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Today in our Motherboard Memory Lane series we take on the classic AMD Socket 939 platform. After the heady heyday of the Socket A era, Socket 939 saw AMD build on the 64-bit architecture processors that debut on Socket 754, adding dual channel memory support, improved overclocking and eventually dual-core models. All of which makes it a memorable platform for many overclockers, especially when you thrown in some truly magnificent motherboards from DFI. Come with us as we recall the chipsets and boards that defined the era, plus a few of the scores that were submitted to HWBOT at the time.
The AMD Socket 939 platform arrived on the market in June 2004, just nine months after the company launched its Socket 754 platform. As with Socket 754, the new platform was designed to support the latest Athlon 64 and Sempron processors, eventually going to support Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2 models. The actual Socket 939 design was in fact very similar to Socket 940 (just one pin less) which was essentially AMD’s server platform. Socket 940 supported Opteron and Athlon 64 FX chips which required registered DDR memory. In terms of design Socket 939 was launched as consumer grade platform and featured a dual memory controller and support for more affordable and readily available non-registered memory modules.
At launch the new platform arrived with a new range of Athlon 64 processors, and as with the previous Socket 754 platform, two main chipset options; VIA and Nvidia. At launch the VIA K8T800 competed against the Nvidia nForce3 platform. Eventually the most popular choice with overclockers became the Nvidia nForce4 chipset, a single chip solution that evolved to offer a 1GHz HyperTransport support and SLI support, one of the first AMD platforms to do so. While the standard nForce4 Ultra MCP (Media Communications Processor) offered 20 lanes of PCIe the nForce4 SLI packed 38 lanes of PCIe (which had now replaced the aging AGP interface). The nForce4 Ultra chipset also offered 10 USB 2.0 ports, 2x IDE ports and 4x SATA 3Gbps ports, Gigabit LAN and AC’97 2.3 audio.
Welcome to the latest edition of our Motherboard Memory Lane series here on HWBOT. Following on from our in-depth look at the iconic AMD Socket A platform last week, we now turn our attention to its successor, AMD Socket 754. The Socket retains a slightly odd position in the annals of technological history as it debuted with wholly new and updated 64-bit architecture processor series, yet quickly became the option of choice for budget PC builds as it was eclipsed by the Socket 939 platform. Let’s take a look at the Socket itself, the chipsets and processors that accompanied it, and of course some the landmark scores and submissions that happened during the Socket 754 era.
Introduced in September 2003, the AMD Socket 754 platform was marketed as the replacement for the long standing Socket A (or Socket 462 as was also known). It supported a new range of AMD processors based on architectures that include Newcastle, Venice, Clawhammer and Palermo - all of which come under the AMD K8 architectural umbrella, and were sold under Athlon 64 and Sempron brand names. Although Socket 754 motherboards essentially replaced Socket A motherboards, in most regions the two platforms overlapped. It’s successor, Socket 939 arrived in mid 2004 offering processors with a superior features set that essentially relegated Socket 754 to the budget PC space. This made the platform a popular choice with more affordable AMD Sempron processors.
Today we continue our Mother Memory Lane series, shifting our focus back to the beginning of the last decade, to a time when AMD had the upper hand against Intel in terms of raw performance. Our AMD series of articles kicks off with the classic Socket A (462), a CPU socket and platform which many us will recall with fondness, not least because it also involved some memorably overclockable processors. Let’s take a look at the chipsets, the processors and motherboards that defined the era, plus a few of the outstanding scores that were submitted to HWBOT.
Unlike previous Motherboard Memory Lane articles which focused on a specific platform and a specific chipset, today we’re looking at a platform from AMD which in fact spanned several different chipset designs from companies such as VIA Technologies, Nvidia, SIS and AMD themselves. From an overclocking perspective we can see Nvidia’s nForce chipset series as being the most popular, in particular the Nvidia nForce 2 Ultra 400. The VIA KT400 and KT600 may well have been the most popular in terms of units shipped globally, but it lacked the necessary performance features that overclockers craved. AMD’s 760 series was considerably less popular with SIS featuring heavily in the budget motherboard segment.
AMD’s Socket A used a zero insertion force pin grid array design with 462 pins (hence the alternative Socket 462 naming). It supported a range of K7 architecture AMD processors and core designs that spanned the period from 1999 to 2005. It supported several AMD models that included Duron, Sempron, Athlon, Athlon XP and Athlon XP-M. The AMD Athlon XP series arrived in 2001 and was an immediate hit with enthusiasts, offering superior performance than Intel equivalents, coupled with reasonably competitive prices. The Athlon XP series is regarded by many as AMD’s greatest historical moment in terms of sheer popularity with enthusiasts.
Today we say farewell to our series of Intel-based Motherboard Memory Lane articles on HWBOT, having exhausted history’s quota of Intel Chipsets from the Intel P965 platform to the present day. All of which leads us to the current mainstream Intel platform, the Z270 chipset that was in fact launched just a few months ago. The Z270 chipset arrived with a new Kaby Lake series of backwards compatible processors and the hope of improved overclocking capabilities. Let’s take a look at the chipset, the processors and motherboards, plus a few of the outstanding scores that have been submitted to HWBOT.
First announced back in August 2016, the new Z270 platform was officially launched in January 2017. The Z270 Platform Controller Hub (PCH) was designed as a direct replacement for the previous Z170 that had arrived in August of the previous year. Whereas the 100 series, (codenamed Sunrise Point) included six PCH offerings with Q-,B-,H- and Z- offerings, the 200 series used the codename Union Point and featured five PCH models; the Intel Z270, Q270, H270, Q250 and B250. All members of the Union Point family had specific feature limitations in terms of PCIe lane count and connectivity options. The Z270 remains the high-end model - boasting a full complement of connectivity it is the only family member that allows full CPU and memory overclocking.
A direct comparison of the Intel Z270 PCH and its predecessor reveals very little difference. In short the two main differences are that the Z270 platform offers 24x PCI gen 3.0 lanes direct from the PCH compared to 20x lanes with the Z170. One other new feature that end users can enjoy with a Z270 motherboard is support for Intel Optane Technology. The additional PCIe lanes can be regarded as Intel’s acknowledgment that motherboard vendors were keen to expand support for faster M.2 drives, bringing more bandwidth to the PCH specifically for that reason.
Welcome back to our Motherboard Memory Lane series. This week we’ll actually be looking at a platform that should remain pretty fresh in the memory of most overclockers - the relatively recent Intel Z170 platform. The Intel Z170 platform arrived alongside a brand new batch of Skylake architecture processors just under three years ago and remains a popular platform today. Let’s once again take a look at the motherboards and processor models that were popular in this era, as well as a few of the most exceptional scores and submissions that were made by overclockers on HWBOT.
In the minds of most enthusiasts the newly arrived Skylake architecture processors replaced the previous generation Haswell and Devil’s Canyon architecture chips. This due to the fact that its true predecessor, the Broadwell architecture, basically failed to turn up as a desktop PC option. For most us, Skylake replaced Haswell, just as Z170 replaced Z97.
The Intel Z170 platform officially landed on August 5th 2015, sporting a new CPU socket and a new line of CPUs. Aimed the mainstream PC market, Z170 was eventually joined by several other PCH variants that include the Intel H110, B150, Q150, H170 and Q170. The Z170, as with all Z-series PCH models, was aimed at the enthusiasts and was the only one (at launch) to support CPU multiplier and BCLK overclocking.