AMD's Phenom X3 8000 Series: Fighting Two Cores with Three?by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 23, 2008 9:00 AM EST
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AMD has been pretty active on the CPU front lately, last month we saw the Phenom re-launch with the B3-stepping 50-series quad-core processors and today AMD is unveiling its 50-series triple-core parts.
We've got the lineup below:
|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 9550||4||B3||2.2GHz||95W||2MB||2MB||$209|
|AMD Phenom X3 8750||3||B3||2.4GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$195|
|AMD Phenom X3 8650||3||B3||2.3GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$165|
|AMD Phenom X3 8450||3||B3||2.1GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$145|
Note that all three of the triple-core parts are 50-series CPUs, meaning they are based on the B3 stepping and do not suffer from the TLB erratum that plagued the early Phenom processors. AMD continues to ship B2 stepping CPUs, but most of them are to OEMs that aren't as concerned with the performance hit associated with the software TLB fix.
Pricing is also pretty interesting, as the top end Phenom X3 8750 is only $20 cheaper than the quad-core Phenom X4 9750 despite running at the same clock speed. The X3 8650 and 8450 are far more interesting as both of them are priced closer to $150.
There's now some overlap between AMD's triple-core Phenom and dual-core Athlon X2 offerings in terms of price, have a look:
|Cores||Clock Speed||TDP||L2 Cache||L3 Cache||1 Ku Price|
|AMD Phenom X3 8750||3||2.4GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$195|
|AMD Phenom X3 8650||3||2.3GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$165|
|AMD Phenom X3 8450||3||2.1GHz||95W||1.5MB||2MB||$145|
|AMD Athlon X2 6400+||2||3.2GHz||125W||2MB||0MB||$178|
|AMD Athlon X2 6000+||2||3.0GHz||125W||2MB||0MB||$167|
|AMD Athlon X2 5600+||2||2.8GHz||89W||2MB||0MB||$146|
The Athlon X2s still hold a tremendous clock speed advantage, but Phenom can do more work per clock. It will be interesting to see if three Phenom cores at 2.1GHz are a better buy than two Athlon X2 cores at 2.8GHz.
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JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkI've seen nothing to suggest a faster HyperTransport bus would help AMD much. You need to compare at the same CPU speed; if you raise the HT bus to 250 MHz that represents a 25% overclock of the CPU as well, so of course it helps performance a lot. Try comparing:
Athlon X2 4600+ 2.4GHz
Run at 200 HTT and 12X CPU vs. 240 HTT and 10X CPU
Athlon X2 4800+ 2.5GHz
Run at 200 HTT and 12.5X CPU vs. 250 HTT and 10X CPU
(Note: the 12.5X multiplier vs. 10X may have an impact - half multipliers may not perform optimally.)
Athlon X2 5000+ 2.6GHz
Run at 200 HTT and 13X CPU vs. 260 HTT and 10X CPU
Now, the one thing you'll also have to account for is memory performance. At default settings (i.e. DDR2-800), you get different true memory speeds. The 12X CPU will end up at a true DDR2-800; the 12.5X will end up at DDR2-714 (CPU/7 yields 357MHz base memory speed); the 13X will result in DDR2-742 (again, CPU/7 yields 371 MHz base memory speed). For the "overclocked HT bus" setups, you'll need to select the same memory dividers to get apples-to-apples comparisons, which depending on motherboard may not be possible.
Unless you can do all of the above, you cannot actually make any claims that HyperTransport bus speeds are the limiting factor. I imagine you may see a small performance boost from a faster HT bus with everything else staying the same, but I doubt it will be more than ~3% (if that). HT bus only communicates with the Northbridge (chipset), and the amount of traffic going through that link is not all that high. Remember, on Intel that link to the chipset also has to handle memory traffic; not so on AMD platforms.
ghitz - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkThe e8400 performance/power usage is outstanding and will be great value once the G45 boards trickle in. I can't wait for those G45s!
ap90033 - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkSo AMD STILL hadnt caught up. Thanks Good to know. Not that Im suprised....
natebsi - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkThe bottomline is: AMD's newest CPU's are bested in nearly every single benchmark by an Intel CPU thats been out like, what, a year?
I have no love/hate relationship with either Intel or AMD, but thats just sad. I predict many more losing quarters for them, though I don't know how many more they can take...
Griswold - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - linkThanks for that null-posting.
najames - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkAs a long time AMD only user, I just bought an Intel Q6600 on impusle from Frys.com for only $180. I was looking at a 780G solution and thought, I'll get the Intel quad and a similar Intel based solution for doing video processing work. Oops, I found out the only current Intel mATX is the G35 is from Asus, ONE BOARD, huge selection to choose from huh?
I'll either sell/return the unopened CPU or buy a P35 board and graphics card. I could deal with a slightly slower AMD 9550 CPU and a better platform instead, tough choice.
strikeback03 - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkI needed parts for a new system for the lab last week, I went with the non-integrated graphics and add-on card. Integrated graphics would have been fine for the application, but when the board plus card cost less than the ASUS G35 board (and are full-size ATX as well, which is useful) then the decision wasn't too hard.
Staples - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - linkIntel graphics have always been terrible. AMD definitely has the advantage for integrated graphics and even know their CPUs can not compete, I still find myself considering one just for their graphic options. I am glad that this review points it out bringing to light that Intel graphics are just not acceptable. Whether Intel will change is a big unknown, probably not.
I find the added emphasis over the last year of power consumption a great one. With the price of energy these days, it is something I factor into my purchase. SSE4 and a lower power consumption is the reason I am holding out for a Q9450. Hopefully by the time it actually goes into mass production (hopefully in the next two months), a decent integrated option will be out for the platform.
0roo0roo - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - linkterrible? i used an intel 950 integrated graphics with some 1080p content, it decoded just fine with an e2200.
derek85 - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - linkTerrible? Yes, terrible. Besides the lame hardware they can't even write proper drivers, see how many randering problems they have in the games.