Phenom B3 is right around the corner...by Gary Key on February 9, 2008 1:00 AM EST
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The bouncing ball release schedule for the long awaited Phenom B3 revision that fixes the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) errata has taken a favorable bounce according to our sources. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) plans on releasing three versions into the retail market in the early April time frame. Fortunately for consumers, it appears that AMD will change the product designations in order to differentiate the B3 series from the current B2 release.
Unfortunately, we will not see a significant increase in bin speeds as the new models are coming in at 2.2GHz (9550), 2.3GHz (9650), and the 2.4GHz (9750). It also appears the current pricing structure will remain somewhat in tact although a final decision has not been made by AMD. Also, there will be a BE edition, but once again whether that will occur with the 2.3GHz (9650) or 2.4GHz (9750) is not finalized.
We originally expected the 2.4GHz (9700) and 2.6GHz (9900) parts to be released in late Q1, but after the TLB errata fiasco, those products were basically dropped in favor of getting the B3 series ready. Our sources indicate the Phenom 9950 being launched in late Q2, possibly Q3 at this time with a clock speed of 2.6GHz. This places AMD once again in an awkward position of not being able to respond in a timely manner to Intel's new Penryn based Quad-Cores that will be available shortly at speeds anywhere from 2.5GHz (Q9300) to 3.2GHz (QX9770). The current 3.0GHz (QX9650) being available for a few weeks now.
The good news is the TLB errata fix in the B3 will not incur a performance penalty when compared to the current BIOS enabled solution. A solution that so far causes performance penalties up to 18% in certain applications and BIOS configurations. While the current beta version of AMD's AOD utility allows you to turn off the TLB fix, we have found performance still suffers slightly. This also holds true with current BIOS releases that offer an enable/disable function compared to early release BIOS spins that ignored the TLB problem. We hope to have a B3 based Phenom shortly for testing to verify AMD's performance claims.