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AMD Athlon II X2 / Phenom II X2 And Low-Power CPU Bonanza

AMD Athlon II X2 / Phenom II X2 And Low-Power CPU Bonanza
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When it rains, it pours, right? Computex is now in full swing, and every company with something substantial to announce is going to do it in Taipei, in front of as many people as possible. AMD just so happens to have a lot to talk about this year.

The company is launching four different desktop processors (in addition to its server news). They’re all fairly well focused on areas where AMD has excelled lately: value-based performance and low-power.

Two CPUs are 65 W versions of hardware AMD is already shipping. The Phenom II X3 705e and Phenom II X4 905e both run at 2.5 GHz and offer substantial power savings versus the other 95 W X3s and 125 W X4s currently available. We dropped these into our Maui-based HTPC for a little high-performance home theater action.

The third new CPU is an inevitable adaptation of AMD’s quad-core Deneb design, which has already lost one execution core to become Heka, and now loses a second core to become Callisto. Fittingly, the resulting product is referred to as Phenom II X2.

Fourth on the menu is a new architecture that begins its life as a native dual-core processor. Dubbed Athlon II X2 (internally named Regor), this one boasts a larger L2 (1 MB per core), but gives up the L3 entirely. We’ll look at how this affects performance in our benchmarks, of course. 

Athlon II X2: Die-shotAthlon II X2: Die-shot

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

As if AMD’s portfolio weren’t already looking like a shotgun blast of Athlons, Phenoms, Xs, Roman numerals, and model numbers, we’ve seen roadmaps that indicate AMD will launch two more core designs next month: Rana and Propus. Rana will become the Athlon II X3 400-series (triple-core, 1.5 MB total L2 cache, up to 2.9 GHz), while Propus is expected to emerge as the Athlon II X4 600-series (quad-core 2 MB total L2 cache, up to 2.8 GHz).

That’s next month, though. Today our focus is on AMD’s four latest processors and how they compare to Intel’s latest value chip, the Pentium E6300—the only Pentium dual-core to run on a 1,066 MT/s front side bus—and its Core 2 Quad Q8400. At $175, the Q8400 is priced in between the two low-power Phenom IIs, though it uses quite a bit more power. Consider the performance numbers comparable to Intel's $245 Core 2 Quad Q8400S, though.

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  • 28 Hide
    thedipper , June 2, 2009 1:45 AM
    IronRyan21Maybe if AMD would actually bring out some kind of nehalem competitor instead of flooding the cheapo market with variations of the same chips all over the place. There was Athlon 64 X2, brisbane and windsor, then there was Kuma, which was a phenom with 2 cores disabled. Now we got these new chips which are phenom 2s with 2 cores disabled. Lets put the money into some R&D and get somewhere. It seems like AMDs lost traction. sad.


    The low to mid-price segments are the best selling hardware categories.

    Believe it or not, the $100 bang-for-the-buck graphics cards by far outsell the $500 space heater graphics cards. As with graphics cards, $50-100 CPUs by far outsell the $300-1300 CPUs.

    The market that seems like most of the market - the enthusiasts and gamers - is actually not that much of the market share. Businesses building for performance-per-dollar, low-mid performance factory built home PCs, and people building web or media machines... these together outweigh the enthusiast/gamer market.
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , June 2, 2009 1:58 AM
    @IronRyan: Why not start your own semiconductor company and show AMD how it's done? Can a similar argument not be applied to Intel's "double cheeseburger" quads, and "single patty" dual-cores? If we even get any non-quad i7/i5s, do you know if Intel won't just do the same thing? In the future, instead of coming up with some lame argument, just post this for each article:

    "Hi, my name's IronRyan, and I like Intel. Go team Intel, yay!!!!!"
Other Comments
  • 28 Hide
    thedipper , June 2, 2009 1:45 AM
    IronRyan21Maybe if AMD would actually bring out some kind of nehalem competitor instead of flooding the cheapo market with variations of the same chips all over the place. There was Athlon 64 X2, brisbane and windsor, then there was Kuma, which was a phenom with 2 cores disabled. Now we got these new chips which are phenom 2s with 2 cores disabled. Lets put the money into some R&D and get somewhere. It seems like AMDs lost traction. sad.


    The low to mid-price segments are the best selling hardware categories.

    Believe it or not, the $100 bang-for-the-buck graphics cards by far outsell the $500 space heater graphics cards. As with graphics cards, $50-100 CPUs by far outsell the $300-1300 CPUs.

    The market that seems like most of the market - the enthusiasts and gamers - is actually not that much of the market share. Businesses building for performance-per-dollar, low-mid performance factory built home PCs, and people building web or media machines... these together outweigh the enthusiast/gamer market.
  • 9 Hide
    jj463rd , June 2, 2009 1:48 AM
    Those Phenom II 905e's and 705e's would be kickass if paired with the upcoming 785g motherboards.
    AMD has some new interesting CPU's.
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , June 2, 2009 1:58 AM
    @IronRyan: Why not start your own semiconductor company and show AMD how it's done? Can a similar argument not be applied to Intel's "double cheeseburger" quads, and "single patty" dual-cores? If we even get any non-quad i7/i5s, do you know if Intel won't just do the same thing? In the future, instead of coming up with some lame argument, just post this for each article:

    "Hi, my name's IronRyan, and I like Intel. Go team Intel, yay!!!!!"
  • 9 Hide
    deputc26 , June 2, 2009 2:09 AM
    Anyone else see the Athlon X2 and think that if they underclocked and undervolted it they'd finally have a legitimate mobile contender?
    If they can run 4 cores at 2.5ghz and 8mb cache on 65w they should be able to run 2 cores at 2.5 ghz and 2mb cache at less than 32.5w.
  • 2 Hide
    rdawise , June 2, 2009 2:33 AM
    Interesting article...I'm glad you put this against the E6300. I haven't seen much about this chip. It as if Intel just snuck on onto the market. I wonder how high of an overclock you can get with it....

    Onto the article, it seems as if the Phenom II x2 550 BE would a great chip in a value gaming rig. If you could unclock the extra cores and get it stable, you'd be one lucky man. Can't wait till see these on the Egg...
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , June 2, 2009 2:38 AM
    Quickest Pentium, only one with a 1066 MHz bus, disappointing that it's missing some functionality, though.

    Anyone else reminded of GeForce 2 MX when they see how Intel is positioning its mainstream chips these days? I'm all for differentiating with performance to drive down price (even cutting performance-oriented features, like Hyper-Threading), but don't start shedding the actual capabilities of an architecture to handicap it.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 2, 2009 3:14 AM
    I would find the Phenom X2 550 interesting because many of the programs I still run today are singlethreaded.
    These programs benefit more from a higher clockrate than more cores.

    Keeping this in mind, and the fact that an OS doesn't (spectacularly) boot faster with more cores, I think the X2 is a great buy.
    I'm a bit dissapointed at the powerdraw. For a HDTV box you don't necessarily need to buy a Radeon 4850. Perhaps a lower powerdraw (and price) in the 4770 or 4670 will be better.
    To playback full HD (1080p) I suppose a Radeon HD 2900XT would be enough.
    Add office tasks, internetting, some photoshop, and casual gaming on a 22"monitor (1680x1050 pix), and a Radeon 4670 would be enough in most cases.
    If you have a 24" monitor (1920x1200 pix) a Radeon 4770 would do.
    Only when latest gaming is concerned should you go for a Radeon 4870 or a 4890.
  • -2 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , June 2, 2009 3:16 AM
    Cant...wait...for...AthlonII.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , June 2, 2009 3:24 AM
    Pro, for an HTPC, you'd be fine with a 4670, more than likely. The challenge will be building a system able to keep that setup cool enough. The Maui box with the 905e was *near-silent* but a discrete card would have wrecked this, and a 4670 is almost too much card to be passively-cooled (a la Ultimate-style) without better airflow in the case.
  • 0 Hide
    billybobs , June 2, 2009 3:27 AM
    IronRyansSister@IronRyan: Why not start your own semiconductor company and show AMD how it's done? Can a similar argument not be applied to Intel's "double cheeseburger" quads, and "single patty" dual-cores? If we even get any non-quad i7/i5s, do you know if Intel won't just do the same thing? In the future, instead of coming up with some lame argument, just post this for each article:"Hi, my name's IronRyan, and I like Intel. Go team Intel, yay!!!!!"


    Is this guy serious? He counters another reader's argument by taunting him? Seriously.
  • -3 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , June 2, 2009 3:35 AM
    Huh, I had assumed that the new Athlon line was just going to be Phenom IIs with cache/cores disabled. I guess this dedicated design is just a more efficient way to sell silicon than disabling good chips?
  • 1 Hide
    rooseveltdon , June 2, 2009 3:36 AM
    billybobsIs this guy serious? He counters another reader's argument by taunting him? Seriously.

    the othe reader did not have much of an argument to begin with so he deserved the taunting
  • 0 Hide
    hunter315 , June 2, 2009 3:53 AM
    A performance per watt graph would have been nice especially as this was an article comparing lower powered processors as most of us dont run ours at full load for extended periods of time.
  • 0 Hide
    buzznut , June 2, 2009 3:56 AM
    Wow! I am waintin til the price comes down on the 905e, then I'm gettin one. For htpc build, It looks mighty tempting.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 2, 2009 3:59 AM
    All this like many other toms articles show me there is not much difference between closely released proximity hardware!
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , June 2, 2009 4:07 AM
    WoooooooooooooAll this like many other toms articles show me there is not much difference between closely released proximity hardware!


    When a release is incremental and evolutionary in nature, that's a pretty safe bet. There's no use in us embellishing the differences for theatrical effect now, is there?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 2, 2009 5:12 AM
    @BillyBob: IronRyan posts an equally pointless pro-Intel fanboy comment everytime any article is posted, I couldn't take the waste of LCD screen space any longer, somebody had to say something.
  • 1 Hide
    MAD4AMD , June 2, 2009 5:47 AM
    Hit me with something Intel! And hit me with good/cheep or you may lose mainstream very quickly...
  • 7 Hide
    ohim , June 2, 2009 6:41 AM
    Is is me or iTunes shouldn`t be used as a benchmark since it`s beeing developed by apple wich uses only Intel CPU`s, and lame audio encoding ... i mean look at the other 2 multimedia programs used and look at those 2.
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