Intel Responds with...really?

Surely Intel wouldn't allow AMD to simply come within the range of being competitive this late in the year. I honestly expected Intel to combat today's launch with something, something serious, something sinister. And indeed it did.

But instead of sampling a Core 2 Quad Q9450, the upcoming Penryn replacement to the Q6600, and instead of even further dropping prices to completely ruin the Phenom launch party Intel responded in a way that actually doesn't make much sense: by sampling a $1000+ Extreme CPU, the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (click here for our review).


The QX9770, 1600MHz FSB and 3.2GHz, just salting the wounds

Running at 3.2GHz with a 1600MHz FSB (up from 3.0GHz/1333MHz of its recently released predecessor, the QX9650), the QX9770 isn't schedule for release until next year and we do know that it'll carry a price tag of over $1000. The timing of Intel's launch is obviously to disrupt AMD's Phenom thunder, but the most important part of Intel sampling QX9770s has nothing to do with the chips themselves, but rather the act.

Almost as soon as we had Phenom samples, Intel made the decision to sample a CPU requiring a FSB that wasn't officially supported by any chipset at the time. No, 1600MHz FSB support won't come until next year with the X48 chipset, but it didn't matter to Intel; we were getting chips now.

Take a moment to understand the gravity of what I just said; Intel, the company that would hardly acknowledge overclocking, was now sampling a CPU that required overclocking to run at stock speeds. Even more telling is that Intel got the approval of upper management to sample these unreleased processors, requiring an unreleased chipset, in a matter of weeks. This is Intel we're talking about here, the larger of the two companies, the Titanic, performing maneuvers with the urgency of a speed boat.

It's scary enough for AMD that Intel has the faster processor, but these days Intel is also the more agile company.

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  • agello24 - Saturday, February 16, 2008 - link

    im still not ready to switch to intel. ill be buying my phenom shortly. Reply
  • GenoR32 - Tuesday, February 05, 2008 - link

    I still believe in AMD, and i know they will release a nice product line-up in the coming months, or probably 2009... i have a Core2 PC now b/c i cant deny the fact that they are really strong CPU's... but my DDR3 upgrade will be on an AM3 system... i think they will be really competitive.

    Greetings
    Reply
  • eye smite - Monday, January 07, 2008 - link

    I didn't comment on this review when it first came out cause I didn't want to read the whole thing. It reads more like a rant on a blog than a review, he didn't want to go to Cali, so what. In the time since this article the phenom has proved to be a good cpu, I noticed in the last week that HP and Gateway have started selling systems in Best Buy and Circuit City with phenoms. This cpu was rushed out and it will take a bit of time to mature. It's the same thing we saw with the athlon64 from 2k3, had it been as developed as it needed to be, they would not have gone from socket 753 to 939 to am2 and so on. Amd should have made the smaller leaps to a quad core athlon64 til phenom was ready, but they have bad decision makers these days it seems. Reply
  • Hellrazor0628 - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    Well I think that intel got the processing but i realy dont think at the first place that the phenom is ready they need time and money to be able to get rev. in good working and debuged intel had that money and time they realy took their time befor shoing up with core2 wonld say tow years almost. Amd had already a small part of the market enven whene they give the best performance for the price even compaired to the best intel. To say it I realy was hoping the truth native quad core phenom would be better proccesing too but in ther other hand there are a lot of technogie that need to be looking at about amd that poeple sould take a look at about the phenom that is key to all amd cpu that people are too stupid to look at and understand. like power comp. wtf man there is a bus and a memory controler my nvidie chip set coul burn and egg and it only have to run the pci and pci-x. Reply
  • hoelder - Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - link

    I remember to have to save food of my mouth to buy the first ill conceived Pentium or the 486. How Intel set those prices evades me. They maximized their profits with no competition. Yes I know Intel produces a faster chip, if faster is the right word. However, when it comes down to competition and the markets, AMD is the strategically right choice. Unless of course you think that the Walmart buy cheap toys from China idea is your consumer ideology then you should stick with Intel, that actually is going like Nixon to China or you believe in the consumer choices should keep competition open. Reply
  • mpholland - Friday, November 30, 2007 - link

    Maybe AMD just had to release these early to make a little capital this year. Personally I think that it is good that AMD let people know SOMETHING is close. I am hoping that with a little tweaking AMD and some MB partners can get performance up a little and be competitive with Intel sometime in 2008. I have seen just simple driver tweaks work wonders on other hardware, maybe just a little more time can help. Reply
  • Clauzii - Thursday, November 22, 2007 - link

    -- Reply
  • Clauzii - Thursday, November 22, 2007 - link

    By reading through the benchmarks, where a single core (of a quad) is compared to all four cores running, it looks like the 8 core version of the "Phenom" would scale even better than the four-core one. The Barcelona btw. also shows this behavior, by having one core being just a little faster than the Opteron core, but the four running in tandem scales very well.

    Because of the not-so-good MHz numbers, it might not take AMD to new glorious heights for now, but when (soon?) 8 cores arive, AMD MIGHT be able to do better, because of their better core-scaling factor.

    Looks like they HAVE to do something like gluing together two Phenoms to at least do 8-cores before intel, and before intel gets TOO fast for AMDs liking and the ability to catch up slips away.

    Unless AMD already is working on a true 8-core design, which would probably scale even better than a glued one. And by incooperating knowledge on multithreading from ATIs designing of GPUs they might be able to do something even more serious in the future.

    But for know, intel is still in the lead.
    Reply
  • praeses - Thursday, November 22, 2007 - link

    I really wish that AMD never went down the road of L3 cache for these processors. As the majority of applications still used today in the desktop/workstation market are going to be only one or two cores, the shared cache itself probably causes more of a hindrance.

    Personally I would have liked to see 128k L1 and 1MB of L2 for the higher models, and simply the 512K L2 for the lower models. The tweaks to the individual cores would almost enable them to catch up clock per clock with Intel without this L3 cache latency getting in the way, and that way powering down the individual cores would also power down all the cache they would be using as well. I realize that routing the L2 cache in larger quantities is trickier and consumes more die space than L3 but they should also be able to gain significantly cost measures in those produced without L3 and be able to compete better in the $180 or so market.

    Granted if a single application was single threaded and the only one taxing the system while taking advantage of all the L3 at once, and the other 3 cores were sleeping, it would be a slight disadvatage, but that's an extreme situation.
    Reply
  • WorkIsAFullTimeHobby - Thursday, November 22, 2007 - link

    I think Anandtech power consumption graphs are way off. Phenom power consumption sould be compared to Penryn power consumption plus NSB power consumption. Does any body see any mention of this fact and do the graphs properly account for this?

    Phenom effectively has the north side memory controller bus built in. After looking at the Architecture now I know why Intel is always trying to increase MB bus speed. They only have one external bus to feed and comminicate between all the CPU's.
    Reply

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