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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  • maddoctor - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    No, Bulldozer will never come because Intel will kill it with Sandy Bridge and if they successfully launch it, its fates will like Barcelona failure. I believe after this failure, Intel will make everyone happay with its cheaper product because Intel does not need a competitor. I like this situation. Reply
  • SunSamurai - Sunday, November 01, 2009 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=96&a...">http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=96&a...

    Oh look a cheaper AMD CPU outperforming a more expensive Intel CPU

    SUCK ON IT.
    Reply
  • maddoctor - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - link

    AMD Bulldozer hype will be ended with the most powerful processor in the world with Intel Sandy Bridge. BTW, If you have realized that Intel is better, don't go with crappy AMD processor. They could not design a processor like powerful Intel Processor. Reply
  • maddoctor - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    Good argument, these craps are better to placed it in the toilet. Who will buy these craps except AMDiot. Reply
  • narrenschip - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    What are the parameters/settings for the blender redering test? The description mentions 'a character that comes with the application', but as far as I know, there are no models/scenes included with the program.

    W;-)
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    We utilize the Flying Squirrel image for our render benchmark -
    http://graphicall.org/bbb/chars/flyingsquirrel.ble...">http://graphicall.org/bbb/chars/flyingsquirrel.ble...
    Reply
  • deimos3428 - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    It's nice to see some more low-end chips come out, but I'm not sure that there's all that much of a market for anything between say an Athlon II X2 240 and a Phenom II X2 550/Athlon II X4 620. Choice is good, but too much choice can get very confusing. Reply
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    That's why they're phasing out the Phenom II X2 and X3. It's a confusing time because there is a lot of Phenom II in the channel still, but soon the 705e, 905e, 945, 955 and 965 will be the only Phenom II CPUs available, the rest will be Athlon II. Reply
  • deimos3428 - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    Which has nothing to do with blender rendering. Oops. Reply
  • Slash621 - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - link

    I am extremely happy that you are utilizing an excel benchmark. I operate some huge models between access and excel and learning which processor will provide the best bang for the buck is of great business importance to me. Thanks again for all your hard work Anandtech Crew! Reply

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