Articles: CPU

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Power Consumption

Our previous tests showed that AMD solutions manufactured with 65nm process cannot compete against contemporary dual-core Intel processors. It seems that the today’s launch of the new Phenom II X2 and Athlon II X2 processor series could easily turn things around, because these processors use more energy-efficient dies manufactured with more progressive 45nm process. It is especially true for Athlon II X2, which is based on the new Regor core with simpler internal structure. Besides, AMD claims a 65W thermal envelope for this particular processor family – exactly the same as Intel sets for their dual-core processors these days.

Therefore, we were especially curious about the results of our upcoming power consumption tests. The numbers below show the total power consumption of the tested platforms (without the monitor). During our tests we used 64-bit LinX 0.5.8 utility to load the systems to the utmost extent. Moreover, to ensure that we estimate the power consumption in idle mode correctly we activated all power-saving technologies, such as C1E, Cool'n'Quiet 3.0 and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep.

Despite all AMD’s efforts aimed at lowering the power consumption of their platforms and introduction of Cool’n’Quiet 3.0 technology that uses additional energy-efficient modes for the new 45nm processors, systems built around dual-core Intel CPUs remain a little more energy-efficient.

We see a similar picture under maximum load: Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors consume considerably less power than the new dual-core AMD CPUs. Unfortunately, AMD failed to catch up with Intel in terms of performance-per-watt. However, we have to give them due credit for the obvious tendency towards putting their processors power consumption levels within acceptable ranges. Although the new Phenom II X2 550 is based on an originally quad-core die, it consumes about 20W less than a last-generation dual-core Athlon X2 7850 processor.

However, we were much more impressed with the power consumption readings taken off the Athlon II X2 250 based platform. The claims of 65W thermal envelope are totally justified. It consumes only 10W more under heavy load than the same system with Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 inside. And it means that we can compare Athlon II X2 250 with Core 2 Duo E8000 series in terms of electrical parameters, which is a significant achievement for AMD.

Nevertheless, we can’t yet claim that AMD managed to create real energy-efficient dual-core solutions that would offer attractive combination of performance and power consumption. However, AMD haven't yet exhausted their possibilities here. They are going to announce more energy-efficient dual-core processors on Regor core very soon that will boast even lower TDP than the today’s freshly launched Athlon II X2 250. They promise it to be at only 45W!

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