factor computers.