AMD products haven’t been able to attract the computer enthusiasts’ attention for a while now. Intel with their extremely successful Core microarchitecture pushed AMD into the back seat. Sadly, AMD processors have lost their strengths over the past few years. As a result, the year 2008 end didn’t look pretty for AMD: all their processors were slower, more power-hungry and not very attractive for overclocking community compared against Intel’s offerings. The consequences followed immediately: many computer users turned their back to formerly beloved AMD CPUs. And of course, it couldn’t help affecting the company’s market share that kept getting smaller over the past several quarters. In fact, it is only the aggressive price policy that has been keeping AMD afloat lately: Athlon and Phenom trademarks have long become symbols of affordability rather than high performance.
Unfortunately, Stars (K10) microarchitecture AMD introduced over a year ago failed to remedy the situation. Even though CPUs based on it used quad-core design and boasted a number of useful improvements, their consumer qualities were still not competitive enough. However, the microarchitecture was not the cause for this unsuccessful outcome; from the theoretical positions Stars (K10) microarchitecture is practically as good as Core. AMD’s stumbling stone was 65nm production process: the company fell far behind the competitor in adopting the new manufacturing technology. Therefore, all CPUs on Stars (K10) microarchitecture have so far been manufactured with the unsuccessful 65nm technology. The Athlon processor family is living proof of how fatal the issues of this manufacturing process were in AMD’s implementation: 65nm Brisbane processors couldn’t outperform 90nm Windsor CPUs in terms of supported clock frequencies. As a result, Phenom X4 faced the same challenges. The notorious production process wouldn’t let them raise the clock speeds to acceptable limits, so AMD’s flagship quad-core solutions quickly rolled down to the value market segment.
Therefore we were looking forward to AMD’s transition to new 45nm process, which was expected to become an ultimate remedy against many problems. And finally our patient waiting has been rewarded. A year later than Intel, AMD finally moves desktop CPU production to 45nm process. According to AMD, this milestone opens a new era for the company that is why the new processors using the latest technology will have a new name – Phenom II. The company fans and supporters expect to see Phenom II become a revolutionary breakthrough. But let’s not get ahead of time here and check out these promising new solutions inside out before making any conclusions of our own.