The Phenom II X4 810 & X3 720: AMD Gets DDR3 But Doesn't Need Itby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 9, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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Lower TDPs, Faster un-core, DDR3 Support: The new Phenom II
All of the CPUs launching today are Socket-AM3 compatible. If you remember from my original Phenom II article, a Socket-AM3 CPU can work in both AM3 and AM2+ motherboards. I made a cute little compatibility matrix for you guys:
|CPU/Motherboard||Socket-AM2 MB||Socket-AM2+ MB||Socket-AM3 MB|
AMD carefully engineered its AM3 memory controller allowing it to operate in both DDR2 and DDR3 modes. Any AM3 CPU can thus work in either a Socket-AM3 motherboard with DDR3 memory, or in a Socket-AM2+ motherboard with DDR2 memory. Backwards compatibility with original Socket-AM2 motherboards is up to the motherboard vendor, AMD does not validate any AM3 CPUs in regular AM2 motherboards.
The new Socket-AM3. Socket-AM2/AM2+ CPUs won't fit in here. But AM3 CPUs will fit in AM2+ boards.
All of the Socket-AM3 Phenom II CPUs are 95W TDP parts, compared to 125W for the first two chips that launched in January. The other notable change is that all of the AM3 CPUs run their un-core (North Bridge + L3 cache) at 2.0GHz instead of 1.8GHz like the AM2+ Phenom II processors.
Socket-AM3 Motherboards: Don't Bother Yet
I've had a Socket-AM3 motherboard here for a while but honestly the performance just isn't worth it. While it's taken a while to get stability up to par with AM2+, overall system performance remains unaffected. The Socket-AM2+ to Socket-AM3 transition looks a lot like the Socket-939 to Socket-AM2 transition we saw back in 2006.
A Socket-AM3 CPU (left) vs. a Socket-AM2 CPU (right) Note the missing pins on the AM3 chip.
Thankfully AMD gives you the option to ugprade whenever you'd like. You can buy a Socket-AM3 CPU today and use it in either an AM2+ board or an AM3 board, provided there's proper BIOS support. DDR3 memory is still more expensive than DDR2 and offers no real world performance advantage even at DDR3-1333 speeds.
Note that Socket-AM3 CPUs will only officially support one DIMM per channel running at 1333MHz. You'll need to run at 1066MHz speeds if you're running four DIMMs. When DDR2 and DDR3 memory reach price parity at the end of this year, AMD will be in a good position to make the transition. But if you're buying today, find a good AM2+ board and some cheap DDR2 memory.
|Motherboard:||Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
MSI DKA790GX Platinum (AMD 790GX)
|Chipset:|| Intel X48
|Chipset Drivers:|| Intel 126.96.36.1990 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
|Hard Disk:||Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)|
|Memory:||G.Skill DDR2-800 2 x 2GB (4-4-4-12)
G.Skill DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB (5-5-5-15)
Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (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