Intel's 45nm CPUs: High Prices and Limited Availability, When Will it End?

Intel launched its first 45nm processors at the end of last year in order to somewhat stick to its annual tick-tock schedule. The Core 2 Extreme QX9650 made it out, but what everyone wanted were the mainstream chips - affordable 45nm for all.

At CES, Intel announced its full 45nm lineup which is as follows:

  Cores Clock Speed L2 Cache Size FSB 1 Ku Price Availability
Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 2 2.80GHz 6MB 800MHz $851 January
Intel Core 2 Duo T9500 2 2.60GHz 6MB 800MHz $530 January
Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2 2.50GHz 6MB 800MHz $316 January
Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 2 2.40GHz 3MB 800MHz $241 January
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 2 2.10GHz 3MB 800MHz $209 January
Intel Xeon X3360 4 2.83GHz 12MB 1333MHz $530 Q1 '08
Intel Xeon X3350 4 2.66GHz 12MB 1333MHz $316 Q1 '08
Intel Xeon X3320 4 2.50GHz 6MB 1333MHz $266 Q1 '08
Intel Xeon E3110 2 3.00GHz 6MB 1333MHz $188 Q1 '08
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 4 2.83GHz 12MB 1333MHz $530 Q1 '08
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 4 2.66GHz 12MB 1333MHz $316 Q1 '08
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 4 2.50GHz 6MB 1333MHz $266 Q1 '08
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 2 3.16GHz 6MB 1333MHz $266 January
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 2 3.00GHz 6MB 1333MHz $183 January
Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 2 2.66GHz 6MB 1333MHz $163 January


The first issue we had was that availability wasn't in January. We were able to benchmark mobile Penryn (the first five CPUs on that chart) in January, but you couldn't buy systems based on mobile Penryn until late February. The mobile Penryn issue ended up being more of a motherboard design problem than a chip availability issue, thus it makes sense that we saw desktop 45nm dual core CPUs in early February.

It's almost the end of Q1 and we are just now starting to see 45nm quad core desktop CPUs arrive, but the problem with both these and the 45nm dual core chips is pricing. Take a look at the table below:

  MSRP Street Price Premium
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 $266 $299 +$33
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 $183 $259 +$76
Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 $163 $239 +$76


Most of the 45nm lineup is still not available for purchase in the channel. The three CPUs we've listed above are the only ones (out of 6) that you can actually purchase at Newegg, and they all sell at a premium. The quad core Q9300 carries the lowest premium of them all at $299, while the two dual core CPUs are selling for $76 more than what they should be thanks to high demand and limited supply.

We know supply is limited, the question is why? Intel's latest roadmap actually helps answer that. The chart below shows a breakdown of processor shipments into the consumer desktop space as a function of time, so you get an idea for the breakdown of 65nm vs. 45nm for each quarter of 2008:

Current 65nm Core 2 Quads sell for MSRP and they are represented by the second block (light blue) at the top of the Q1 stacked bar. The 45nm Core 2 Quad supply is but a sliver by comparison (5% of Intel's shipments are 65nm Core 2 Quads, while 2% are 45nm Core 2 Quads). It would be safe to assume that once Intel's 45nm Core 2 Quad shipments are similar in size to the 65nm shipments today that we should see prices stabilize. If you look at the Q2 bar you'll see that next quarter Intel will produce more 45nm quad core CPUs than 65nm quad core CPUs, and at that point you can expect to see availability of the Q9300, Q9450 and Q9550 - all at reasonable prices, with no premium.

Now let's look at what's happening in the 45nm dual core space. Over 40% of Intel's production in Q1 was 65nm Core 2 Duos, and around 3% were 45nm Core 2 Duo processors - no wonder these things are selling at insane premiums. It's also worth noting that since demand for the dual core CPUs is so much higher than for the quad core chips and supplies are just as tight, the premiums are higher (explaining what we saw in the table above).

Unfortunately, relief for those interested in 45nm dual core won't come for quite a while. In Q2, Intel's 45nm dual core shipments will grow from 3% to 12%, but not to the 40%+ level it needs to be to satisfy demand. The 45nm premium on dual core CPUs will be down from its current levels, but we won't see these things selling at MSRP until Q3.

It's normally a good thing for AMD when Intel CPUs are more expensive, but not exactly in this case. The problem is that AMD needs Intel's quad core CPUs to be more expensive since that's where Phenom is trying to compete, but the Q6600 is still available at MSRP and the Q9300 et al will be selling at MSRP in the next 1 - 3 months.

Overclocking B3, a Little Better The Core 2 Quad Q9300: Benchmarked
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  • fireedo - Saturday, May 24, 2008 - link

    can we call this fair comparison since AMD side using only DDR2 800 Mhz and Intel side using DDR3?
    can that things makes any differences in benchmarking?
    if so then this comparison is not valid
    sorry no offense :)
  • magnusr - Saturday, April 12, 2008 - link

    Consider the power usage of the 9850 compared to the Q9300.

    If you get the 9850 for free and pay full price for a q9300, then you leave both systems running for an x amount of time, the 9850 will then after a x period of time be more expensive (considering expensive power bills).

    Common AMD you can be better than this. When Athlon 500MHz came out they rocked the boat until Intel came out with core 2, amd just got lazy....

    Currently running Q6600 @ 3GHz, had it for almost a year now.
  • js01 - Friday, April 11, 2008 - link

    When i saw the crysis bench and saw the 9500 only getting 27 fps I ran the same bench with my system which consists of Phenom 9500, hd 3850, k9a2 cf, and 2gb ddr 800. My results were 53.095 fps average, 70.70 max, and 34.24 min. It just goes to show you the only benchmarks you can trust are your own.
  • ntavlas - Saturday, March 29, 2008 - link

    AMD can`t compete in the high end, there is no doubt about that. But I think their real purpose with this launch is improving their presence in the mainsteam. Since they can`t reach the clock speeds or instructions per clock of intel they use more cores. This approach does have it`s merit: in 4 threaded apps they are faster than intel`s dual cores in the price range. Of course they are much slower in 2 thread applications but this doesn`t tell the whole story: a core 2 8200 might be faster than a phenom 2,2 when running a 2 threaded benchmark, but don`t forget that the later still has 2 cores in reserve that can be used for other tasks. It`s something that can improve the users computing experience in real word situations.
    Of course if you can afford an intel quad core, by all means go for it, it is the better chip, but I think that up to the $200 price point the phenoms make good sense.
  • Thorsson - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Despite the lower power consumption the word I'v heard is that Intel's new 45nm Quads can't take extra voltage and consequently don't OC as well as the Q6600.

    It would have been nice to see Anandtech address this issue.
  • JustAnObserver - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    I love seeing you morons arguing about who has THE best, clock per clock, top extreme black super duper alpha and omega overclocking part. When the enthusiast processor is more like a ferrari. Nice to show, but who really mekes the big money is Toyota and their common cars. You see MOST people won't overclock, MOST people won't CrossFire nor SLI, MOST people just want an average system for a day in day out workload. So the only thing that really mather is this:

    Keep struggling for the Extremely Over priced parts, so that the average parts (AMD or Intel, whatever) keep coming cheaper and cheaper every day. After all, I'll get, let's say, 75% of your performance, but pay less than 50% what you paid. Sounds nice to me.

    But hey, thats just me.

    Ps.: You americans are funny, you can't even realize that the US only answers for 7% of the world processor market. And the rest of the world is a bit smarter about how to spend their money.
  • gochichi - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Intel outdid itself, kind of shot too high I guess. Look at how Apple for instance hasn't released an iMac with the Q6600... if they did, it would completely mess up their line up and price points.

    Anyhow, AMD's "competition" is pretty lame, was I the only one to notice how far inferior the Phenom line is to the tried and true Q6600. Everybody knows it's basically a downclocked chip... can easily do 3.0ghz. The only reason Intel doesn't do that is that it doesn't fit in the market.

    There is currently nothing in the horizon to handily beat a 3.0-3.2Ghz Intel Quad so they are showing very little interest in maxing themselves out.

    Dell should absolutely feel ripped off, so many years trying to carry both intel and AMD only to achieve that when AMD makes relatively junky chips.

    Anyone can plainly see (hindsight is 20/20) that purchasing a Q6600 the day it came out was the best value to be had in years (both before and after).

    I did not, but I finally have one (whole computer w/ Q6600 was $400) and I feel very confident that its performance will be relevant for a couple of years to come still.

    We are pampered to death these days... technically the Phenom is plenty but it's just not Intel-grade. Pentium 200 MMX for $380 anyone?

    Furious computing power is now more affordable than ever and with power envelopes (Intel-wise anyway) that will hopefully bring the form factors down even further. Even graphics cards are being re-corrected in terms of efficiency... they were runaway for a while there.

    I think that's what the 2000's are all about, nothing new, just delivering on old promises. Finally computers that approach "fast enough", worlds more reliable and affordable.
  • papounet - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    The article is lame, it is utterly biased in its conclusion.
    The logic it tries to build around the fact that here is no speed improvment (" We get the impression that there are some speed paths that could be optimized on the current B2 and B3 Phenoms that simply aren't because of a very sensible thought process. AMD is still on track to begin shipping its first 45nm Phenom processors (Deneb core) by the end of this year and it doesn't make sense to waste time and resources respinning a 65nm Phenom, when presumably these clock speed issues are addressed at 45nm.") displays an absolute ignorance of the CPU design business. This stepping was an attempt to speed up the whole Phenom and improve yelds (and not only to correct the TLB bug). It does not at all deliver the speed bump (2.5% improvment ?). so let's claim that AMD did not try ... Ahahah.
    With the pressure from Intel and Wall Street and OEM, AMD can not afford to do yet another stepping to try to fix their technology and/or their design and/or their process, so AMD wil bet on 45nm to fix everything.

    Some other sentences just made me laugh "While we only had a few hours left over to test the overclocking stability of the 9850 it does look like it may be the first Phenom capable of easily breaking the 2.6GHz barrier." how difficult is this when starting from 2500Mhz ??

    "In our opinion it's highly unlikely we'll see AMD release a 3.0GHz Phenom on 65nm this year. " Indeed

    The Phenom with this performance level is one year too late to compete. It is useful for people who have bet on the m2+ plateform. but how many did ?
    The model released at 2500 Mhz is very close to the design limits of the stepping (little overclocking room).

    The Q6600 is not the best chip ever (celeron was, then the XP-mobile, then core2duo 4500), but is is rather good.
    With some research it was possible to buy the Q6600 B0 just when it came out at a decent price: it was cooler , cheaper, faster than s3 stepping and most motherboard bugs around quads had been solved.
    The higher fsb of the Q9300 as annouced by Intel could be already seen as limiting the potential easy overclock.

    Did I need today that my q6600 bench at 3.6 Ghz on air on a GA-p35ds3p with 4 gig of crucial ballistix ? i run it on a daily basis at 3.2 Ghz at nearly stock voltage.

    :-) OK not all my buys are as smart

    (I am no fan of Intel or or AMD. I have used parts from both to build computers professionally and I still dabble into the hobby).
  • eye smite - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link

    Why am I seeing an Intel review when the article is supposed to be about Phenom? Is this the same cry baby ranter that did the original phenom review for AAT back in November? I see sticking to the facts and being professional isn't a high priority at this site, but hell I knew that already just from reading the articles on daily tech.
  • rodh - Thursday, March 27, 2008 - link


    the PATCH for the TLB error causes a performance hit, but all the TLB error does is cause instability in extremely rare situations involving hardware virtualization (when did you last use that) on multiple cores at the same time.

    Cant stand it when people overblow this error. Not that it matters anymore, its fixed.


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