AMD's Athlon 64 FX-53
The FX Gets Its First Speed Bump...

By, Marco Chiappetta
March 18, 2004

Almost 6 months have passed since the initial release of the AMD Athlon 64.  In September '03, AMD released two new desktop processors, the Athlon 64 3200+ clocked at 2.0GHz and a premium product dubbed the Athlon 64 FX-51, clocked at 2.2GHz.  The FX and standard Athlon 64 shared the same base architecture, but with the FX-51 AMD kept the 128-bit memory controller found in their Opteron line of server CPUs intact.  The standard Athlon 64's memory controller is 64-bits wide and doesn't require the use of registered DIMMs.  The FX-51 was to be AMD's premium product, targeted at hardcore enthusiasts who crave the highest performance available.  We took an in-depth look at the new architecture, features and performance of the Athlon 64 FX in this launch article.  If you haven't already done so, please check it out, as it contains a myriad of useful information pertaining to the new processor we'll be looking at today, the AMD Athlon 64-FX 53.

With the Athlon 64 FX-53, AMD's engineers spent some time tweaking their relatively new .13 micron Silicon On Insulator (SOI) manufacturing process and were able to ratchet its clock speed up to 2.4GHz, an increase of about 9% over the already speedy FX-51.  The excitement surrounding AMD's Athlon 64 FX has also prompted memory manufacturers to produce low-latency registered memory modules.  As things have matures for the Athlon FX,  AMD has been able to wring out a bit of extra performance and chipset vendors have added features to the platform as well.  Read on and see what a little time and energy has done for the Athlon 64 FX.


Specifications of the AMD Athlon 64 FX-53
It's An FX-51, Only Faster!

When utilizing the AMD64 Instruction Set Architecture, 64-bit mode is designed to offer:

  • Support for 64-bit operating systems to provide full, transparent, and simultaneous 32-bit and 64-bit platform application multitasking.
  • A physical address space that can support systems with up to one terabyte of installed RAM, shattering the 4 gigabyte RAM barrier present on all current x86 implementations.
  • Sixteen 64-bit general-purpose integer registers that quadruple the general purpose register space available to applications and device drivers.
  • Sixteen 128-bit XMM registers for enhanced multimedia performance to double the register space of any current SSE/SSE2 implementation.

Integrated DDR memory controller:

  • Allows for a reduction in memory latency, thereby increasing overall system performance.

An advanced HyperTransport link:

  • This feature dramatically improves the I/O bandwidth, enabling much faster access to peripherals such as hard drives, USB 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet cards.
  • HyperTransport technology enables higher performance due to a reduced I/O interface throttle.

Large level one (L1) and level 2 (L2) on-die cache:

  • With 128 Kbytes of L1 cache and 1 Mbyte of L2 cache, the AMD Athlon 64 processor is able to excel at performing matrix calculations on arrays.
  • Programs that use intensive large matrix calculations will benefit from fitting the entire matrix in the L2 cache.

64-bit processing:

  • A 64-bit address and data set enables the processor to process in the terabyte space.
  • Many applications improve performance due to the removal of the 32-bit limitations.
Processor core clock-for-clock improvements:
  • Including larger TLB (Translation Look-Aside Buffers) with reduced latencies and improved branch prediction through four times the number of bimodal counters in the global history counter, as compared to seventh-generation processors.
  • These features drive improvements to the IPC, by delivering a more efficient pipeline for CPU-intensive applications.
  • CPU-intensive games benefit from these core improvements.
  • Introduction of the SSE2 instruction set, which along with support of 3DNow! Professional, (SSE and 3DNow! Enhanced) completes support for all industry standards.
  • 32-bit instruction set extensions.

Fab location: AMD's Fab 30 wafer fabrication facility in Dresden, Germany

Process Technology: 0.13 micron SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology

Die Size: 193mm2

Transistor count: Approximately 105.9 million

Nominal Voltage: 1.50v


L1 Cache Size: 64KB data + 64KB instruction = 128KB Total
L2 Cache Size: 1MB (exclusive)
CPU Core Frequency: 2.40GHz
CPU to Memory Controller: 2.40GHz
Memory: Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
Types of Memory: PC1600 - PC3200 Registered DDR memory
HyperTransport Links: 1
Packaging: 940-pin ceramic micro PGA
Fab location: AMD's Fab 30 facility in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 130nm (.13-micron) Silicon on Insulator (SOI)
Approximate Transistor count: 105.9 million
Approximate Die Size: 193mm squared
Nominal Voltage: 1.50 V
Max Ambient Case Temp: 70 degrees Celsius
Max Thermal Power: 89 W

The technical specifications above reveal that not much has changed since the introduction of the FX-53, other than its increased clock speed.  The Athlon 64 FX-53 is clocked at a default speed of 2.4GHz, an increase of 200MHz from the FX-51's 2.2GHz.  The new FX-53 is built using the same .13 micron Silicon on Insulator (SOI) manufacturing process, uses the same 940-pin socket, and is equipped with the same amount of on-die cache.  Essentially, what we have here today is simply a higher clocked FX-51 - which of course, is a good thing.

On board virus protection coming to an Athlon 64 near you? -

Although, there isn't anything new to report on the feature front, there is an existing feature that has gotten some press as of late with the impending release of Windows XP Service Pack 2.  All Athlon 64 and Opteron CPUs are enabled with AMDs Enhanced Virus Protection feature, that will work in conjunction with the upcoming Service Pack 2.  What this feature does is render some virus types, specifically buffer overrun exploits, inoperable which in-turn prevents them from replicating and infecting other systems.  With the increasing number of viruses and worms as of late, any feature designed to help prevent them from spreading and to provide a more secure environment is welcome in our book.  For more information on AMDs Enhanced Virus Protection, check out this link.

A Closer Look at the FX-53