Generally when new products are pushed out to the market, especially for a large-scale launch such as the Socket AM2 briefing this morning, the prices for these new commodities are top-dollar, but that is not necessarily the case today. Not only had Advanced Micro Devices launched the new AM2 Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 products, but they had also delivered the AM2 Sempron series, which are designed to be the budget competition and compete with Intel's Celeron. The AMD budget contenders in this new category will consist of the Sempron 3000+, 3200+, 3400+, 3500+, and 3600+. The suggested retail price for these new budget processors will range from $65 USD to a little bit over $100. Parts should be widely available in early June.
Not only has AMD pushed out processors for the penny-pinching enthusiasts, but ASRock has been quick to demonstrate its AM2NF4G-SATA2. The AM2NF4G-SATA2 is designed to live up to ASRock's legacy of providing cheap yet innovative motherboards, and this latest product comes with support for Socket AM2 solutions. Partially why ASRock was able to deliver this motherboard so fast and at such an exuberant price was because the product is based upon already existing core-logic. Concealed behind the traditional heatsinks on the AM2NF4G-SATA2 is a GeForce 6100 and nForce 410 combination, in fact the motherboard is almost a mere replica of the recently reviewed 939NF4G-SATA2. This design is possible thanks to the memory controller being located on the processor itself rather than the Chipset. The only differences with the ASRock AM2 motherboard are the CPU socket, DIMM interface, and a few minor alterations.
While the AM2NF4G-SATA2 does not come packed with a NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI, it should prove to be a great introductory AM2 motherboard. Outside of the pure cost analysis of implementing an already existing motherboard design, any new compatibility issues that the new AM2-oriented Chipsets will face under Linux should not plague the product. With the pricing, it will be possible to purchase an AM2NF4G-SATA2 motherboard and AMD Sempron for under $200 USD, which certainly should prove to be a darn good deal and should yield some competitive results.
When it comes to budget users, ASRock has already been pushing their 939Dual-SATA2 and 939SLI32-eSATA2 parts for a few months now and both of these solutions boast an upgradeable "Future CPU port". Similar to some of ASRock's past motherboards, the future CPU port will allow current Socket 939 users with these motherboards to simply buy an upgrade card from ASRock. While architectural wise existing S939 Chipsets are compatible with AM2 CPUs, due to changes in the physical CPU socket and memory slots, a new motherboard would be required unless using one of these ASRock upgrades. The ASRock AM2 upgrade card for these motherboards will be on display in Taiwan for Computex Taipei 2006, and we do anticipate the product will reach production in early June. The card itself is largely a new CPU socket and a set of DDR2-800 slots.
Outside of the new requirements for the AM2 socket, the AM2NF4G-SATA2 does boast Realtek's brand spankin' new audio codec. The ALC888 Telecom is Realtek's new child that offers many VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) improvements -- with both Skype and other applications. It works great with high end business voip services as well. The audio device also has the capabilities to switch from its primary Internet telephony over to a traditional PSTN service. The Realtek ALC888 supports 7.1-channel audio.
Other features for the micro-ATX AM2NF4G-SATA2 include two Serial ATA 2.0 ports, IDE ATA-133, four DDR2-800 slots supporting up to 8GB of RAM, and NVIDIA integrated graphics. The LAN support on the ASRock motherboard consists of the Realtek RTL8201CL Fast Ethernet PHY.
We will have all of our AM2 performance results coming up shortly, which does consist of some AM2NF4G-SATA2 benchmarks, but in the time being we have up some images of the ASRock AM2NF4G-SATA2.