While it is no surprise that AMD was going to offer lower clocked Athlon IIs, it is nice to see that they have done so in a timely manner and with a very nice eye towards price.  As we well know, the Athlon II is based on the Phenom II architecture, but with double the L2 cache but no L3 cache to speak of.  This gives the Athlon II very good performance, but at a remarkably smaller overall die size.  These dual cores are slower than the Phenom II X2s, but the difference in overall performance is not all that great compared to the huge disparity in die size (and considering that the Phenom II X2 is a recovered X4 die with only two cores active).  The new Athlon II X2 245 and 240 are clocked at 2.9 GHz and 2.8 GHz respectively, and the 240 is set to be priced at a very reasonable $67.

AMD Releases New Athlon II's and a Lower TDP Phenom II - Processors  1

These cores are not unlocked, which is rather unfortunate in some ways.  If a user wants an unlocked core, then they have to buy the Phenom II X2 550.  That part is just shy of $100 these days after rebates and specials, so I can see why AMD would not want to muddy the field with too many Black Edition products in the sub $100 range.  Still, the Athlon II is a respun and slightly redesigned Phenom II at heart, and with a smaller die and much lower power consumption, overclocking an unlocked part would be particularly interesting.

The other news from today is the release of a 95 watt TDP Phenom II X4 945.  This is the AM3 version of the 3 GHz Phenom II, and we originally saw it in the early January release of the Phenom II X4 940, which itself was only AM2+.  AMD is still a controlling owner of GLOBALFOUNDRIES (I should just macro that damn name), and as such they still do work as they have when it was part of AMD.  This means a continual process improvement program, and we can see the fruits of their labors with the latest version of the Phenom II X4 945.  Going from a 125 watt TDP down to 95 watts in such a short period of time (6 to 7 months) is actually quite impressive considering that there have been no major changes to the actual design of the processor.  AMD’s (and now GF’s) 45 nm SOI process is very robust, and it certainly impressed most of us with the initial debut of the X4 940 all those months ago.  I think the future of foundry work is quite bright for GF, and in the next 30 days we will hear who has chosen GF for their foundry work (other than AMD obviously).  It certainly seems like GF has a big leg up on TSMC and other 3rd party foundries, and if they can continue at this pace, and be profitable, then I think we will see a big change in the landscape of foundry work.