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Could mean mainstream transition from dual core CPUs

AMD has been doing a decent job competing in the mainstream and value CPU markets, but it is facing increasing pressure from the world's largest semiconductor company. Intel holds the current desktop CPU performance crown with Nehalem-based Core i7 processors, and has just started shifting the technology into the mainstream with the launch of the Core i5.

Facing a performance gap, AMD is introducing two new quad core Athlon II CPUs, including the first processor below $100. Just three months ago, AMD launched its first dual-core Athlon II CPUs at similar prices. OEMs are loving this move, as they will be able to market AMD's quad cores against computers with Core 2 Duos at the same price point.

"The new AMD quad-core processors offer the right balance between excellent performance and price, and allow HP to continue to be a best-in-class provider of consumer technology," said John Cook, a VP from HP.

The Athlon II X4 630 and 620 CPUs run at 2.8GHz and 2.6GHz respectively, with 2MB of L2 cache but no L3 cache. AMD's 45nm process allows them to make these chips relatively cheaply, but it will still have an effect on the company's gross margins. The company  expects these chips to be paired up with motherboards using its 785G chipset, which has an integrated ATI Radeon 4200 GPU and support for DisplayPort.

Currently, Intel's cheapest quad core is the Core 2 Quad Q8400, selling at $163 in volume to OEMs.

All of these new processor launches are in preparation for the launch of Microsoft's Windows 7 on October 22, which is expected to be the catalyst for a wave of PC purchases throughout the busy Christmas shopping season.

Quad core CPUs have accounted for a small percentage of CPU shipments until now because of high price premiums and lower single thread performance in games. However, many games are now taking advantage of multiple threads, and Windows 7 has also been given some enhancements to improve multi-core performance.

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Price War
By TomZ on 9/16/2009 12:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like this is probably the next round of the CPU price war. Intel will surely have to respond by dropping some prices on their lower-end parts.

$99 for quad core...who would have ever thought?!?

RE: Price War
By robertisaar on 9/16/2009 12:51:03 PM , Rating: 2
i got my Phenom X4 for less than $100 in March...

RE: Price War
By Kefner on 9/16/2009 1:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Which one did you get? I paid like 170 for my 940 back in the spring.

RE: Price War
By robertisaar on 9/16/2009 1:23:28 PM , Rating: 2

yeah, its the cheapest and least powerful, but it IS a quad-core and can be had for less than $100 for quite some time.

RE: Price War
By Etern205 on 9/16/2009 11:52:29 PM , Rating: 2
The reason it's cheap is because it's plague with the TLB bug.
TLB fixed ones are model as xx50.

RE: Price War
By Etern205 on 9/16/2009 11:55:47 PM , Rating: 2
Unless you have the B3 stepping.

RE: Price War
By Cypherdude1 on 9/17/2009 9:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you want to buy a bottom-of-the-line AMD CPU when you can buy a top-of-the-line i7 920 Intel CPU for $199? While buying a top-of-the-line i7 920 Intel CPU would cost more, it will also last much longer since you wouldn't need to replace it. This saves you the trouble and hassle of buying another system and reinstalling all your software.

RE: Price War
By xti on 9/17/2009 9:52:09 AM , Rating: 2
some people might be trying to build a box ~400-500 dollar range...$100 bucks is a huge chunk of that. And a project like that... the performance you get from the extra $100 will never be used.

RE: Price War
By johnsonx on 9/17/2009 11:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
An i7 920 is $280. Yes, you may sometimes luck into one on a special sale (a loss-leader), but that doesn't count for making general price-point statements like that.

You also have to consider platform cost - a LGA-1366 mainboard goes for $170 and up. You could have an Athlon II X4 620 cpu/board/RAM combo for as little as $210, versus $520 or so for the i7-920. Even if you consider the i5-750 (which actually is $199), you're still looking at a cpu/mobo/ram cost of $350... somewhat more competitive, but still significantly more expensive.

RE: Price War
By JediJeb on 9/17/2009 5:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, and if you are not a heavy gamer, that $100 you save will buy you a video card if you don't want the intergrated one. Or a case if you do.

RE: Price War
By Cypherdude1 on 9/18/2009 5:27:58 AM , Rating: 2
An i7 920 is $280. Yes, you may sometimes luck into one on a special sale (a loss-leader), but that doesn't count for making general price-point statements like that.

Actually, there is a major computer retailer only 5 miles from my location which has been selling the " Intel i7 920 Boxed " for $199 for months. Google SKU 930933 and what I have quoted. You'll find it.

However, now that the newer Intel Core i7 860 Lynnfield CPU has arrived with its built-in PCIe controller and better power management functions, it may be better to simply buy the 860 instead.

In the past, I never purchased Intel CPU's. They were simply too expensive and AMD offered more value. I am still using an AMD CPU. However, Intel has now outpaced AMD in terms of technology.

RE: Price War
By nafhan on 9/16/2009 1:38:08 PM , Rating: 3
You can get a Phenom 9650 for $110 or less. Problem is, it's a last gen 65nm part running at 2.3Ghz. It'll almost definitely be slower than these new Athlon's.

RE: Price War
By mattclary on 9/16/2009 4:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
I paid $79.99 for this one a month ago:

RE: Price War
By G2cool on 9/16/2009 2:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
I never even thought my IntelDX4 was going to be topped for less than $100...

RE: Price War
By Reclaimer77 on 9/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Price War
By clovell on 9/16/2009 1:26:20 PM , Rating: 3
Consumers don't care how old a product is - they care how much it costs and what it can do for them.

RE: Price War
By xti on 9/17/2009 9:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
exactly, you should see how many semprons sell worldwide.

RE: Price War
By crystal clear on 9/16/2009 3:23:19 PM , Rating: 2
Mainstream computing dont really need quads to get things done,without sacrificing performance.

Mainstream buyers get easily impressed by the " get more for less"...more cores for less money.
They fail to realize that more cores doesnt really mean better faster computing.

The mainstream trend now is NOT desktop, but Notebooks/Netbooks/handhelds etc ....desktop product are slow movers nowadays.

AMD is using the usual tricks in marketing of rebranding with some minor tweaks to unload their inventories.

AMD has severe cashflow problem,so the need to unload those inventories.

OEMs dont really get impressed by such deals..."Intel inside" still sells well at the retail level & that ensures a steady cashflow.

RE: Price War
By TomZ on 9/16/2009 4:24:11 PM , Rating: 3
While I agree that laptops and netbooks are where the growth is, don't forget that desktops still comprise a very large segment of the market - probably 45% or so. That is a LOT of unit sales - a LOT.

And I agree that to most folks, having four cores isn't going to make a huge difference compared to two. But on the other hand, it is a marketing benefit - given the choice between a dual-core machine and a quad-core machine at a similar price point, the consumer will probably "buy up." That's the nice thing about a $99 processor.

In addition, there are actually many times an "average consumer" might put all four cores to use. For example, suppose a guy has a digital camcorder, shoots some home movies, and then decides to burn a DVD. Well, that's a massive transcoding operation, and many of the transcoders are already using as many cores as possible. In that case, the quad-core machine is going to get the job done a lot faster.

RE: Price War
By crystal clear on 9/17/2009 2:27:06 AM , Rating: 2
given the choice between a dual-core machine and a quad-core machine at a similar price point, the consumer will probably "buy up." That's the nice thing about a $99 processor.

AMD themselves contradicts you with this opinion below-

“Today’s consumer cares about what they can do with their PC, not what’s inside ,” said Nigel Dessau, CMO of AMD.

RE: Price War
By AstroGuardian on 9/17/2009 2:45:12 AM , Rating: 3
You think so? The average user does not have a Raptor, SSD or RAID STRIPE. The processor can handle the trans coding operations but the HDD will fail to deliver I/O ending up with Swiss cheese like DVD.

The CPU is less and less important for speed now as are other components like I/O controllers, hard disks, USB devices etc.

RE: Price War
By dark matter on 9/16/2009 5:05:31 PM , Rating: 3
Did you fail to read the part where HP stated they are impressed?

RE: Price War
By crystal clear on 9/17/2009 2:07:30 AM , Rating: 1
Yes only if & when it sells well in the market & seriously contributes positively to their cash flow.

This is what AMD says-

“Today’s consumer cares about what they can do with their PC, not what’s inside,” said Nigel Dessau, CMO of AMD.

Now as per AMD opinions ....consumer dont really care "whats inside" ...a quad or anything else etc

So impressing them a low priced quad doesnt get you much, besides some publicity that doesnt contribute much to the cash flow or to their sales figures.

RE: Price War
By crystal clear on 9/17/2009 2:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
Should read-

So impressing them with a low priced quad....

By Uncle on 9/16/2009 1:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
Well my duel core opteron, for me, is still not being taxed to the max. When I see cpu utilization at 100% constant then I know its time to move on. Until most software is written to use all the cores then yes its nice to see the improvements inside the chip, their is no advantage for me to spend on the newer tech. Its great for businesses that code for the newer chips.

RE: x2
By armagedon on 9/16/2009 2:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
same here opteron x2 939, runs great with all games. Still x4 for that price is quite an achievement and may help AMD stay in the game..

RE: x2
By CrazyBernie on 9/16/2009 2:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
CPU utilization is not the same as speed. Just because an application isn't using 100% of your CPU doesn't mean it won't run faster on a faster processor.

RE: x2
By omnicronx on 9/16/2009 2:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes!! my Opty lasted me forever, and still runs strong on my home server. Would have kept using it as my main computer if 4gb DDR ram kits were not so damn expensive (if you can find them in the first place).

RE: x2
By HrilL on 9/16/2009 2:58:09 PM , Rating: 3
heh I got loads of ddr chips not being used at all. finding any old new parts is hard if not impossible to find at a decent price. They cost a lot when they are brand new and they cost a lot when they are old as well. Weird how computer parts are like that.

Back in the day my school wanted to upgrade to 512MB of ram from 256MB but the problem was it was SD 133 ram. they had stopped making it for a few years so they ended up spending 130 for a 256MB chip when you could get 512MB ddr chips for $50. After spending all that money they ended up replacing the machines a year later because they were too slow. Wasting money at its finest. Sometimes you need to look at your options and just go with all new stuff and it will end up being cheaper and better.

RE: x2
By dark matter on 9/16/2009 5:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
Ebay is your friend.

RE: x2
By afkrotch on 9/17/2009 4:56:06 AM , Rating: 2
and your worst enemy. As computer parts get phased out and are no longer manufactured, those still in existance will increase in cost. This will start to translate over to ebay as time continues.

I sold my old Crucial Ballistix Tracers 2 GB DDR-500 kit for more than I bought them for. The money went towards an upgrade to Corsair Dominator 4 GB DDR2-1066 kit, with money to spare. As long as you hold onto parts for long enough, their price will climb back up and many times, will go over the cost of what they originally were.

I'm currently not at home, but I think a decent AGP card (68xx series or 7800 series) still cost more than they were first sold for. I really don't know for certain. Ebay is blocked at work.

RE: x2
By Parhel on 9/17/2009 8:47:41 AM , Rating: 3
I sold my old Crucial Ballistix Tracers 2 GB DDR-500 kit for more than I bought them for. The money went towards an upgrade to Corsair Dominator 4 GB DDR2-1066 kit, with money to spare.

You may end up making money on your RAM again. I have probably the same kit in my machine - 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066. I paid about $65 a year or two ago when I built the system. Today, the same kit is $105 after rebate.

RE: x2
By JediJeb on 9/17/2009 5:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
Now I really feel like I need to upgrade my AthlonXP Mobile 2400 and ECS L7S7a1 with ATI 700. Just upgraded from Win2K to XP last year, now this, oh will the upgrades never end lol.

Paper launch?
By Spivonious on 9/16/2009 12:32:42 PM , Rating: 2
I saw announcements all over the place about these this morning, but nothing comes up on Newegg when I search for Athlon 620.

RE: Paper launch?
By TomZ on 9/16/2009 12:41:35 PM , Rating: 2
The real question is whether they are available to OEMs/ODMs. Not being available retail doesn't mean it is a paper launch.

RE: Paper launch?
By BladeVenom on 9/16/2009 1:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
They've already raised the price so they are over $100.

RE: Paper launch?
By bhieb on 9/16/2009 1:23:58 PM , Rating: 5
Nah Newegg raised the price for "free shipping".

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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