Higher Clock Speeds, No TLB Issues and Better Pricing: The New Phenomby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 27, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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Now this is more like the AMD we're used to seeing. It's not quite the performance dominating AMD of years past, but it's a competitive AMD. The Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition is, despite its lower performance in many cases, an actual competitor to Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 thanks to its price. The value is even more impressive if you happen to have a Socket-AM2 motherboard that can accept a 9850 as a drop in replacement.
AMD does continue to have some weaknesses, mainly when it comes to DivX and gaming performance and neither of these areas are going to get fixed while remaining on an unchanged architecture. That being said, AMD is standing in a much better space right now and is competitive enough that Intel had better be paying attention.
The Core 2 Quad Q6600 is becoming long in the tooth and could stand a quick transition to the Q9300, which Intel appears to have scheduled for next quarter. The $266 price point, while very aggressive, leaves a lot of room for AMD to come and play in the $175 - $250 space. Intel needs cheaper quad core offerings, especially once AMD starts shipping its triple core Phenom in retail.
If you're building a new system, Intel is still the way to go and once 45nm pricing/availability works out the value proposition will only improve. What's changed is that AMD is now a realistic alternative. Just four months ago there was no point in even considering Phenom, but today it is a viable alternative. If AMD could simplify its lineup a bit and squeeze some extra frequency headroom out of its chips, all while keeping its aggressive pricing we may just have a return to competition in the desktop CPU space.
Exciting times are ahead as well. AMD seems very confident in its 45nm transition, which should bring about higher performance and clock frequencies. Around the same time we'll be seeing the very first Nehalem CPUs from Intel, and before we know it it'll be 2009 and time to talk about Bulldozer. I've always said that AMD had a good roadmap, it just needs to be given the chance to execute on it; these new Phenom processors may able to buy AMD the time it needs to do just that.