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Topic Title: Processor Explanation & Installation Guide
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Created On: 06/04/2004 11:01 PM
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 06/04/2004 11:01 PM
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Whether or not you have the AMD based retail processor solution is extremely important. You MUST have some kind of heatsink/fan combination on your modern processors or it can overheat in mere seconds...and thermal breakdown caused by insufficient cooling is not covered by your AMD or vendor warranty! You can easily tell if you have an AMD Retail Processor by looking at your fan - it'll have an AMD Logo Sticker on it if it was already installed, or it will come in a neat, retail-looking box with a fan, heatsink, and processor... and maybe a cool AMD sticker!

The first thing to look at when installing your processor is to make sure that you have a processor, which I will call a CPU from now on for simplicity's sake, that will "fit" into and be compatible with your motherboard. Currently, Athlon, AthlonXP, and Duron CPUs fit into Socket A motherboards. (The Socket style is determined by the pin configuration on the bottom of the chip. NEVER, EVER TOUCH THE PINS. ALWAYS HANDLE THE CPU BY THE OUTER EDGES, MAKING SURE TO NEVER TOUCH THE METAL CONTACTS. Latent oils in your hand can interfere with performance, believe it or not (Source: Arctic Silver website.)

Now, Socket A has been around since at LEAST 2001, and needless to say there have been significant advances in motherboards, most notably and understandably, the Front-side Bus, or FSB. Essentially, this is how fast the processor will talk to the rest of the system, and it is a number that represents Megahertz, or 1,000,000 cycles per second (MHz or 1/sec). The processor should be used in a motherboard that can make the most use of its abilities. For example, the modern AthlonXP lines run at a FSB of 166 MHz (333 If considering DDR), while older ones use 100 and 133 MHz. Now, if you're upgrading from a motherboard that only supports 100 or 133 MHz processors, you will be unable to run the processor at it's highest ability. And if it's a locked processor, meaning it's multiplier (the driving value, which is multiplied by the FSB to determine the total clockspeed in MHz) will be locked and you'll be unable to run at full processor speed.

Lingo Heads-up: Cores are specific models within each processor, usually much different than its predecessors. Very important to understand this. The current cores are: AthlonXP - Barton, Duron - Applebred, Athlon64 - Newcastle/Clawhammer, Athlon64-FX & Opteron - Sledgehammer.) For a closer look at the core differences, click the roadmap image in my signature.

Abit KT7-A Motherboard, 100FSB, Socket A with Athlon 1100 Thunderbird Core
Athlon 1100 Multiplier: 11x
Athlon 1100 FSB Maximum: 100 MHz
Multiplier (11) * FSB [Actual] (100) = Clockspeed (1100 MHz). This processor is at full speed.

BUT, if I upgraded my processor and not my motherboard, you'd see this, assuming I installed a AthlonXP 1800+ Processor featuring the Palomino Core:
AthlonXP 1800+ Multiplier: 11.5
AthlonXP 1800+ FSB Maximum: 133 MHz
Multiplier (11.5) * FSB [Actual] (100) = Clockspeed (1150 MHz). This processor is NOT at full speed.

Now I upgrade to a motherboard that can run at the full FSB:

Abit KR7A Motherboard, 133FSB, Socket A with AthlonXP 1800+ Palomino Core
AthlonXP 1800+ Multiplier: 11.5
AthlonXP 1800+ FSB Maximum: 133 MHz
Multiplier ( ) * FSB [Actual] (133) = Clockspeed (1529 MHz). This processor is at full speed.

Back to the topic at hand!
You're going to want to clean the heatsink base off very well, unless you have the Retail Box version of the processor. If you do, skip to the next section. Clean the base of the heatsink - and if you have an AMD Athlon64 or Opteron Processor with a HEATSPREADER (no exposed core/die), with Isopropyl Alcohol with no less purity than 90%. This will remove any latent oils and microscopic organisms. Apply with a sterile, clean cotton ball. Wipe the heatsink base and heatspreader, if applicable, with a lint-free cloth, such as an eyeglass cloth or coffee filter. This ensures minimal stuff between the heatsink and CPU.

Swing open the lock on your motherboard's socket and place the processor in. It only goes one way, note the pin designation on both the cpu and board. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES APPLY ANY FORCE, ALL MODERN MOTHERBOARDS HAVE A ZIF SOCKET (ZERO INSERTION FORCE!. Lock the processor down afterwards. It shouldn't be overly difficult to do so.

Apply a small amount of thermal compound to the heatspreader or a grain of rice-sized amount to your exposed die. Not too much! Too much prevents the heat from transferring and too little will make that thing fry quicker than you can say "Chicken's done!" Place the heatsink onto the processor. Very lightly, rotate it left and right to eliminate air bubbles. (Just apply a little force -- do not damage the motherboard or processor. Never push straight down on the heatsink as you may damage the processor or fan! Bolt the heatsink into position or clip it in.

Plug in your CPU fan into the designated fan connector, usually next to the socket.

Turn on the computer and ensure the fan turns on and spins at a nominal speed. If not, turn off IMMEDIATELY.

Enjoy, you're done!

AMD 64 3000 @ 2.0GHz || Running Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
Apple iBook G4 1.42GHz (PPC Core) || Running Apple OSX Tiger
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