Two Is Four Minus Two
Before we get to know the characteristics of the new Athlon X2 7000 from the Stars class, let us say a few words about the prerequisites for their arrival. The thing is that these prerequisites are not so evident: this is not the unification with the Phenom processors. The launch of Athlon X2 7000 series will not mean that the Brisbane based models have to go. On the contrary, these two families will coexist. Moreover, according to current AMD roadmap, Athlon X2 from the old 5000 and 6000 series will remain in the market even longer than the today’s newcomers. Therefore, we see the main reason for the new Athlon X2 7000 series to appear as AMD’s desire to get rid of the quad-core dies production scrapping. There is in fact indirect proof to this fact: the new Athlon X2 7000 are based on the same semiconductor die as the triple- and quad-core Phenom processors.
However, refreshing the dual-core processors lineup by introducing more up-to-date architecture into it may also be a way of making dual-cores more popular. It is no secret to anyone, that there haven’t been any changes in Athlon X2 family for quite a while now. As a result of no action in this segment on AMD’s part, these processors have little by little moved into Budget market sector. And regular dual-core production announcements from Intel have helped this process tremendously.
Anyway, AMD chose the simplest approach to creating new Athlon X2 7000 series processors: they used a standard quad-core Agena die from Phenom X4. Just like Phenom X3 (Toliman) processors are built from Agena with one disabled core, the new Athlon X2 7000 (codenamed Kuma) are built from the same Agena with two disabled computational cores. In this case, however, it would seem more logical to name the new dual-core processors Phenom X2, but AMD marketing specialists base their decisions not that much on logics, but on how well the trademark is recognized by the community.
Therefore, we shouldn’t expect anything really new from the specifications of the Athlon X2 7000: everything there must be quite predictable and transparent. To prove it let us offer you a table comparing side by side the characteristics of the existing AMD processors with Stars (K10) microarchitecture:
So, Athlon X2 7000 has fewer cores compared with Phenom, however, it didn’t affect the 2MB L3 cache, the HyperTransport bus frequency or the typical heat dissipation. It is actually not surprising at all, since Phenom and Athlon X2 7000 are based on identical semiconductor dies. The only thing that really catches your eye when you look at Athlon X2 7000 specifications, is the clock frequencies. The CPUs from the new series will have higher clock speeds than triple- and quad-core Phenom processors. However, the difference is still not very dramatic – only 100MHz. They may have been able to increase the clock frequencies by that number without raising the TDP due to fewer operational cores in the new processors.
The Athlon X2 family on Stars (K10) microarchitecture currently includes two models: Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition working at 2.7GHz and featuring an unlocked multiplier and Athlon X2 7550 working at 2.5GHz. They will launch Athlon X2 7450 with 2.4GHz clock speed a little later. The first two processor models will be priced around $70-$80, which means that they will be positioned rather strangely. The thing is that being positioned as competitors to Intel Pentium Dual Core, they fall into the same price range as Athlon X2 processors on K8 microarchitecture. So, Athlon X2 7000 models will be also competing against AMD’s own previous generation CPUs. At least from the pricing standpoint.
I would like to draw your attention to one more curious fact. The model numbers of the new Athlon X2 7000 series processors all end with “50”. According to AMD’s own rules, it means that they belong to B3 processor stepping that is free from the notorious “TLB-bug”.