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  (Source: AMD)
Chipmaker delivers a 100 MHz bump to almost all of its lineup, its third refresh of the year for some models

Today Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., the world's second largest microprocessor maker, unveiled six new CPUs to hold off Intel while it prepares its next-generation architecture.

First, let's get a quick primer on AMD's CPU brand strategy, which can be a bit confusing.  AMD makes two major lines of CPUs -- a high end line dubbed Phenom II, and a budget lined dubbed Athlon II.  Athlon IIs lack L3 cache and typically feature slightly lower clock speeds.  Also, only Phenom II has a subfamily of hexa-core (6-core) CPUs, code-named "Thuban" -- Athlon II is only available in two-, three-, and four-core variants.  Both processors are built on a 45 nm SOI with immersion lithography process.

The Athlon II lineup has seen 3 refreshes this year (January, May, and now September), which have bumped processor speeds on the various lines by 300 MHz.  The Phenom II lineup has seen only two refreshes this year, though it also saw the launch of hexa-core models.

The latest refresh starts with the hexa-core Phenom II X6.  The Phenom II lineup saw the introduction of its first hexa-core offerings (the Phenom II X6 1055T and Phenom II X6 1090T BE) in April.  A third chip, the Phenom II X6 1035T, began making its way to desktops in May, though it still isn't widely available as an individual CPU.  The latest model, the Phenom II X6 1075T falls precisely between the X6 1090T BE and the X6 1055T in performance, though its a bit more competitive in turbo clock than the Phenom II X6 1090T BE.

Desktop Processors

Core Clock

Max Turbo

Cores

L3 Cache

TDP

Pricing

Phenom II X6 1035T

2.6GHz

3.10GHz

6

6MB

125W

~$175*

Phenom II X6 1055T

2.80GHz

3.30GHz

6

6MB

125W

~$200

Phenom II X6 1075T

3.00GHz

3.50GHz

6

6MB

125W

$245

Phenom II X6 1090T BE

3.20GHz

3.60GHz

6

6MB

125W

~$310















*Not widely available for individual retail.

Next up are Phenom II Quad- (X4) and Dual-Core (X2) designs.  With the introduction of refreshed "Black Edition" models with unlocked CPU multipliers, clock speeds have now been increased 300 MHz since April 2009, and 200 MHz since June 2009.  As with prior launches, the previous top-end models receive a price cut, and the new model jumps in at a similar price point.  These products are seen below.

Desktop Processors

Core Clock

Release Month

Cores

L3 Cache

TDP

Pricing

Phenom II X4 955

3.20GHz

April 2009

4

6MB

125W

~$153*

Phenom II X4 965

3.40GHz

Aug. 2009

4

6MB

125W

~$165

Phenom II X4 970 "Black Edition"

3.50GHz

Sept. 2010

4

6MB

125W

$185

Phenom II X2 550

3.10GHz

June 2009

2

6MB

80W

~$85

Phenom II X2 555

3.20GHz

Jan. 2010

2

6MB

80W

~$90

Phenom II X2 560 "Black Edition"

3.30GHz

Sept. 2010

2

6MB

80W

$105






















The Phenom II lineup generally competes against Intel's new Clarkdale CPUs and its higher end Nehalem models.

Wrapping up, AMD is offering one new higher clocked core to each of its three Athlon II budget lines -- the dual-core X2, the tri-core X3, and the quad-core X4.  These models have seen a roughly 300 MHz clock bump since last September, with three new releases.  The new models bump the previous ones down in price.

Desktop Processors

Core Clock

Release Month

Cores

L2 Cache

TDP

Pricing

Athlon II X4 630

2.80GHz

Sep. 2009

4

4x512KB

95W

~$95*

Athlon II X4 635

2.90GHz

Jan. 2010

4

4x512KB

95W

~$100*

Athlon II X4 640

3.00GHz

May 2010

4

4x512KB

95W

~$105

Athlon II X4 645

3.10GHz

Sept. 2010

4

4x512KB

95W

$122

Athlon II X3 435

2.90GHz

Oct 2009

3

3x512KB

95W

~$70*

Athlon II X3 440

3.00GHz

Jan. 2010

3

3x512KB

95W

~$74*

Athlon II X3 445

3.10GHz

May 2010

3

3x512KB

95W

~$78

Athlon II X3 450

3.20GHz

Sept. 2010

3

3x512KB

95W

$87

Athlon II X2 250

3.00GHz

July 2009

2

2x1MB

65W

~$63

Athlon II X2 255

3.10GHz

Jan. 2010

2

2x1MB

65W

~$64

Athlon II X2 260

3.20GHz

May 2010

2

2x1MB

65W

~$68

Athlon II X2 265

3.30GHz

Sept. 2010

2

2x1MB

65W

$76

































*Not widely available for individual retail.

AMD's Athlon's generally compete with Intel's Nehalem (45 nm, new architecture) and Penryn (45 nm die-shrink) series.

In all this looks like another minor, but solid refresh for AMD as it prepares its mobile low-power Bobcat, higher power desktop/server Bulldozer-based cores, and its new Fusion CPU/GPU die combos.  These designs will compete with Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs.  Intel may have the edge on performance, but AMD is staying competitive with pricing and aggressive refreshes. 

Of course there's a downside to every upside, and in the case of AMD's refreshes, the downside for consumers is a more cluttered, confusing market.   On the other hand, that seems a fair price to pay for improved performance.

(Price estimates for current models were mostly compiled using Newegg.com's prices.)




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