Just when you thought the next big thing from AMD would either be Barton (their 512KB L2 cache version of the Athlon XP) or K8 (ClawHammer), AMD surprised us yet again with a big leap in processor frequency with the new Athlon XP 2600+ processor. The new Athlon XP 2600+ landed in our lab less than a week before their big announcement today and we have been keeping ourselves busy testing this new processor.
As the processor is still an engineering sample from AMD, information about the processor is still rather scarce and although we would have loved to give you the technical specifications of this silicon, we are not able to do so at this point of time. But what we can tell you is that this chip is based on the new Thoroughbred core and AMD has kept it in such secrecy that the test system shipped to us did not recognize the processor at all.
Since the Thoroughbred core is based on AMD's latest 0.13µm manufacturing technology, the die size is significantly smaller than the previous Palomino core. The feature set and Level 2 cache size remains the same but power consumption is significantly lowered due to the lower voltage requirements of the processor. Not much information was provided with respect to the power dissipation but we were pleasantly surprised that the heat emitted from the processor was more or less tamed by our Thermaltake Volcano 6Cu+. This is indeed good news for upgraders.
The new Athlon XP 2600+ is still based on the familiar Socket-A form factor. This means that upgraders will not need to upgrade their Socket-A motherboard if all they want is just to boost their system processor frequency. However, the Athlon XP 2600+ is still based on the 133MHz (266MHz EV6) bus architecture which is quite a letdown considering that VIA KT400 motherboards have just begun to flood the marketplace. Sad to say that some of the rumors on the net were wrong and AMD is not yet ready to release any 166MHz (333MHz EV6) FSB part at this time. Still, we may never know what other tricks are up in AMD's sleeves, so we'd rather not dismiss that possibility at this point in time.