The AMD64 initiative is made up of two core ingredients, hardware and software. The Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 processor lines supply the processor component, the nForce3 Pro 150 and K8T800 more than foot the bill on the platform side, and memory manufacturers have been quick to supply registered DDR at consumer levels. Microsoft is hard at work on their 64-bit operating systems, and has even released a downloadable beta version of their 64-bit Windows XP OS. Games and applications are a bit behind that development curve, though it is great to see Unreal Tournament available in a 64-bit version.
In terms of market orientation, the Athlon 64 FX processors cater to the enthusiast crowd and provide the ultra high-end performance and features that this segment demands. The Athlon 64 line is more of a mainstream option, with a less robust memory controller and noticeably lower prices. There was only one real issue with this strategy, as the Athlon 64 3400+ posted impressive performance scores, almost on par with the Athlon 64 FX-51. The solution of course, is to ramp up the enthusiast line, which is exactly what AMD has done with the Athlon 64 FX-53.
The Athlon 64 FX-53 doesn't change the basic architecture of the previous Athlon 64 FX-51 processor, and AMD has kept the same basic model numbering in place. In this case, the Athlon 64 FX-53 is a 200 MHz speed bump to 2.4 GHz, up from the 2.2 GHz of the Athlon 64 FX-51. The basic feature set remains unchanged, and the Athlon 64 FX-53 sports 128K L1 and 1024K L2 on-chip data caches, and features an integrated Northbridge with a dual-channel DDR400 memory controller. It has support for both 64-bit and 32-bit instruction sets and 3DNow! Professional/SSE2 instructions, is produced using 0.13-micron SOI technology, runs at a 1.50V core voltage, and utilizes HyperTransport for the system/CPU bus. The Athlon 64 FX-53 is a Socket 940 processor, and may well be the last in that line, once AMD moves to the integrated Socket 939 format.
Now this higher 2.4 GHz clock speed not only gives the Athlon 64 FX-53 an advantage in terms of pure processing, but due to the synchronous nature of the memory controller and internal bus, can yield higher memory performance as well. Basically, the memory controller runs at the speed of the CPU, so with the Athlon 64 FX-53, there is a 2.4 GHz CPU to memory controller clock speed as well.
This is one of the benefits to this type of architecture, and when moving up the clock speed ladder, integrated Northbridge components also scale to the higher speed. This could also pay higher dividends with a dual-channel DDR architecture like the Athlon 64 FX-53, although even the higher clock speed of the Athlon 64 3400+ and its single-channel DDR controller, showed a nice jump in memory performance.