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

  • chizow - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I kinda agree with the others about this being a massive fluff piece. The following take on clock speeds really emphasizes the bias built into this article, about Phenom's clock speeds and potential performance:


    AMD told some members of the press that there was nothing special about these 3.0GHz Phenoms that were demoed, which begs the question - what happened?

    There's nothing particularly magical about the 3.0GHz number, but the problem is this:

    and on the very next page:


    We aimed for 3.0GHz and while we could get into Windows and run some benchmarks, we couldn't get it 100% stable. In our opinion it's highly unlikely we'll see AMD release a 3.0GHz Phenom on 65nm this year. It may be possible on 45nm but it's still too early to tell if that'll be this year or not.

    There isn't anything special about 3GHz, AMD just can't get this hot turd to run that fast, period.
  • pomaikai - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Just bought a phenom for an upgrade. It is the old stepping, but the person I got it for will never do virtualization or overclock. I couldnt pass up an OEM Phenom 9600 for $132. Reply
  • Dribble - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I agree Q9300 is no Q6600 replacement because the whole point of the Q6600 was you could over clock it to get a real high performance part. Because the Q9300 uses the 333 fsb trying to get over clocks similar to even the Q6600 requires a much higher fsb. Particularly as the max fsb for a quad is significantly lower then for dual's, you'll max out most motherboards before you even reach the max possible Q6600 speeds. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Q9300 is a reaplcement if your not an overclocker it has better stock perfomrance and to most of intel's OEM's it is, so overall it is a better. From both a stock performance and energy consumption standpoint.

    If your trying to overclock you will likely need at least the Q9450.
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    I have been waiting to build a system now for a couple months and I really wanted to use the 9450 due to the 12mb cache compared to the Q9300. The newegg out of stock price, however, is listed at $380!!!

    My price sweetspot for a CPU has always been around $300 since I only upgrade systems every 3-4 years so am willing to spend more on the cpu than other components.

    Anand, do you happen to have a comparison between the 9450 and 9300 (preferably at the same clock speed?) to see exactly how much that doubling of L2 cache helps in different situations. I primarily game, but always multitask and have other programs running so would really like to know if that extra 6mb is helpful (especially in the next 3 years).

  • archcommus - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    My situation exactly. I was hoping to build a new system first week of May with a 9450, due to wanting a quad-core 45nm part with the best cache/price ratio, but it doesn't look like it will be affordable by that time (I'm willing to pay $316, not more though). So I too am curious if the 9300 will fit the bill (also planning to keep for 3-4 years). Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    AMD still make stinky stinky. Pew! Reply
  • formulav8 - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Grow up. Intel doesn't like you. Reply
  • Proteusza - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Is it all possible for you guys to release the replay which you used to test performance? I want to compare my system to these, because I'm considering upgrading to Phenom. Pity MSI hasnt released a BIOS update for my motherboard that allows it to use Phenom CPUs, so I might be waiting a while (its a K9N SLI Platinum, in future I will just buy Asus).

    Note to anyone who plays Supreme Commander with a multicore CPU - there is a tool that improves performance by allocating threads to CPUs better. It is specific to SupCom, which tends to have one CPU with 100% usage, and the rest with 20%. The tool automatically adjusts the affinity. Go to forums.gaspowered.com and look in around for a thread related to Core Maximizer.
  • michal1980 - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Ok amd is doing better. The Q6600 has been out for what? over a year now. And its still owning AMD's baby. And to top that off, I though the whole 'pure' quad core technology was supposd to be better then the lets slap 2 dual cores into one package method of Intel.

    Its nice Amd can FINALLY start to play with the big boys... But the way this article was written is just garbage, A year late and a dollar short.

    As for price the q6600 is dropping all over the place... Frys had it for 180 yesterday, Microcenter has it for 200.

    So why is this article written in such postive light for AMD? A nice paycheck for the author. The conclusion is clear... Intel OWNS AMD. The price difference on the market is 0. The ability to overclock the q6600 is as easy as switching the bus to 1333mhz, and the ownage will grow.

    So yes amd made an improvemnt over the crap they had. However their current cream of the crop is owned by the 1+ year old stuff.

    Its like getting into the hotest club right before they close... Wow you got in... But its time to go.

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