How does AMD respond to Lynnfield? Is it by drastically cutting prices on Phenom II? Nope. By introducing the world’s first quad-core processor to debut at $99. Now that’s cool.

It’s called the Athlon II X4 and its existence shouldn’t be any surprise. AMD quietly announced it along with the Athlon II X2 line.

Today we get two models: the Athlon II X4 630 and the Athlon II X4 620, priced at $122 and $99 respectively. The only difference between the two is clock speed; the 630 runs at 2.8GHz while the 620 runs at 2.6GHz. These are both AM3 chips meaning they'll work in AM3 motherboards with DDR3 memory or AM2+ boards with DDR2 memory.

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 3.4GHz 2MB 6MB 140W $245
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $245
AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $225
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE 2.8GHz 1.5MB 6MB 95W $145
AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE 3.1GHz 1MB 6MB 80W $105
AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $122
AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $99
AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $87

This isn’t a harvested Phenom II nor is it a pair of Athlon II X2s, instead it looks like we have a brand new die on our hands (some Athlon II X4s will be crippled Phenom IIs but AMD insists that the new die will be used). The Athlon II X4 has four cores on a single die, but unlike the Athlon II X2 each core only has a 512KB L2 per core. You can tell by the die shot that the core-to-cache ratio is much higher than on the X2:

The 45nm Athlon II X4 Propus die

The 45nm Athlon II X2 die (note the larger L2 per core)

Like the rest of the Athlon II lineup there is no L3 cache. This helps keep the die small (and affordable) but also hurts performance:

Processor SYSMark 2007 Overall E-Learning Video Creation Productivity 3D
AMD Phenom II X4 920 (2.8GHz) 173 151 212 167 167
AMD Athlon II X4 630 (2.8GHz) 157 128 221 131 162
% of Phenom II X4 91% 85% 104% 78% 97%


At the same clock speed the Athlon II X4 should offer roughly 90% of the performance of a Phenom II X4.

Processor Cores Manufacturing Process L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache Die Size Transistor Count
AMD Phenom II X4 4 45nm 128KB per core 512KB per core 6MB 258 mm2 758M
AMD Athlon II X4 4 45nm 128KB per core 512KB per core 0MB 169 mm2 300M
AMD Athlon II X2 2 45nm 128KB per core 1MB per core 0MB 117 mm2 234M
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8xxx 4 45nm 64KB per core 4MB 0MB 164 mm2 456M


The price is unbeatable. If we ignore the 630 for a moment, the Athlon II X4 620 is by far the cheapest route to four cores on the market. Intel’s most affordable quad-core is the Core 2 Quad Q8200 at $163, while AMD would previously charge you $163 for a Phenom X4 9600B. This is where the AM3/AM2+ compatibility play really helps out. Motherboard/memory costs are as cheap as possible thanks to AMD's incredible socket flexibility.

And just in case you’re wondering, yes, the Athlon II X4 620 actually delivers performance competitive with the Q8200 but for 60% of the cost. It’s not all that clear cut, there are some cases where the 620 is faster but others where the Q8200 is much faster. On average it ends up being a wash but you’ll want to pay attention to the coming pages to see how the cookie crumbles as it does vary from test to test.

Codename Propus

Overclocking isn't unfortunately as good as the Phenom IIs; the result of a conscious design decision or simply the early nature of the Propus die. That being said, without a single extra millivolt I was able to hit 3.25GHz on my Athlon II X4 620 sample - making it even more valuable. Extra voltage proved mostly useless, I could only approach 3.4GHz with an extra 300mV.

Let’s see, have I thoroughly ruined the surprise? Check. Now let’s get to the tests.

The Test

Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset: Intel X48
Intel X58
Chipset Drivers: Intel (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Patriot Viper DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (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
SYSMark 2007 Performance
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • silverblue - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    Except for you I suppose?

    Imagine you own a car with a turbocharger. When you accelerate, the turbo just happens to kick in. Is it illegal for the manufacturer to have put the turbo in there in the first place?

    I agree it's not a completely parallel analogy due to the fact that a turbocharger provides a free power boost from otherwise wasted energy, but the point is that it's a part of the design and people have, and always will, accept that.

    How are the Lynnfield's results false? It clearly states in the nomenclature that the Lynnfield possesses a turbo mode designed so that the processor operates at a higher clock speed for a stated number of cores dependent on the load being imposed upon it. Imagine if a new SIMD instruction set appears and only AMD processors can use it, and software is accelerated as a result - is this illegal?

    I feel my intelligence slipping away as I try to reason with you.
  • the zorro - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    turbo overclocking is just overclocking, nothing else.
    overclocked results are illegal if you try to present them as stock speed results.
    you can call overclocking 'banana' if you want, but still that banana is illegal
  • Kaleid - Saturday, September 19, 2009 - link

    There is nothing illegal about it. Repeating it doesn't make it so.
  • silverblue - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    But they haven't! Why can't you see this?

    Let me put it another way. In single core mode, with turbo enabled, the i5 750 is clocked at 3.2GHz. The Phenom II X4 965 BE is STILL clocked at 3.4GHz and it STILL loses. And guess what, add turbo to more cores and they all slow down, thus making the 965 BE look even worse in most situations as its clock speed gap increases even further.

    I've read over those 3.8GHz results. No turbo mode (not illegal, then!). i5 still wins most of the benches. Granted, some of the tests are Intel-optimised applications, but a) it's not Intel's fault that AMD optimisations are lacking from specific programs, and b) in games with no specific optimisations for either architecture, the Lynnfield is still going to win because even with turbo enabled, the i5 750 is STILL clocked lower than the 965 BE and it's STILL equalling or beating AMD's strongest CPU.

    End of.
  • the zorro - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    don't fool yourself by over-thinking to justify an illegal activity.

    turbo overclocking is just overclocking.

    and phenom 2 955 beats core i5 750 at stocks speeds, that is lynnfield without overclocking.

    lynnfield is a failure, because when overclocked to 4ghz temps are almost 100C. and power compsumption skycket.

    phenom 2 overclocked to 4ghz is cool at 55C.
  • the zorro - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    if you overclock phenom 2 955 the same 600 mhz that lynnfield is overclocked, it wipes and mops the floor with lynnfield 750.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    Umm, check your numbers again. Unless you want to claim a 955 at 3.8GHz would perform differently than a 965 at 3.8 GHz. See here:">

    All the 3.8GHz numbers are clock-for-clock, with no turbo (and no HT since the 750 doesn't have it) and the only test where the 965 tops the 750 is the Lightwave3D portion of the multitasking test. The 750 does beat the 965 in the overall multitasking test.
  • the zorro - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    as you can see, at stock speed, when lynnfield 750 has turbo overclocking off, then phenom 2 965 annihilates lynnfield.
    look at all the tests.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, September 18, 2009 - link

    Well, yes, a 965@3.4GHz does beat a 750@2.66GHz, AMD's architecture isn't that far behind in most cases. But the only ones likely to leave the clocks stock are OEMs, who will also leave the turbo mode which seems to be the bane of your existence turned on. In stock configuration for both processors and looking at only the tests Gary conducted in the above article, the 965 carries advantages of 10%, 19%, -8%, -2%, -6%, 7%, and 12% over the 750. Using pricegrabber, Newegg has the best prices for each right now, at $199.99 for the 750 and $245 for the 965BE. This is a 22.5% difference in price, the performance gain is not that high in any of the tests. This is also ignoring all the tests in Anand's i5/i7 launch article, the majority of which the 750 topped the 965 in.
  • mdk77777 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    You buy a new Computer every five minutes?
    Really, I5 750 started shipping like a few days ago.
    Competitive product, but requires a new MB.

    Declare the end of the war after 1 Second of battle doesn't make much sense.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now