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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  • The0ne - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Whether you like to believe it or not, crippling or, in a nicer way, not release some of the features is pretty common in both software and hardware environments. Whether the decision was due to money, managerial ignorance, or a time-line it is still a feature that is not in the product that could be there.

    If you consider putting all features, which is impossible btw, then you run into issues where the consumer or market doesn't even need them. We have USBs, wireless, biometric security available in one of our product but 95% of the market could care less. They are still on serial lines and are uneducated on newer technologies. Most city halls are like this that is why you see plain old switching voting systems still in place and the occasional typewriter.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    You mean like the I5? Reply
  • andrenb91 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    it's just a cpu...I'll buy it when I need it, my amd athlon 4850e and intel pentium dual-core e5200 still good enough Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Anyone know where you can get these? If not yet available, then when? I have a friend who needs a new computer, and the AII X4 620 would be a pretty good fit for him. I was somewhat grudgingly recommending the Ph II X2 550, but the X4 620 seems to offer much more balanced performance. Reply
  • pervisanathema - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    These results are meaningless. The intel CPUs should be forced to run 24x7 at their highest possible turbo speed. To do otherwise let's AMD lose by a smaller margin.

    i'm going to stay here saying the same until hell freezes.
    i'm not going to accept under clocked results presented as if they were stock results.
    this is a casus belli.
    i mean it.
    Reply
  • fitten - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    Heh... I see what you did there ;) I'm with you! Reply
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    lol Reply
  • ClownPuncher - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    I see what you did there! Nice job Reply
  • Exar3342 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    For $50 more, you get a much more energy efficient and faster processor. I would only recommend this quad to those with a MB that supports it, they need an upgrade, and they don't have much cash.

    AMD can't be making much money off these processors...
    Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    "For $50 more" means "for 50% more" in this case. It's kind of ridiculous to talk about the difference of $50 in this context as if it's trivial. Those costs are not remotely comparable, so the implication that you might as well just spend $50 more to get the faster/more efficient processor is not justified by your statements.

    I personally always do target $150 for a processor price when building a new system - this is a habit I got into with my very first build, using a Pentium 100 which at the time cost $150. This means that a $200 processor which has better performance is not even in the realm of consideration for me, even though it is "only $50 more", which in this case, is an even smaller percentage increase than in the case you are talking about.

    Just in case I haven't made my point abundantly clear: you can't recommend spending $50 more for someone who has budgeted $100 for the processor. You have to compare similarly priced CPUs. I would like to see more comparisons with the Phenom II 550 BE for that reason.
    Reply

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