New Processor Packaging

This content was originally featured on and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

This page is not about the retail box packaging at all, but instead the new processor core packaging that AMD is introducing for their Athlon XP line of processors.

Below are a few pictures of the new AMD Athlon XP 1800+ processor:

Click to Enlarge Images

The change that you notice is the color difference of the CPU. Where before the Thunderbird processors used a ceramic packaging, the new XPs are using an organic material that is nearly identical to the motherboard PCB. It is referred to as OPGA (Organic Pin Grid Array). The major substrate of the new packaging is fiberglass. There are a few advantages to this packaging that pushed AMD in that direction. The first is price – the organic material is much cheaper to produce than ceramic and anything that cuts down on cost is going to be a big plus to computer and technology companies in these economic times. The organic material also produces less impedance to the electrical signals than the previous ceramic packaging. Also, for those that are interested, AMD will be making all of the Athlon XP processors at the AMD Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany.

In the picture below you will see the new Athlon XP 1800+ processor next to the Athlon Thunderbird 1.4 GHz. The height difference that you see has raised a few eyebrows and questions from concerned individuals.

Click to Enlarge Image

The concern is that some heatsinks that may have not be as tightly held to the core of the Thunderbird may in fact either make no contact or less contact to the core because the XP packaging is thinner. AMD told me basically that any heatsink that is on the approved list for the Thunderbird processors will be safe with any of the XP line of processors. They made no promises about those heatsinks that are not on their approved list and said basically that the user is taking the responsibility for use of any unapproved items. So check the approved HSF list before plopping just any heatsink down on your new Athlon XP processor.

I used 5 different heatsinks on the Athlon XP 1800+ processor without any problems. The Tai Sol Copper Bottom HSF, the Silver Mountain, the SK-6 and two different Cooler Master models. So, that should give a decent idea that most current mode heatsinks should work well on the newer processors, despite the change in thickness.

« PreviousNext »