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The World's First 65 W Desktop Quad Core

The World's First 65 W Desktop Quad Core

As far as performance is concerned, AMD is lagging behind its competitor Intel. But few users other than gamers still care solely about performance. In this age of burgeoning energy prices, AMD has an ace up its sleeve: the world’s first quad core CPU that consumes as little as 65 W (TDP). In comparison, Intel’s smallest quad core absorbs 95 W (TDP), despite the fact that Intel is already using 45 nm technology and AMD is still at 65 nm.

In terms of power consumption, AMD’s platform as a whole — motherboard, CPU and graphics chip — is not bad either. Its performance is perfectly adequate for office work and entertainment, though not for games. The integrated graphics engine in the 780G chipset is capable of rendering Blu-ray movies in 1920 HD resolution under maximum CPU load without jitter via HDMI. With Intel, this is only possible with a separate graphics card, as a comparable platform is not yet available.

AMD still has difficulties with high clock frequencies. While Intel’s quad core easily touches the 3 GHz mark, AMD is barely capable of 2.5 GHz. The Phenom X4 9100e presented in this article operates at 1.8 GHz.

Compared to classic Athlon 64 X2 CPUs, the first Phenom models with the B2 stepping featured improved power efficiency, but due to a TLB error — largely irrelevant in practice — the maximum clock rate had to be limited to 2.30 GHz. The B3 stepping eliminated the error, allowing the clock rate to be pushed up to 2.50 GHz. As even the B3 update failed to provide a major boost to the clock rate of the Phenom core, AMD was forced to increase the core voltage. Thus, the Phenom X4 with the B3 stepping is characterized by an extremely high power consumption (TDP) of 125 W.

phenom x4 9100e

Nevertheless, Tom’s hardware test of Phenom X3 CPUs provides evidence that AMD is capable of reducing the Phenom’s power consumption by optimizing the production process. Using a core based on the B3 stepping, the voltage and current requirements are much lower compared to the quad-core models at the same clock rate.

The following sections will shed light on how AMD was able to set the bar at 65 W.

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  • -4 Hide
    xx12amanxx , May 21, 2008 6:01 AM
  • 5 Hide
    custommadename , May 21, 2008 7:21 AM
    People can still play games with this quad core. Sure, it's not as fast as a quad core from Intel, but it's evidently more than suitable to handle today's games. However, for about $200 it's a horrible value.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 21, 2008 7:26 AM
    Just a quick question... at 1.8GHz is this chip even competitive with a higher speed dual core (even when considering 4 core vs 2 and considering multi-core optimized applications)?

    It'd be interesting to add in a Intel mid to high range dual core and look at the power consumption and performance vs the relatively low clocked quad. Dropping the clockspeed so low would seem to give back most of the games from having 2 extra cores (and would be worse for SW that cannot use 4 cores).
  • 1 Hide
    JSP78 , May 21, 2008 7:41 AM
    Im an Q9450 owner and to just drop the multipler on the QX9770 and use the same vid isent fair.
    My Q9450 VID = 1.1v, EIST drops VID to 1.0375v
    C1 stepping, slawr l806a762
    I bet thats gonna make it hard for the phenom to beat
  • 2 Hide
    thuan , May 21, 2008 8:25 AM
    Page 12 title is wrong. It's 9.8% not 8.8%. Just mention it, as it seems no one's noticed it yet.
  • -1 Hide
    royalcrown , May 21, 2008 11:02 AM
    This just goes to show how crappy "Barceloney" really is.

    Consider the fact that one can buy an e8400 or 8500 which uses the same power, can keep up with AMD's quad cores (even when they are over clocked), and also DESTROY this thing at gaming. WHY exactly would I buy this piece of crap again Frank ?!?!

    I guess if I ran Cinebench benchmarks all day and did NOTHING else, then this cpu would look good.

    People that buy quad cores are not going to care about 35 watts, they want to brag about speed OR get their work done ASAP, and AMD is crap for that right now !
  • -1 Hide
    Reynod , May 21, 2008 11:09 AM
    An excellent review Frank ... well done.

    Very impartial ... showing the strength's and weaknesses of the low power unit.

    The overclocking limit of 2.4 would be interesting to explore further.

    Can you elaborate on what settings you went to ... and the HTT frequency please?

  • -2 Hide
    Reynod , May 21, 2008 11:15 AM
    An excellent review Frank ... well done.

    Very impartial ... showing the strength's and weaknesses of the low power unit.

    The overclocking limit of 2.4 would be interesting to explore further.

    Can you elaborate on what settings you went to ... and the HTT frequency please?

  • 0 Hide
    OMA , May 21, 2008 11:55 AM
    Why did you underclock the l3 cache and memory controller? The ht link is ment to be overclocked, not underclocked! L3 runs the same speed as ht link not 2,4 ghz. Slow L3 is a big bottleneck in games.
  • 2 Hide
    skittle , May 21, 2008 12:23 PM
    comparing power consumption of a 1.8ghz phenom with a stock q6600 and touting the phenom as the power consumption king is a very inaccurate conclusion. The articles here just keep getting worse and worse... seriously who hires these clowns?
  • 2 Hide
    sandmanwn , May 21, 2008 12:26 PM
    Its performance is perfectly adequate for office work and entertainment, though not for games.

    I hope that statement was intended for this particular CPU only, or the fanboyism of this site just went up 10 notches to ludicrous stupidity.
  • 1 Hide
    royalcrown , May 21, 2008 12:53 PM
    skittles, even if it is accurate, so what because INTEL could just under clock the q6600 and draw 65 watts to, but the performance would suck also.They're just pushing efficiency because AMD is getting destroyed on the performance front and there is no real news right now on any performance oriented front.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 21, 2008 1:19 PM
    The real point of this (chip and article) is twofold:

    1, If you're really going to run multithreaded apps 24/7 (or not much less) this processor is really perfect. This points to the fact, that K10 was really made for server segment: it is scaling very well in multisocked configurations, and at lower clocks it is very energy-efficient.

    2, The biggest deficiency of the current dekstop Phenoms is that they are way too power-hungry. Maybe the SOI is to blame, as I've read the SOI process has a frequency tipping point after which the dissipation grows tremendously. Anyway, the situation seems curable, as this 9100e can be clocked to perform on par with 9750 yet consuming substantially less. That brings some hope for AMD.
  • -5 Hide
    royalcrown , May 21, 2008 1:33 PM

    Uh what about the fact that they SUCK (x4's) ?! This architecture is AMD's version of Netburst. This design sucks no matter how you try to spin it; here is hoping the next cores from AMD fare better. Where is the advantage in buying this piece of junk ? Maybe if I had a bank of servers, far as any real desktop apps go, I'd be just as well of going core 2 duo as I would on this thing, winning in one benchmark doesn't impress me because I do lots of things with my desktop.
  • 0 Hide
    Mathos , May 21, 2008 2:25 PM
    Eh, 9100e still has at least one ace up it's sleeve. If you use bios 1.2 with that chip, you can lower the VID on the northbridge/IMC and it will cut the Load and Idle power a lot. Depending on what it's stock set at, there should be plenty of room to lower it and still keep it stable. My 9600 BE was doing 2.4ghz on the NB at the stock VID, and could easily do 2ghz on the nb at 1.1v VID, stable. Only problem is, changing the VID I dont know if C&Q will still work. Still the biggest issue with Phenom Power consumption is the IMC, until they make it throttle or lower voltages like the rest of the chip.
  • 0 Hide
    apaige , May 21, 2008 2:39 PM
    Any chance on finally getting your Sandra memory bandwidth benchmarks straight?
  • 0 Hide
    qasdfdsaq , May 21, 2008 2:55 PM
    I don't see the significance of a 65W Phenom running at 1.8Ghz. Intel has already announced their QX9300, a 35W TDP Core 2 Quad running at 2.53Ghz:

    Even if AMD have a slight lead now, they will be totally raped come Q3/08.
  • 0 Hide
    etstech , May 21, 2008 4:03 PM
    According to Intel, they have a Quad-core Xeon with a rated TDP of 50W.
  • 1 Hide
    wild9 , May 21, 2008 4:43 PM
    I think AMD is even more efficient than most tests claim; the memory controller is intergradted into the processor and not the Northbridge part of a motherboard's chipset. Extra traffic and external components running on 65nm (or higher) chipsets is surely to add to the power consumption of all Intel processors especially when dealing data storage facilities or super-computers.
  • 1 Hide
    jckrieger , May 21, 2008 6:27 PM
    I'm not sure about this article. From the benchmarks, it looks like this cpu is slower and consumes more power than a Q6600 which is Intel's old 65nm cpu. Performance per dollar and performance per watt still seems to lean in Intel's favor. The only thing I see worth mentioning in this article is AMD released the world's slowest quad core that still costs as much as a respectable Q6600. As the others pointed out, if you don't need performance, get a reasonably clocked dual core and keep general application performance at a higher level.
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