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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  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Amen brother, I had the Athlon 64 when it ruled, but now i have E8400 since it smokes AMD's best...

    So I guess I am an AMD/Intel Fan BOY!!!

    No offense but this artlicle had a very strong slant towards AMD, even though Intel destroys their newest and best with a 1+ year old chip. Dont you find that the least bit odd....? If anyone is sounding like a "Fanboy" I would say it would have to be you Mr. Crusader for AMD. LOL

    Dude when you get to where I am you will see, it doesnt matter what the fluff is, get the FACTS and decide with your dollars there... Sheesh...
    Reply
  • AssBall - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I thought it was a very well written article. I didn't get any OMGAMDFTW out of it like you apparently did. Your "Man" would not be up already if AMD wasn't still churning these new procs out. Good luck finding those special Intel prices then. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    > We get the impression that there are some speed paths that could be optimized on the current B2 and B3 Phenoms that simply aren't because of a very sensible thought process.

    I'm wondering why those speed paths haven't been fixed before the first launch. Certainly it wasn't good for AMD to only introduce them at low clock frequencies.
    Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    It's really disheartening for a "fanboy" like me to see AMD beaten all over the board again.
    I may very well build a system or two with AMD parts because of the 780G chipset and its great budget video performance, but for a full-blown performance system i'll certainly go with Intel now.

    AMD better hurry up with their 45nm tech, its way overdue.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    "AMD better hurry up with their 45nm tech, its way overdue."

    You're right, Intel has been selling 45nm parts for like a year now... oh wait, no they havent.

    If you meant overdue as in they need it to (hopefully) achieve higher clock speeds and lower power consumption in addition to lower production cost, then you got that right.

    If they keep their schedule with 45nm, they will have narrowed the gap between process shrinks vs. intel a bit again - which is good. But things like that dont happen overnight.
    Reply
  • MoonRocket - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Can anyone identify the case on the 3ghz where are you page?

    Looks interesting.
    Reply
  • AmberClad - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    It looks like the CoolerMaster Stacker 830 to me. Reply
  • dnz - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    We musn't forget how great an overclocker the Q6600 is. My system is running at 3.2GHz (8x400) and I'm using cheap DDR2-800 RAM. The Q9300 may have some advantages but overclocking it is going to require some VERY expensive RAM. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    First you'll need an good mobo that can deliver high FSB for these 45nm quads. RAM is secondary (can always use a divider if needed). Reply
  • ui5200 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link


    Maybe this will cause intel to finally release the latest Dual and Quad core chips (oh like the E8400 that's been 'out of stock' for months)? Or is this another paper launch ?
    Reply

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