AMD Beefs Up Its Phenom II Desktop Processors - InformationWeek

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AMD Beefs Up Its Phenom II Desktop Processors

In the second half of this year, AMD plans to introduce Phenom processors, code-named Kodiak, for business-class desktops.

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Advanced Micro Devices on Monday unveiled three quad-core and two triple-core 45-nanometer desktop processors that can take advantage of the latest memory technology, a feature missing in the first release of the new platform.

The latest Phenom II processors fit either AMD's AM2+ or AM3 sockets. The latter technology supports DDR3 memory, which is faster than the older DDR2 technology in the AM2+ socket.

Unlike the first batch of 45-nm desktop chips, the latest group is targeted at mainstream computers. The first batch of chips -- the 3.0 GHz X4 940 and 2.8 GHz 920 -- are higher-end offerings for computer enthusiasts and gamers.

The new processors include the quad-core Phenom II X4 2.6 GHz 910, 2.6 GHz 810 and 2.5 GHz 805, and the triple-core X3 2.8 GHz 720 Black Edition and 2.6 GHz 710. All five chips can be plugged into AM2+ sockets running older chips for an immediate speed bump, or they can fit upcoming systems with AM3 sockets. All the processors support AMD's so-called "Dragon Platform" for high-performing desktops. The platform matches AMD chips with its ATI Radeon HD 4800 services graphics processors and the AMD 7-series chipsets.

AMD is giving extra marketing to the X3 720 and X4 810, which the company claims offer better value than competing chips from Intel, the Core 2 Duo E8400 and the Core 2 quad-core Q8200, respectively. AMD says its chips provide better performance at comparable or better prices. The X3 720 sells for $145, which $20 less than Intel's product, while the X4 810 sells for $175, only $5 more than Intel's chip, according to AMD.

Performance testing of the two AMD chips found that "both processors are competitive with similarly priced offerings from Intel, trading victories depending on the application being tested," testing site HotHardware found. "Overall though, Intel still has the performance edge clock-for-clock and core-for-core."

Pricing for the remaining three new chips are $125 for the X3 710. Pricing for the X4 910 and 805 was not available. All the chips run at a maximum power consumption of 95 watts. AMD's highest performing desktop processors consume a maximum of 125 watts.

In the second half of this year, AMD plans to introduce a 45-nm generation of Phenom processors, code-named Kodiak, for business-class desktops. For mainstream desktops, AMD plans to introduce Pisces, code name for a platform that combines 45-nm Phenom II quad- and triple-core processors with DDR3 memory and the upcoming RS880 chipset.

AMD is struggling to reach profitability while competing with the far larger Intel. The smaller chip company in January reported a $1.4 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, the latest of a string of quarterly losses that stretch back more than two years.

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