A month ago AMD introduced the world’s first quad-core processor to debut at $99. Last week, AMD announced its third quarter earnings for 2009. While the company as a whole lost money, the Product Company (CPU and GPU design) turned a small profit. I don’t want to say that the worst is behind AMD, but things are definitely looking up.

Income Q3 2009 Q2 2009 Q1 2009
AMD -$128 Million -$330 Million -$416 Million
AMD Product Company +$2 Million -$244 Million -$308 Million

 

And for the consumer, AMD is providing a ton of value these days. You're getting more transistors per dollar than Intel will give you, and it's not just bloat, these things are fast:

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/X3 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
Intel Pentium E6xxx 2 45nm 64KB per core 2MB 0MB 82 mm2 228M

 

The value train continues with todays introduction of the first triple core Athlon II processors: the Athlon II X3 435 and 425. Clocked at 2.9GHz and 2.7GHz respectively, these processors are simply Athlon II X4s with one core disabled.

 

They’re also quite affordable. The 435 will set you back $87 while the 425 costs $76. This puts them on par with Intel’s Pentium E6000 series dual core processors, but cheaper than the Core 2 Duo E7500. This has been AMD’s high end dual core strategy for the Phenom’s life: sell three cores for the price of two. And in the past, it has worked.

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 X3 435 2.9GHz 1.5MB 0MB 95W $87
AMD Athlon II X3 425 2.7GHz 1.5MB 0MB 95W $76
AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $87
AMD Athlon II X2 245 2.9GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $66
AMD Athlon II X2 240 2.8GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $60

 

The X3s AMD is announcing today are clocked high enough that you still have good performance in single threaded applications, and in those that can take advantage of three cores you’re almost guaranteed to have better performance than the Intel alternative.

The real question you have to ask is whether it makes more sense to spend a little more than get a quad-core processor or not.

The Athlon II X3s are 45nm 95W TDP parts and work in both Socket-AM2+ and Socket-AM3 motherboards. As I mentioned before, these are architecturally identical to the X4s just with one core disabled. That means you get a 512KB L2 per core but no L3 cache.

I’ll spoil the surprise for you here: they’re faster than the equivalently priced Intel CPUs in most cases, but that’s not too surprising.

The Athlon II X3 435 is a bit more overclockable than the X4 620. Without any additional voltage we got 3.25GHz on our 620 sample, but our 435 yielded 3.33GHz:

With an extra ~15% voltage we could get 3.63GHz:

AMD is also introducing a slew of energy efficient Athlon IIs as well. They’re all in the table below:

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache TDP Price Premium
AMD Athlon II X4 605e 2.3GHz 2MB 45W $143 +$44
AMD Athlon II X4 600e 2.2GHz 2MB 45W $133 +$34
AMD Athlon II X3 405e 2.3GHz 1.5MB 45W $102 +$26
AMD Athlon II X3 400e 2.2GHz 1.5MB 45W $97 +$21
AMD Athlon II X2 240e 2.8GHz 2MB 45W $77 +$17
AMD Athlon II X2 235e 2.7GHz 2MB 45W $69 +$9

 

These energy efficient processors are binned for lower voltages and thus have a 45W TDP. Unfortunately you do sacrifice clock speed in some cases as a result. There's also a hefty price premium, at the high end you lose clock speed and pay 44% more for a 45W TDP.

 

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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  • jtleon - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    Many thanks for this excellent followup post!

    jtleon
    Reply
  • maddoctor - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    Your post is pointless. Why Sony, Samsung and Apple is exclusively using Intel processors. Because they are know that Intel processor is more powerful and consuming less energy than AMD's craps. Reply
  • erple2 - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link


    QUOTE BLOCK:
    I am pwning plenty of i7's, Q6600's, E8500's, Phenoms, etc. with my lowly dual P3 box running the AGP port.
    /QUOTE BLOCK

    In price? Or power consumption? I can't imagine it's anything else. The P3 was marvelous for it's time, but we've moved on since then.

    (PS: could someone fix the quote block or any of the other rich text tags? Bold, Italics, Underline and Quote all cause an error when I try to post with them in it)
    Reply
  • jtleon - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    In GAME! Try expanding your game portfolio - not all games = CRYSIS!

    LOL,
    jtleon
    Reply
  • fsdetained - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    I agree not all games are crysis but I do feel like playing more than solitaire on my computer. GTFO. Reply
  • jtleon - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    I gladly accept your challenge.

    Please join me in FEAR Multiplayer (2005 release) at this very popular server:

    ===T=U=R=B=O+=== TDM

    At your earliest convenience, BTW my usual res is 1600x1200.

    Feel free to view my winning P3 box here:

    http://www.techpowerup.com/gallery/1480.html">http://www.techpowerup.com/gallery/1480.html

    Anand please forgive this post for being so off topic.

    Regards,
    jtleon
    Reply
  • brotherkung - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    Game portfolio? To what? Unreal Tournament 1 or Maple Story? Not everyone enjoys running modern non-Crytek titles at 800x600 with the lowest possible settings either. There are plenty of people in the market who are willing to pay a very modest price for decently performing low-midrange hardware. Reply
  • lukem33p - Friday, August 20, 2010 - link

    Profit only works when the product sells. AMD has not created an image for itself amongst normal people. This is like the Wii vs the XBoX 360. No one cares about the XBox 360 even if it is a better value cause no one has hardly heard of it. The Wii is priced the same, performs far worse, and has far simpler games, but outsells because they found the market, and the market stays loyal.

    And yes, I own an ATi Radeon HD 5770, so I am not an AMD Hater. I just wish that AMD would be competitive in ad campaigns. Get the word out!
    Reply
  • jtleon - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    After diggin through all of Maddoctor's delightful and humorous comments, I find myself asking this question...

    Why does HP, Dell, Gateway, Acer, Lenovo, and all other PC makers choose to offer ANY AMD products in their portfolios?

    I think Maddoctor forgets that those in business of making computers can make MORE profit using AMD than they can make using Intel. After all, PROFIT is the driving force of business.

    Joe public does not care what CPU is working for him, as long as the job gets done, in a reasonable amount of time. Joe Public could care less if he has supercomputing capabilities...for his VIDEO GAME.

    I am pwning plenty of i7's, Q6600's, E8500's, Phenoms, etc. with my lowly dual P3 box running the AGP port. The fact remains, 99% of computer users on this planet could care less who (AMD or Intel) is running their applications, as long as they pay next to nothing for the computer.

    Even Maddoctor can understand this fact.

    Regards,
    jtleon

    Reply
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    First off, is anyone from AT reading this? Why is that maddoctor guy not banned yet? He replies to every single post and is clogging the forum. As a matter of fact I think this new processor is totally pointless, but that guy is unbearably annoying to me. Just say what u want and shut up.

    My personal opinion is that this is just another one of AMD marketing gimmicks of faking 'keep development going'. They have no development going. Nada. Zilch. They first development that will hit the market will be the Buldozer.

    Tell me what performance or price gap did this processor fill? Tell me what justifies it's existence? No it is not faster than the E7500. Are you kidding me? Look at your own diagrams for one's sake. Oh, by the way the E7500 will OC to 4Ghz on air!

    This processor offers NO exceptional value at all. Not compared to AMDs line, not compared to Intel's line. This is the truth, and AT knows it.

    That said, I am not rooting for Intel at all. I have the brains to see what will happen if AMD runs out of blood, because it sure is hell is bleeding like crazy right now. It has been in the red for a long time, and intel again announced fat profits yesterday.

    Most Core2Duo prices haven't decreased at all for the last year and a half. I hate Intel for that. Why don't they do it? E8500 still costs ridiculous $189. Because they don't have to. Because AMD still hasn't come up with anything better than the Core2Duo. THe best they can do is match it.

    Also, I believe the people that read this forum are PC enthusiasts, and even if they don't make much money they will save until they can buy a descent component. Who in his right mind is gona buy this ridiculously crippled and handicapped garbage? Even if I build a PC for my mom, I will just get something basic for $50, not this grotesque $85 uselessness.

    I just hope things turn around with the buldozer and Intel gets some REAL price pressure.
    Reply

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