ConclusionsThis AM3 launch will be a disappointment to some, mainly because there is not a high end part that goes with it, nor do we see a massive increase in performance per clock by going to DDR-3 memory. It is still an immature, though stable, platform. Performance will eventually get up there once the motherboard guys figure out the new memory controller and AMD provides potential micro-code updates.
The X4 810 is a nice part which will make quite a few folks happy. It does not run really hot, it does not pull all that much power, and it certainly performs well considering the price it is at. In most tests, in comparing to previous results from the Phenom 9950, it was about 5% faster overall than its predecessor at that same speed. It does hold 2x the L3 cache as the 9950, and the extra internal tweaks are likely to help as well. Currently it is one of only a few chips that will fit in AM3 motherboards, so if a user who is adamant about buying an AM3 platform with a quad core CPU, they have no other choice but this processor. In the next few months we should see the higher performing parts be introduced on AM3, but that is not today. Luckily, these parts do fit in AM2+ boards, so if a user has one of these boards and is looking for a 45 nm part that is less expensive than the X4 940 Black Edition, and can be overclocked, then this might be a good candidate for them.
The real star of this show is the X3 720 BE. Overclocking this is a breeze, and its performance even at stock speeds is nothing to sneeze at. Once up at 3.5 GHz and beyond, the real fun starts.
The X3 720 is probably the most interesting part that this release is seeing. The three cores, slightly lower power consumption, better overclocking performance, and the performance of 3 cores for less than the price of a competitive dual core from Intel. Triple cores still have not seen a lot of acceptance from users and OEMs alike, but this particular product might turn a few heads. In most of the single threaded applications, the X3 720 fared about as well as expected against the Core 2 part. The Core 2 still has an IPC advantage, and in this particular case the E8500 is also 366 MHz faster. If single threaded apps are all that will be running on a machine, then the extra money for a E8400 or E8500 might be warranted. If a user is starting to dip into more multi-threaded apps, then the triple core turns into a real beast. Consider also the easy overclock to 3.5 GHz and above, and the processor becomes a bit of a firebreather.
AMD has a ways to go with the AM3 platform before it is much of a success. Right now the AM2+ is doing fine, and certainly the chipset and motherboard selection is pretty robust. Being able to use these AM3 parts in AM2+ boards will really help to push acceptance of these new products, and likely AMD will have good sellthrough. It is good that AMD was able to flesh out their processor lineup with these new 45 nm parts, but they still have a ways to go to be fully competitive in each market with Intel. With AMD’s constant improvement philosophy, these parts will continue to get better as time goes by.
AMD was not able to offer a world-beater again with the AM3 launch, but they certainly have a much healthier lineup of parts that are well above $100 per chip. This hopefully will help to keep AMD afloat during hard times, and unlike Intel, AMD is better off moving forward release dates rather than delaying products. While it appears as though Intel is delaying their i5 (mainstream Nehalem processors), AMD is going full bore with these new AM2+ and AM3 parts on 45 nm. It also helps that the AM3 parts introduced here are an upgrade for anyone that runs a 65 nm AM2+ part.