I believe many of you remember the triumph of the first 64-bit x86 Athlon 64 processors. They were the ones that made AMD processor leader for a significant period of time: until Intel started rolling out their CPUs on Core micro-architecture. It was then that AMD’s era of success came to an end and hard times set it. For over a year and a half AMD fans hope for the new solution to finally come out that will help this company regain their high-performance maker title. That is why Phenom is one of the most impatiently awaited solutions of the year 2007. Numerous hopes were pinned upon it.
And finally the waiting is over. The curtain of mystery has been raised over the new AMD Phenom processor and we a chance to check out this achievement using bare facts and figures. Which will hardly please those of you who expected this processor launch to change the CPU market dramatically. Despite all indisputable advantages and technological innovations, Phenom processors available today and scheduled to come out later will hardly be able to compete successfully with quad-core Intel CPUs. Especially, with those that will belong to 45nm Yorkfield generation.
The performance of quad-core AMD Phenom processors based on K10 micro-architecture that is none other but enhanced and modified K8 micro-architecture proved considerably slower than any other quad-core processors from Intel Core 2 Quad family. That is why it would make perfect sense for AMD to position their new Phenoms as mainstream solutions. In other words, as budget CPUs with four computational cores.
This is actually the current AMD’s strategy already. Phenom 9500 and 9600 processors are selling at considerably lower prices than any Core 2 Quad solutions. The current retail price difference between Phenom and Core 2 Quad does reflect the fact that Phenom 9500 is 17% slower and Phenom 9600 – about 14% slower than their competitor.
So, it looks like Phenom CPUs will not win the enthusiasts’ hearts just yet. Although they can overclock pretty well, they can only catch up with Core 2 Quad working in nominal mode at best. Therefore, even the launch of Phenom 9600 “Black Edition” with an unlocked multiplier will hardly create any additional interest among computer users.
The power consumption of the new Phenom processors is also not among their advantages. They require more power than their faster competitors, which makes them less attractive from the performance-per-watt prospective.
Summing up everything we have just said, I can conclude that Phenom has very vague market prospective. At this time they may be interesting only as inexpensive quad-core solutions used to upgrade the existing Socket AM2 platforms. Especially, since AMD made them compatible with the existing infrastructure. Also, they will most likely win some fans due to their low price. However in any case, AMD shouldn’t hope that the demand will grow massive.
In this situation AMD should focus on increasing the clock speeds of their new processors, because they no longer have the chance to offer a CPU with more advanced micro-architecture in the near future. Especially, since the today’s gap between the top Phenom and Core 2 Quad is almost 1GHz. However, Phenom CPUs with 3GHz+ speeds will hardly come out before they switch production to 45nm process that is scheduled to occur only in H2 2008.