Fleshing Out the Family
AMD is unveiling their AM3 platform today with the launch of the Phenom II X4 810 and the Phenom II X3 720. These sub $200 processors are paving the way for DDR-3 support with AMD processors. While their support for DDR-3 is nice, they still are compatible with AM2+ sockets and DDR-2 support. These two processors help to flesh out AMD’s offerings for the budget marketplace, and should allow AMD to transition that much faster to all 45 nm parts.
Some weeks ago AMD released their first 45 nm desktop class processors with the introduction of the Phenom II X4 940 and 920 series of products. These processors showed some significant improvements over the previous Phenom 9×50 processors, and we received a clockspeed increase to 3 GHz which made the Phenom II much more competitive with the Core 2 Quad series of products from Intel. While the Phenom II still could not match the overall performance of the i7 920 and 940 parts, it at least gave AMD a fighting chance in the +$200 range of processors.
Since the introduction we have seen Intel respond with price cuts on their Core 2 family of parts, which forced AMD to make adjustments to their prices as well to keep the price/performance ratio similar to what actually is correct (or nearly so). The way the current economy is dragging out though, I am uncertain that Intel wants to start another price war with its smaller opponent, as everyone will end up losing. So do not expect big price drops for some time, until at least later this Spring or early Summer.
The two Phenom IIs that we are reviewing today are the first members of the AM3 family of parts. While they are based on the same 45 nm core that the X4 940 and 920 parts use, AMD has moved the processors to the AM3 socket which introduces the ability to run both DDR-2 and DDR-3 memory technologies.
AM3 chips can run in both AM3 sockets, as well as AM2+. AMD does not recommend running AM3 parts in the older AM2 sockets, as they are not validated for that kind of usage. Plus it is something of a crap shoot if the manufacturers are even supporting those products with BIOS updates. Theoretically it is possible to run AM3+ in AM2, but it just is not something I would consider doing with the potential risks of frying a brand new AM3 processor.
The new Phenom IIs are on the left hand side, and the Qx 9770 is only there for display reasons. The two new Phenoms are physically identical on this side with the B3 Phenom on the right.
The big question with this launch is why AMD is introducing lower spec’d parts on the new AM3 platform than going with a fully functional product running at 3.0 GHz and above? There appear to be many reasons for this right off the bat, and we will be going into them later.