Dual core CPU technology definitely took the hardware world by storm in 2005, and from all appearances, look for this trend to continue in 2006. The benefits are very clear, as not only does a new dual core system offer cutting-edge multithreaded performance, but also ultra smooth multi-tasking as well. The ability to perform heavy-duty tasks in the background while system responsiveness stays high, is something that everyone should experience. Overall performance levels continue to improve, and clock speeds are also moving up the chart as well, as both AMD and Intel release higher-clocked dual core models. In fact, Intel has formally moved over to the dual core desktop with their last two processor lines, and AMD has made a very bold move in the same direction, with the release of the dual core Athlon 64 FX-60.
The Athlon 64 FX line really stands for an ideology of personal computing: to offer the fastest gaming performance bar none, and let pricing be damned. That philosophy has held true through all previous iterations of the Athlon 64 FX, right up to the present Athlon 64 FX-57. However, AMD has recently changed gears and proposed that the Athlon 64 FX not be limited to the gaming arena, but will shift towards a more "highest performing desktop" mission statement. To do this in today's environment means transitioning to a dual or multi-core design, and this is exactly what AMD has done with the Athlon 64 FX-60.
The new Athlon 64 FX-60 may sport an FX-based processor brand name, but its architecture shares more in common with the high-end Athlon 64 X2 models. The Athlon 64 FX-60 processor itself uses a 90nm Toledo core, which is comprised of dual San Diego cores on a single die. This translates into a full 1-MB of L2 cache per core, and 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache, or a total of 256KB of L1 and 2-MB of L2 cache per processor. If this sounds a whole lot like an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ or 4400+, you'd be right, and AMD looks to have split off their dual-tiered X2 line at this point, with the FX brand taking over the Toledo core.
The Athlon 64 FX-60 is a standard Socket 939 processor that follows right in the footsteps of the Athlon 64 X2 4800+. Since it features a Toledo core with 2x1-MB L2 cache, this means a full transistor count of 233 million and die size of 199mm2. The thermal power requirement also remains unchanged at 110W and the new processor uses a core voltage of 1.30-1.35V. Naturally, the Athlon 64 FX-60 supports AMD64 and can run both 32- and 64-bit code, as well as featuring support for Cool 'n Quiet technology and Enhanced Virus Protection. The Athlon 64 FX-60, being an FX part, is also the first unlocked dual core model AMD has produced, and this feature can make it very attractive to overclockers.
Core speed is another area we see a change, and the Athlon 64 FX-60 is clocked at 2.6 GHz, or 200 MHz higher than the nearest Athlon 64 X2 and 200 MHz lower than the fastest Athlon 64 FX single core. This positions it very well compared to the existing Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX models, and most importantly, it maintains a 200 MHz advantage compared to the fastest Athlon 64 4000+ or Athlon 64 X2 4800+ models. In terms of physical design and core speed, the Athlon 64 FX-60 is really a hypothetical Athlon 64 5200+ release under the old format, or a Toledo core running at 2.6 GHz. Now that AMD has shifted the latest Toledo model to the Athlon 64 FX line, and will want to keep it top dog for a while, don't expect a competing 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 5000+ Manchester to be released anytime soon.