Intel has been very active on the processor front, not only releasing the first quad core desktop processor, the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, but also extending that line with a lower priced Core 2 Quad Q6600 model. AMD countered with the Quad FX, but in terms of conventional single-processor releases, there has not been a speed upgrade since the 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-62. Part of the problem has been AMD's transition of the Athlon 64 FX brand to the Quad FX platform, which represents the high-end of their desktop line, and currently has a top clock speed of 3.0 GHz.
AMD's stated goal of offering the Athlon 64 FX as its highest clocked desktop part - and the Athlon 64 X2 a step back - definitely played a part in this delay. Although the Quad FX did not receive a corresponding speed upgrade, AMD has finally gotten back on the single-processor horse and increased dual core performance to 3.0 GHz. The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ takes over where the Athlon 64 FX-62 left off, ramping up core speeds by 200 MHz to an even 3.0 GHz, while maintaining support for the AM2 platform and dual-channel DDR2.
AMD's newest desktop processor represents the official move to 3.0 GHz for the mainstream AM2 platform, something that has been a long time coming. AMD could have made the move earlier, and did with the Quad FX-oriented Athlon 64 FX-74, but now 3.0 GHz is a reality on AMD's most popular desktop platform. In terms of architecture, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ may be part of the Athlon 64 X2 line, but it is actually an upgrade to the existing Athlon 64 FX-62. AMD has been playing the name game for awhile now, first by transitioning the Athlon 64 X2 2x1MB configuration to the Athlon 64 FX core, then later proposing to get rid of that classification entirely, and more recently, going back to the dual-tiered Athlon 64 X2 hierarchy and moving the Athlon 64 FX line to the Quad FX platform.
The base architecture of the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ features 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core, for a total of 256KB of L1 cache. The processor's L2 configuration offers 1MB of L2 data cache per core, which translates into 2MB of dedicated L2 cache. Although AMD has made the 65nm transition with the lower-speed models, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ remains a 90nm SOI part. Basically, what we have here is a 3.0 GHz version of the Athlon 64 FX-62, with some slight modifications. As this is not officially an FX model, the clock generator is locked, so overclockers will not get the ease-of-use that a true Athlon 64 FX offers. In terms of architecture, performance, and other base feature, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is top-of-the-line when it comes to the AM2 platform.
The clock speed is the most obvious improvement, and the 200 MHz ramp up to 3.0 GHz does represent a significant leap, even if most of it plays out as a mental edge for AMD. Clock speed comparisons are meaningless between differing processor architectures, but AMD has still jumped past the 2.93 GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800. The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ sports an integrated DDR2 memory controller that can handle up to dual-channel DDR2, offering a theoretical max bandwidth of 12.8 GB/second.
The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ includes support for AMD64, HyperTransport, Enhanced Virus Protection, and AMD Virtualization technology, while physical specs are very FX-like, with a core voltage of 1.35V-1.4V, a thermal power rating of 125W, a processor current of 90.4 A, and a transistor count of 227.4 million. The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ also supports AMD Cool'n'Quiet, and offers power-saving specifications of 1.1V core voltage, 36.4W thermal power and a 1.0 GHz ramped-down clock speed.
The only caveat to the 3.0 GHz clock speed is that it brings up the old DDR2 ratio boogeyman. Due to the initial Athlon 64 being designed around DDR-400 and the 200 MHz base clock generator, increasing DDR2 clock speeds do bring up some issues. Since DDR2-533, -667, -800, etc, are no longer tied to a standard 200 MHz base clock, processors with an "uneven" clock generator (11, 13, 15, etc.) run at a slightly lower memory speed, especially using DDR2-800.
The 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-62 features a 14x clock multiplier and an 800 MHz DDR2 link, so naturally the 3.0 GHz Athlon 64 X2 6000+ with its 15x multiplier can only support approximate DDR2 speeds of 746 MHz. This discrepancy really only comes up in some memory-specific benchmarks, and as the 11.9 GB/s of memory bandwidth is not far removed from the 12.9 GB/s of the Athlon 64 FX-62, there is virtually no real-world difference.