Articles: CPU

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Today, when Windows 7 OS launch is getting closer by day, AMD is rolling out quite a few new processors. Most of these CPUs are energy-efficient solutions from Athlon II family with two and four computational cores and relatively low clock frequencies, which maximum calculated thermal design power is 45 W. However, a few “standard” 95 W Athlon II X3 400 processors also got in-between their energy-efficient fellows. These are the products that are of primary interest to us today, because so far AMD hasn’t had any triple-core CPUs from Athlon II family, i.e. without L3 cache memory.

The launch of triple-core Athlon II X3 CPUs can hardly be called a big surprise. Being an exclusive manufacturer of processors like that, AMD pays special attention to these solutions. They are great from marketing as well as technical standpoints. On the one hand, Phenom II X3 and Athlon II X3 CPU series provide the company with an extra way of putting partially defective quad-core dies (with the defects in one of the cores) to good use. On the other hand, triple-core AMD processors are positioned as an alternative to dual-core Intel CPUs, which definitely appeals to those users that have already felt the benefits of multi-core architectures.

Since AMD cannot offer high-performance processors that could successfully compete against Intel Nehalem based CPUs, they chose different approach. The company focused on inexpensive solutions that would be superior in functionality to Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Duo and Pentium processors within the same price range. For example, new triple-core Athlon II X3 are targeted for sub-$90 price range, which means that they are competitors to dual-core Pentium processors recently enhanced by Intel by raising their clock frequencies and introducing 1067 MHz bus support.

By launching Athlon II X3 processors AMD concludes the expansion of their product lineup using 45 nm cores. Now the CPUs from this manufacturer start lining up according to very strict hierarchy: top CPUs have L3 cache and are called Phenom II, junior models have no L3 cache and are called Athlon II. However, there are quad-, triple- and dual-core processors in both CPU series.

But I have to admit that this great diversity causes certain confusion in terms of market positioning. For example, the manufacturer offers not only new Athlon II X3 400, but also quad-core Athlon II X4 as well as Phenom II X2 and Athlon II X2 in the $90 price range.

It is sometimes tricky to find your way in this variety of choices that is why today we are going to pay special attention to finding out which AMD processor from the corresponding price range will be a better fit for which type of tasks.

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