When Phenom launched it was slow, later plagued by a performance-hindering TLB bug and priced entirely out of the realm of rational thought. It's a new year and while I'd like to say that AMD has learned from all of its mistakes and will be back to a fully competitive state, that's only mostly true. There are still significant struggles within the company but at least this launch is a step in the right direction.

Today's launch is actually much bigger than Phenom's original debut, encompassing a total of seven new processors:


  Cores Stepping Clock Speed TDP L2 Cache L3 Cache 1 Ku Price
AMD Phenom X4 9850 4 B3 2.5GHz 125W 2MB 2MB $235
AMD Phenom X4 9750 4 B3 2.4GHz 125W 2MB 2MB $215
AMD Phenom X4 9750* 4 B3 2.4GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $???
AMD Phenom X4 9650* 4 B3 2.3GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $???
AMD Phenom X4 9550 4 B3 2.2GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $195
AMD Phenom X4 9100e* 4 B2 1.8GHz 65W 2MB 2MB ~$200
AMD Phenom X3 8600* 3 B2 2.3GHz 95W 1.5MB 2MB ~$175
AMD Phenom X3 8400* 3 B2 2.1GHz 95W 1.5MB 2MB ~$150
*Denotes OEM Only

Ok, let's see if we can make sense of this. There are three new CPUs that you'll see at places like Newegg: the Phenom X4 9850, Phenom X4 9750 and Phenom X4 9550 running at 2.5GHz, 2.4GHz and 2.2GHz respectively. The 50 at the end of the model number means that these CPUs are based on the new B3 stepping, which includes the fix for the TLB erratum - in other words, these are the CPUs you want. The prices are also pretty reasonable, they are all finally cheaper than Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600.

The Phenom X4 9850 is a "Black Edition" part, meaning it ships with its clock multiplier unlocked. It is also the first Phenom to run its L3 cache/North Bridge/memory controller at 2.0GHz and not 1.8GHz like the rest of the Phenom lineup.

Here's where it gets complicated. AMD needed something to do with all of its B2 stepping Phenoms, so it's selling those to OEMs who don't really seem to care about the TLB bug. The CPUs with a * next to them are OEM only; although that doesn't mean that they won't appear in retail, they aren't intended for end user purchase.

The Phenom X4 9100e is AMD's first 65W TDP quad core CPU thanks to a relatively low operating frequency of 1.8GHz. Unfortunately it's plagued by the TLB bug since it's a B2 stepping core, so you have to take into account that its performance may suffer because of it. The same applies to the two new triple-core parts; the Phenom X3 8600 and 8400 are both quad core B2 stepping CPUs with one of the cores disabled. AMD doesn't have any plans to introduce a new, smaller triple-core die because the costs would be too great. Instead AMD wants to focus on getting its 45nm transition started before the end of the year.

AMD's plan is quite ingenious, keep the TLB bug CPUs out of the hands of the enthusiasts who will complain and use them to keep OEMs happy as well as use them for the first triple-core CPUs.

The OEMs don't completely get the shaft as there are two 50-series CPUs they get that we don't. First off there's a 95W TDP Phenom X4 9750 (most likely a lower yielding 9750 that just runs a bit cooler, hence the lower TDP) and next there's a Phenom X4 9650.

Within the next month or so, AMD will be releasing B3 versions of all of the remaining CPUs, so you'll see a Phenom X4 9150e, Phenom X3 8650 and Phenom X3 8400. In general, AMD told us to expect around a $50 price difference at the same clock speed between triple and quad core. Given that most applications still don't benefit tremendously from four cores, tri-core may be a nice way for AMD to compete with Intel's higher performing dual core options. As soon as there are B3 Phenom X3s available for review, we'll let you know how they stack up.

3.0GHz: Where Are You?
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  • The Jedi - Monday, April 07, 2008 - link

    I'm pretty much with you, but just to comment on this part:

    "As for price the q6600 is dropping all over the place... Frys had it for 180 yesterday, Microcenter has it for 200."

    It's a common misnomer to see a sale price on something and then get it locked into your head that that price you saw one time is the price you should expect to pay for something from then on. For example if the company that rhymes with hell is advertising a PC with monitor for $299, even if it's THREE DAYS ONLY in the fine print, or like after rebate, people tend to get it stuck in their head that "a new computer" can be had for a mere $300, when a wiser person would know something that cheap would be like 3-year old tech/speed, likely with dead pixels and a 6-bit analog LCD panel, Windows Basic, stuff like that.

    Companies sometimes have a sale on one thing hoping you'll buy items with it, which allows them to make money. Just wanted to throw that out there.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    How old are you? What's with all this "ownage" crap you are spewing? Do you really tie in your self worth to the cpu you use (feel free to substitute car, house, salary)? Most of us mature individuals who have actually reached adulthood just want the best performance for our dollar, not ownage just to inflate our e-penis.

    Nice article.
    Reply
  • RamarC - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    it's "funny" that anand forgot that the e6750 is $180 (not $266) and that the 3ghz oem e8400 (sans cooler) is in-stock and available for $200. the e8400 would certainly push a couple of phenoms lower on the chart.

    and it's also "funny" that anand's comparing projected phenom prices (since they aren't available yet) with real street prices. wait until you can get street prices before claiming a better price/performance ration.
    Reply
  • Margalus - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    apparently you didn't read the article. The amd chip is not as good as intel currently, but they aren't crap.

    And if you read the article you would have seen that they still recommended and intel cpu for a new system, so it definately wasn't written with payola in mind from amd.
    Reply
  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    We read it, cmon you didnt see any slant towards AMD? Come on, be honest :)

    And it sounded like they were about to cry when they recommended Intel (plus the long in the tooth comments geez, I mean really, Intels old crap sucks and should die but AMDs latest and greatest ALMOST beats Intels crap wow what logic, LOL). Hey I wish AMD were top dog again. I loved the Athlon XP's & 64's. But facts are facts....
    Reply
  • hooflung - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Well look at it this way. Enthusiasts do not drive the market. System builders and servers do. AMD is able to bring competitive prices to the OEM channels and that will also translate to the server markets for the Phenom Opteron lineup.

    AMD is still largely competitive with Intel at the server level with the Phenom where TLB, the now strong point of the Phenom, is implemented better.

    To keep your servers sponsored with a healthy company, IT departments will purchase desktop parts when refreshing hardware. It would be nice for AMD to be able to boast the crown but their company is still profitable, ie in business, by offering parts that sell well.

    Also, its not wise to accuse Anand to being bribed. He's been saying this for a long time and he's enthusiastic that AMD is finally making good on their goals. Fanboi squat somewhere else.
    Reply
  • michal1980 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    How is this NOT a fluff piece? A 'new' cpu (Thats only new because the first time around it had a bug) thats 4+ months late to the party.

    Is being beaten by processor that was launch over a YEAR ago.

    In gaming the new processor has even been beaten by a X2 6400+!!!.

    Thats CRAP. How old is that cpu?

    and yet we get conclusions that this is more like the "Amd we're used to seing.. a competitive AMD"? Competitive excatly how? I'll grant you this will push intel to release there 45nm cpu's... But its not like intel is sweeting.

    Futhermore, How can you come out and say the Q6600 is long in the tooth, when its better then the new stuff amd has on the market?
    Long in the tooth because 12+ months after being released its faster then a brand new amd chip? long in the tooth because its easy to find one for 250, and on sale for less? Or just long in the tooth because It just beats the AMD right now, and doesn't whoop them by 20%+?

    I'm standing by my claim this article is fluff/ BS . its written in a postive spin for amd.. When the AMD processor has clearly been beaten again/still.
    Reply
  • Goty - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I love how fanboys like to conveniently "forget" about the few years that AMD was dominating Intel in pretty much every benchmark when it was the Pentium 4 against the Athlon64. Reply
  • VashHT - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I don't get what you're saying, are you implying that phenom is competitive because A64 dominated the P4? Funny how you can call someone a fanboy when you're bringing up 2 processors that don't matter in the current market. Reply
  • Goty - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    You kind of have to read the previous post wherein the author implies that AMD has never been competitive, which it has been numerous times. My example was merely the latest and had no bearing on the current generation of products. Reply

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