When Phenom launched it was slow, later plagued by a performance-hindering TLB bug and priced entirely out of the realm of rational thought. It's a new year and while I'd like to say that AMD has learned from all of its mistakes and will be back to a fully competitive state, that's only mostly true. There are still significant struggles within the company but at least this launch is a step in the right direction.

Today's launch is actually much bigger than Phenom's original debut, encompassing a total of seven new processors:

  Cores Stepping Clock Speed TDP L2 Cache L3 Cache 1 Ku Price
AMD Phenom X4 9850 4 B3 2.5GHz 125W 2MB 2MB $235
AMD Phenom X4 9750 4 B3 2.4GHz 125W 2MB 2MB $215
AMD Phenom X4 9750* 4 B3 2.4GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $???
AMD Phenom X4 9650* 4 B3 2.3GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $???
AMD Phenom X4 9550 4 B3 2.2GHz 95W 2MB 2MB $195
AMD Phenom X4 9100e* 4 B2 1.8GHz 65W 2MB 2MB ~$200
AMD Phenom X3 8600* 3 B2 2.3GHz 95W 1.5MB 2MB ~$175
AMD Phenom X3 8400* 3 B2 2.1GHz 95W 1.5MB 2MB ~$150
*Denotes OEM Only

Ok, let's see if we can make sense of this. There are three new CPUs that you'll see at places like Newegg: the Phenom X4 9850, Phenom X4 9750 and Phenom X4 9550 running at 2.5GHz, 2.4GHz and 2.2GHz respectively. The 50 at the end of the model number means that these CPUs are based on the new B3 stepping, which includes the fix for the TLB erratum - in other words, these are the CPUs you want. The prices are also pretty reasonable, they are all finally cheaper than Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600.

The Phenom X4 9850 is a "Black Edition" part, meaning it ships with its clock multiplier unlocked. It is also the first Phenom to run its L3 cache/North Bridge/memory controller at 2.0GHz and not 1.8GHz like the rest of the Phenom lineup.

Here's where it gets complicated. AMD needed something to do with all of its B2 stepping Phenoms, so it's selling those to OEMs who don't really seem to care about the TLB bug. The CPUs with a * next to them are OEM only; although that doesn't mean that they won't appear in retail, they aren't intended for end user purchase.

The Phenom X4 9100e is AMD's first 65W TDP quad core CPU thanks to a relatively low operating frequency of 1.8GHz. Unfortunately it's plagued by the TLB bug since it's a B2 stepping core, so you have to take into account that its performance may suffer because of it. The same applies to the two new triple-core parts; the Phenom X3 8600 and 8400 are both quad core B2 stepping CPUs with one of the cores disabled. AMD doesn't have any plans to introduce a new, smaller triple-core die because the costs would be too great. Instead AMD wants to focus on getting its 45nm transition started before the end of the year.

AMD's plan is quite ingenious, keep the TLB bug CPUs out of the hands of the enthusiasts who will complain and use them to keep OEMs happy as well as use them for the first triple-core CPUs.

The OEMs don't completely get the shaft as there are two 50-series CPUs they get that we don't. First off there's a 95W TDP Phenom X4 9750 (most likely a lower yielding 9750 that just runs a bit cooler, hence the lower TDP) and next there's a Phenom X4 9650.

Within the next month or so, AMD will be releasing B3 versions of all of the remaining CPUs, so you'll see a Phenom X4 9150e, Phenom X3 8650 and Phenom X3 8400. In general, AMD told us to expect around a $50 price difference at the same clock speed between triple and quad core. Given that most applications still don't benefit tremendously from four cores, tri-core may be a nice way for AMD to compete with Intel's higher performing dual core options. As soon as there are B3 Phenom X3s available for review, we'll let you know how they stack up.

3.0GHz: Where Are You?


View All Comments

  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    What!!!! How darest though speak such blasphemy!

    AMD is your king! Bow to PHENOM!!! :) LOL

    sorry feeling a little silly today.
  • hvypetals - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Why are the Intel core 2 duo's outperforming the intel quad core cpus?

    Is it because the games cant see beyond a dual core?

  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Thats why I got the E8400 and clocked it to 3.6 ghz, it was cheap and it does very well for gamers.... Reply
  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Oh wait I could have saved 20 bucks and got a much slower AMD. Crap... Reply
  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Then I would have had an AWESOME slow CPU instead of a CRAPPY much faster CPU.... Reply
  • Roy2001 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Wow, that's superb logic! Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Most games can't "see beyond" one core, much less two, three, or four. Reply
  • nycromes - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    This is what I expected from AMD and from all of you here making comments. It has always astounded me that people will act like these chips are the equivalent of a 500mhz chip compared to Intel's chips. Its like saying my car has 375hp and yours only has 370, my car is soo much better than yours. The difference is there, but for most people, the difference is quite negligable.

    The differences amount to almost nothing depending on application. Sure there are better parts out there, but competition drives markets to innovate and will bring down prices. Oh how awful. The intel fanboys can ride their high horses still, but AMD releasing better products benefits us all. Try taking your heads out of that little box and looking at the big picture.

    I like to see AMD working on new products and hopefully they can get more competitive. We all need to be hoping for this so we don't see slowdowns in development and skyrocketing chip prices. I mean, look at the GPU industry compared to a few years ago and tell me that the situation is great for consumers. More competition = happier consumers. nuf said.
  • ap90033 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    you are right, and you obviously dont game. Intel=FPS=FTW Reply
  • mark3450 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    What a complete strawman. Look at the data, the best Phenom chip is getting beated by the q6600 by 20% in real world performance, not the 1% in your idotic horsepower strawman attack.

    Yes everyone understands that the lack of competion isn't good. The reason people bitch at AMD is that they want AMD to have a competative offereing, but that data clear says they don't. They know because of that there isn't going to be any competition in the CPU market for a long time. Yes that isn't good, but sticking your head in the sand and denying the reality of the situation doesn't help.

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