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AMD Phenom vs. Athlon Core Shootout

AMD Phenom vs. Athlon Core Shootout
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AMD removed the core count suffix X2, X3 and X4 from the logo and changed its nomenclature instead: 9000 models have four cores, while the upcoming triple cores have a 7000 model number.

AMD has had a difficult year. Not only did the long anticipated Phenom processor arrive at considerably lower clock speeds than expected (2.3 GHz instead of 3 GHz), but the current stepping of the so-called Barcelona core is afflicted with a nasty bug. While there are workarounds for it, only an updated stepping will allow AMD to resume quad core processor deliveries in the server segment. The fact that the quad core doesn't deliver sufficient performance to attack Intel at the high-end doesn't help either. As a consequence of these problems, AMD has had to readjust its product strategy, and position the processor together with the new Spider platform in the mainstream. Despite all of the issues, though, Phenom isn't as bad as it may appear, as our comparison between the Phenom and the Athlon 64 X2 shows. Compare Prices on AMD Phenom Processors

In fact, AMD has a pretty significant advantage over Intel when it comes to upgrading existing systems with a quad core processor. While Intel has been quick with launching new platforms for each and every new processor generation due to modified requirements, AMD has not changed the specifications for Socket AM2 at all. As a consequence, it is technically possible to deploy a quad core Phenom processor into a Socket AM2 motherboard that has been running an Athlon 64 or Athlon 64 X2 - all you need is a BIOS update. This doesn't work in every case - some motherboards may not be able to handle the Phenoms' power requirements of 95 or 125 W - but most enthusiast motherboards can be upgraded from a single or dual core to a quad core processor easily.

The upgrade situation definitely requires some attention, as both AMD and Intel are roughly half a year away from the next significant technology update. AMD will introduce Socket AM3, which will bring with it DDR3 memory, while Intel's next-generation Nehalem will finally integrate the memory controller with the processor. Knowing this, even the upcoming Core 2 Duo E8000 or Core 2 Quad Q9000 series have to be seen as interim products on the way to the next generation, despite the certainty that these will outperform the existing Core 2 products by roughly 10%.

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  • 0 Hide
    spearhead , June 19, 2008 1:18 AM
    its architecture it fine but
    it is clock speed the phenom lacks. if amd can just bump its speed up to around 3ghz-3.6ghz then it would make good competition towards faster intels. i can conclude from this benchmark that if you buy an phenom 9850 and clock it around 3ghz you have much more horse power then you would have with an athlon x2 6000+ however some benchmarks might tell you something else it makes sence if you use 1066mhz memory or just 800mhz mem
  • 0 Hide
    tagasur , June 27, 2008 12:08 PM
    i wish tom's would update this topic with new benchmarks on the amd phenom 9850be. i'd like to know if it's more stable now that the "nasty bug" has been remedied with the march 2008 product line refresh.
  • 0 Hide
    brian1143 , March 11, 2009 11:28 PM
    Well this review says its not much more performance. I'm upgrading from 939 and actually thinking of getting the $60 AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 (AM2+) and OC it to at least 3ghz and run 1066 memory. I'd rather save the money for the future rather than have a few extra FPS.

    Intel's core i7 really is clearly the better processor with more headroom, but AMD has always had them in the price to performance ratio department. AMD isn't going away and perhaps they can make a better processor like when Athlon 64 came out or at least close the gap and let their price to performance ratio carry them the rest of the way. (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/overclock-phenom-ii,2119.html)

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    mypobox , September 27, 2010 3:07 PM
    Is an athlon II x3 really better then a phenom I x4 for 73$ at newegg ??