Power efficiency is something that is often put on the back burner when new power consuming products are released upon the masses. Whether it's CPUs, video cards or even power supplies, most consumers are only concerned with "How fast or how powerful is it?"
AMD is one of many companies who have put more emphasis on power efficiency. Just last fall, AMD announced a 35W dual core processor intended for the small form factor market. AMD admits to underestimating potential demand as the initial launch of 35W processors were in limited supply, most of which was gobbled up by OEMs. AMD realized there was a real demand for a low power desktop CPU put together a roadmap to meet consumer expectations.
Today marks the addition of some new members to the Brisbane family of processors with the AMD Athlon X2 dual core BE-2350 (which will receive the majority of our coverage) and BE-2300 processors. Along with even lower power consumption than the 65W Brisbane CPUs, there is now a new naming convention that should reduce some of confusion surrounding the names of some of their current products.
AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350
The AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 is a 2.1GHz part and should be readily available at about $90 USD from your favorite e-tailer. As with the 1.9GHz BE-2300, the BE-2350 is a 45W part. While a bit too power sapping for notebooks, this power consumption is extremely low for a desktop processor.
Looking at the pictures, the CPU looks pretty much like your typical AMD AM2 part, but there are some notable changes this time around. To start, the naming conventions have changed in order to make identifying the processors less confusing. Nothing will change for processors prior to June 5th, 2007, and the traditional naming scheme will continue until those products phase out of AMD's lineup.
Gone will be the "64" from the Athlon X2 name. Yes, the pictures above say otherwise, but by the time most of you are grabbing it off the shelves, the name will have changed. As all their processors are simultaneous 64/32-bit x86 CPUs, the "64" was becoming redundant. Moving forward, the new naming convention breaks down into an alpha numeric format of AA - ####. In regards to the AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 we're covering today, the first two characters are "BE". These letters represent the processor class, in which the "BE" class is comprised of sub-65W processors.
Technical specs are as follows:
Processor: AMD Athlon X2 dual core processor BE-2350
CPU Core Count: 2
Operating Frequency: 2.1GHz
L1 Cache Size: 64K - L1 instruction + 64K - L1 data cache per-core (256KB total L1)
L2 Cache Size: 512KB L2 data cache per-core (1MB total dedicated L2 cache)
Manufactured: Fab 30 and 36 / Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 65-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Transistor count: 221 million
Approximate Die Size: 118 mm2
Packaging: Socket AM2 (940-pin organic micro PGA)
HyperTransport Spec: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ 2.0GHz (1GHz DDR) full duplex (up to 8.0 GB/sec bandwidth)
Memory Controller: One integrated 128-bit dual-channel memory controller (up to 12.8GB/sec bandwidth)
Supported Memory Speeds: DDR 2 memory up to and including PC2 6400 (DDR2-800) unbuffered
Total Processor bandwidth: Up to 20.8 GB/sec
Nominal Voltage: 1.15- 1.20 V
Max Thermal Power: 45W
Max Processor Current: 36.5 A
Min P-State (power management): 1.0 GHz
What's in a Name?
The first letter defines the actual class of processor. High-end processors are currently slated to be "G" class, and will be Phenom based X4 and X2. The "B" class, which is what we're covering today, will be the mainstream performance processors. The "L" class CPUs are the budget and entry level processors.
The second character represents the Thermal Design Power (TDP). Anything higher than 65W will be classified as "P" class. Those rated for 65W are "S" class and "E" are all processors rated under 65W. The BE-2350 has a TDP of 45W.
Moving on to the numbered portion of the name, the first numeric digit after the dash is the processor series of the CPU. The "2" in the BE-2350 means the CPU is part of the AMD Athlon X2 family of processors. The last three numeric digits: BE-2350 after the dash represents the position of the CPU within its class series. Basically, the higher the number, the faster it is. Therefore, the BE-2350 is a higher class of processor than the BE-2300.
Ultimately, this is aimed at making identifying a processor quicker and easier. Right now, if you were to shop for an AMD CPU, you'll likely see something along the lines of "AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 5000+ Socket AM2 (65W)". There's no equivalent of that specific chip today with the new name, but if looking at the BE-2350, you'd know immediately it's a 32/64-bit desktop part, rated at less than 65W of power consumption, and it's a higher class than the BE-2300.
Initially we were wondering why AMD didn't use frequencies in the name (say BE-2100 as the BE-2350 is 2.1GHz), but according to their explanation, as new processors arrive, they may also operate at similar frequencies, but will perform differently. As we've seen in the past few years, clock speed is not the only measure of performance and the previous performance rating is not an accurate gauge depending on the usage scenarios. This is especially the case in multi-core environments. That being said, we still don't find the latest naming convention terribly intuitive, but in time as new processors arrive, this should become more clear.