There's been much discussion about the upcoming battle between Intel's new Conroe desktop chip and AMD's new platform AM2. Some interesting theories are emerging...
To give some context, we saw Conroe playing FEAR back at the Intel Developer Forum in March and reported our initial impressions.
Those impressions were that Conroe - which is based on a new low-power architecture - is going to be a stonkingly fast gaming chip.
AMD's next iteration of its desktop technology for gamers will be a continuation of its current processor family but on a new platform. AM2 is a new socket type and moves AMD users to DDR 2 memory. New processors based on AM2 will also have lower power requirements, with chips that today come in at 89W - such as the X2 line - moving down to 65W and even 35W in some cases, giving similar thermal profiles to Intel's efficient Conroe chips.
Anandtech has been benchmarking AM2
and has come to the conclusion that not only is it only barely faster than existing AMD solutions, but it's clearly not going to hold a candle to the performance leap that Intel will be making - so they suggest. This has gotten AMD fans up in arms about testing and next generation chips.
After all, if there's no performance increase through moving to the new architecture, why should users bother upgrading - or why should AMD bother moving?
Ars Technica has an interesting write-up
addressing just that issue. In a nutshell, they believe that the extra bandwidth of DDR 2 memory - which won't really make much of a performance difference on the desktop - will be a massive benefit to server systems that user two, four or even eight individual processors, each with dual or quad cores. The on-chip memory controller that AMD has might well allow it to beat down Intel in this server space, despite Intel's attempts to ramp up the FSB on newer chips.
The speculation is that AMD will ramp up the pressure on Conroe later on in this year or early next year with some 65nm chips of its own, for higher clock speeds and a possible new architecture.
Are you contemplating a switch to Conroe if you upgrade later this year? Is AMD facing problems for the rest of 2006? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.