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The New AMD CPUs: Speed Bumps For Free

Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans
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AMD is launching five new processors today: three Athlon IIs and two Phenom IIs. So, let's go over the significance of each model.

Athlon II X2 255


Athlon II X2 255Athlon II X2 250
Codename: RegorRegor
Process: 45nm 45nm
CPU Cores: 2 2
Clock Speed: 3.1 GHz
3.0 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 64KB
2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 1MB
2 x 1MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
65W
65W

The first model we'll look at is the Athlon II X2 255. Essentially a 100 MHz speed bump over the older Athlon II X2 250, its $75 MSRP brings it right on top of the triple-core Athlon II X3 425. As such, we'd probably opt for the slower triple-core X3 for the sake of scalability in threaded software. But the 255's 3.1 GHz clock speed is interesting for a budget offering.

Athlon II X3 440


Athlon II X3 440
Athlon II X3 435
Codename: RanaRana
Process: 45nm 45nm
CPU Cores: 3
3
Clock Speed: 3.0 GHz
2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
95W
95W

The Athlon II X3 440 is much more promising. It offers a 100 MHz speed advantage over its older 435 predecessor, yet the cost to the consumer is almost identical. This is the first triple-core Athlon II to come clocked at 3.0 GHz, and at $84, it promises a solid price/performance value.

Athlon II X4 635


Athlon II X4 635
Athlon II X4 630
Codename: PropusPropus
Process: 45nm 45nm
CPU Cores: 4
4
Clock Speed: 2.9 GHz
2.8 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   4 x 64KB
4 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   4 x 512KB
4 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
95W
95W

The new Athlon II X4 635 brings budget quad-core performance within kissing distance of 3.0 GHz, and ups the price ante slightly to $119. At 2.9 GHz, it's 100 MHz faster than the older Athlon II X4 630 model. Can you see the trend?

Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition


Phenom II X2 555Phenom II X2 550
Codename: CallistoCallisto
Process: 45nm 45nm
CPU Cores: 2 2
Clock Speed: 3.2 GHz
3.1 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 128KB
2 x 128 KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 512KB
2 x 512KB
L3 Cache: 6MB
6MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
80W
80W

Now for the Phenom II models, and guess what: the Phenom II X2 555 sports a 100 MHz speed bump over the 550 (surprised?). And while the extra multiplier is less impressive on a multiplier-unlocked Black Edition processor, let's face it; any Phenom II X2 550 could run at 3.2 GHz with the most basic tweaking. The new processor stepping that the 555 employs gives us some hope that we'll have more overclocking headroom. Best of all, this CPU comes in at $99, the exact same price as its older, slightly slower predecessor.

Phenom II X4 910e


Phenom II X4 910e
Phenom II X4 910
Codename: DenebDeneb
Process: 45nm 45nm
CPU Cores: 4
4
Clock Speed: 2.6 GHz
2.6 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 4 x 128KB
4 x 128KB
L2 Cache: 4 x 512KB
4 x 512KB
L3 Cache: 6MB
6MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MHz
4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:
65W
95W

Finally, we have the Phenom II X4 910e. You can look at this in one of two ways: it's a 100 MHz speed bump over the 905e, or it's an energy-efficient Phenom II X4 910. Either way, it's available at $169 as AMD's low-power, higher-performance tradeoff CPU.

Real World Advantages

So, what exactly is AMD putting on the table, and to whom will it make a difference?

Let's start with the speed bump. It's a nice gesture, but honestly, nobody at their computer desk is going to notice a 100 MHz increase in the real-world. Having said that, in many cases, AMD is giving it away at no extra cost. And it will help the company's price/performance ratio look better when it comes time to run the benchmarks.

There is one segment of the population we expect to disproportionately appreciate the higher speed, however: overclockers. A 100 MHz speed bump on a locked CPU means a higher multiplier, and higher multipliers mean that it's easier to reach higher processor speeds using lower reference clock rates. In addition, the Phenom II X2 555 is being manufactured on the new C3 stepping, and that also bodes well for those who push their processors to the limit.

In the final analysis, AMD's lineup is most definitely stronger as a result of today's updates/refreshes. We're not going to compare the new models to their slower predecessors, but we do think the whole sub-$200 CPU segment is deserving of a value analysis, and that includes both AMD and Intel CPUs. We have one coming up in the next few weeks.

For now though, we're going to focus on a single product in the new lineup: the Phenom II X2 555. We'll be comparing it to its new nemesis: the Intel Pentium G6950.

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