Building on its ever-burgeoning sales and market profile and following the release of Turion for notebooks last week, AMD launched the FX 57 processor, aimed squarely at the hardcore overclocking and gaming market.
Despite taking the name from an old line of processors which previously featured a different socket, the chips won't be dual core like the recently released Athlon 64 X2 range - instead (you guessed it) they'll just be faster, since gamers are judged to appreciate pure speed while they wait for the games industry as a whole to start developing games which use the second core in the X2 chips to maximise performance. Of course when that happens you'll probably need another gigabyte of RAM and we'll be three generations of graphics card down the road, but that's par for the course for a PC Gamer.
"Faster" speeds for this new Athlon 64 means a clockspeed of 2.8GHz, 400MHz over the fastest X2 Athlon and 200MHz more than the old FX 55. It will also sport 1Mb of L2 cache, a 2GHz Hypertransport bus and in a filip to the memory makers, will require DDR533 SRAM for best performance- although there's still no DDR2 support just yet. Not that people who've just bought a new Gigabyte of 400-433MHz speedier RAM will complain.
Another bonus is that there shouldn't be a wholesale scrapping of motherboards overnight for Socket 939 users; it's expected that BIOS upgrades will let the chips sit in those existing boards and have the extra speed (and any advances on cache) recognised. The FX-55s will continue for another six months in parallel as a cheaper option until they finally step aside between Christmas and the traditional farewell period for processors at the end of January 2006.
Unfortunately, a brand new bleeding edge fast chip which can be clocked even higher than specified or be the best thing around for gamers won't come cheap, and at over US$1000 per thousand chips (yes, the price of a PC to most of us), resellers will need to stump up a cool million dollars to even have the chips in stock on launch day. It's this rather than any issues with ramping up production which may mean the processor will only launch in new machines of up to £/$2000 at least until the end of the year in order for dealers to regain any margin off the chips - but the buyers will get bragging rights and a machine with three years in it for gaming anyway. At that price, you'd better not look back at any magazines when the next big thing arrives after this, if you're going to spend silly money on the chip at launch.