How does AMD respond to Lynnfield? Is it by drastically cutting prices on Phenom II? Nope. By introducing the world’s first quad-core processor to debut at $99. Now that’s cool.

It’s called the Athlon II X4 and its existence shouldn’t be any surprise. AMD quietly announced it along with the Athlon II X2 line.

Today we get two models: the Athlon II X4 630 and the Athlon II X4 620, priced at $122 and $99 respectively. The only difference between the two is clock speed; the 630 runs at 2.8GHz while the 620 runs at 2.6GHz. These are both AM3 chips meaning they'll work in AM3 motherboards with DDR3 memory or AM2+ boards with DDR2 memory.

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 3.4GHz 2MB 6MB 140W $245
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $245
AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $225
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE 2.8GHz 1.5MB 6MB 95W $145
AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE 3.1GHz 1MB 6MB 80W $105
AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $122
AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $99
AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $87

This isn’t a harvested Phenom II nor is it a pair of Athlon II X2s, instead it looks like we have a brand new die on our hands (some Athlon II X4s will be crippled Phenom IIs but AMD insists that the new die will be used). The Athlon II X4 has four cores on a single die, but unlike the Athlon II X2 each core only has a 512KB L2 per core. You can tell by the die shot that the core-to-cache ratio is much higher than on the X2:


The 45nm Athlon II X4 Propus die


The 45nm Athlon II X2 die (note the larger L2 per core)

Like the rest of the Athlon II lineup there is no L3 cache. This helps keep the die small (and affordable) but also hurts performance:

Processor SYSMark 2007 Overall E-Learning Video Creation Productivity 3D
AMD Phenom II X4 920 (2.8GHz) 173 151 212 167 167
AMD Athlon II X4 630 (2.8GHz) 157 128 221 131 162
% of Phenom II X4 91% 85% 104% 78% 97%

 

At the same clock speed the Athlon II X4 should offer roughly 90% of the performance of a Phenom II X4.

Processor Cores Manufacturing Process L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache Die Size Transistor Count
AMD Phenom II X4 4 45nm 128KB per core 512KB per core 6MB 258 mm2 758M
AMD Athlon II X4 4 45nm 128KB per core 512KB per core 0MB 169 mm2 300M
AMD Athlon II X2 2 45nm 128KB per core 1MB per core 0MB 117 mm2 234M
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8xxx 4 45nm 64KB per core 4MB 0MB 164 mm2 456M

 

The price is unbeatable. If we ignore the 630 for a moment, the Athlon II X4 620 is by far the cheapest route to four cores on the market. Intel’s most affordable quad-core is the Core 2 Quad Q8200 at $163, while AMD would previously charge you $163 for a Phenom X4 9600B. This is where the AM3/AM2+ compatibility play really helps out. Motherboard/memory costs are as cheap as possible thanks to AMD's incredible socket flexibility.

And just in case you’re wondering, yes, the Athlon II X4 620 actually delivers performance competitive with the Q8200 but for 60% of the cost. It’s not all that clear cut, there are some cases where the 620 is faster but others where the Q8200 is much faster. On average it ends up being a wash but you’ll want to pay attention to the coming pages to see how the cookie crumbles as it does vary from test to test.


Codename Propus

Overclocking isn't unfortunately as good as the Phenom IIs; the result of a conscious design decision or simply the early nature of the Propus die. That being said, without a single extra millivolt I was able to hit 3.25GHz on my Athlon II X4 620 sample - making it even more valuable. Extra voltage proved mostly useless, I could only approach 3.4GHz with an extra 300mV.

Let’s see, have I thoroughly ruined the surprise? Check. Now let’s get to the tests.

The Test

Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset: Intel X48
Intel X58
AMD 790FX
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Patriot Viper DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
SYSMark 2007 Performance
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  • Chlorus - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    He posted right after me...I'm kinda wondering if we should setup a drinking game or something each time he posts. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Good idea, and everyone drinks when you spot a new alias. Reply
  • deputc26 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    I would absolutely love to see a die size comparison. That will give real information on how this chip can make AMD $$. Reply
  • Lokinhow - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    there is a die size comparsion on the first page..

    P2 X4 = 258 mm2
    A2 X4 = 169 mm2
    A2 X2 = 117 mm2
    C2Q 8xxx = 164 mm2
    Reply
  • deputc26 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Apparently I'm a moron. Don't know how I missed that unless it was added after initial publication as I read it right after it came out. Reply
  • Eeqmcsq - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Anand, how did you know whether or not your Athlon II X4s are harvested Denebs?

    Also, any idea why the Athon II X4s debut at such a high TDP with no L3? I'd think they'd be lower at 65w or at least 80w.

    AMD, $100 quad cores is nice... BUT... where's the 45w quads???
    Reply
  • Lokinhow - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    I may be wrong, but..

    I think the high TDP is because we have both Propus and Deneb-Harvested Cores

    The Athlon II based on Deneb probably have this 95W TDP, while the ones based on propus core have lower TDP.

    I think they have only a few propus core to sell, so that's why they are selling harvesteds Denebs. When there wil have only Athlons II X4 propous based they'll rate it with a lower TDP.

    Makes sense?
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Yes and no

    It's a bit strange that the deneb die (630) consumes less power than the propus die (620) in idle if that theory was valid. During load the difference is just as much as the difference in clock speed would indicate. So if the 630 is indeed a deneb (care to rip the IHS of? ;)) then this means that propus is not by definition less power hungry than deneb.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    AMD specifically told us that our 620s are Propus samples, but that others may be Denebs. I'm not sure how to tell if you have a harvested Deneb just yet.

    Give AMD some time, I'm sure we'll see them down below 95W as the process matures for these dice.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Anand,

    A couple of things. You mentioned the 'small' L2 cache being a problem on one of your benchmarks, but, it's actually twice as large as the one on the Phenom. I'm not sure if this was meant to be a comparison only with the Penryns, but it's a bit confusing.

    Also, going back to the L2 cache, how can these possibly be harvested from Phenoms with a bad L3 cache. That would imply the Phenoms are built with 512K L2 cache, with half of it disabled. I really doubt this is the case. You CAN remove the L3, but how do they then double the L2 cache? This seems strange to me.

    Based on the relatively poor overclocking potential of this chip, would you attribute that to the L2 cache? Does the L2 cache run with the same number of wait states as that of the Phenom? If so, that could prove to be the main reason for the lower overclocking potential. Any ideas on this?

    Also, don't you think it's worth mentioning AMD's greatly superior IGPs, considering this product could easily find it's way in this platform rather often. The processor by itself does make sense, but, even if it didn't, the superior IGP platform still can make AMD processors somewhat attractive.
    Reply

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