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Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday officially unveiled its highly-anticipated AMD Phenom II central processing unit along with the code-named Dragon platform for gamers. The company hopes that the new and faster second-generation Phenom chips will return the company’s microprocessors inside gamers’ and entertainment enthusiasts’ personal computers.

The heart of AMD Dragon platform is AMD Phenom II X4 processor previously code-named Deneb that provides substantial performance uplift compared to previous-generation chip thanks to larger 6MB level-three cache, some improvements of micro-architecture, clock-speed increase thanks to 45nm process technology as well as future support for DDR3 memory (AM3 chips in AM3 platforms only). Overall, AMD expects about 20% real-world performance increase of the new central processing units (CPUs) compare to predecessors.

Initially AMD Phenom II X4 processors will be drop-in compatible with AM2+ infrastructure that supports processors with 125W thermal design power (TDP), but eventually AMD will introduce AM3 versions of the chips with built-in dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, which will still be compatible with DDR2.

While the new processors are indeed faster than predecessors, AMD stresses that the power of the Dragon can be unleashed only on all-AMD platform that consists of AMD Phenom II, AMD 7-series core-logic and ATI Radeon HD 4800-series graphics card. For example, certain video encoding tasks can be processed on a graphics processor much faster compared to regular CPU. Meanwhile, AMD’s own core-logic sets enable higher overclocking potential compared to third-party solutions.

“With Dragon platform technology, AMD is changing the desktop industry landscape by offering affordable performance and maximum headroom for gaming, video editing, and other media-intensive tasks. Through our Fusion platform approach, AMD is able to deliver CPUs, GPUs and chipsets that work better together to meet the industry’s evolving needs today and well into the future,” said Leslie Sobon, vice president of product marketing at AMD.

Big PC manufacturers, such as Alienware, Dell and HP, plan to offer Dragon platform technology-based desktop systems in the first quarter of 2009, with Dell offering immediate availability in its Dell XPS desktop line.

AMD Phenom II X4 processors will be available from AMD channel e-tailers at launch at the following manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRPs):

  • AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition (3.0GHz, unlocked multiplier) – $275;
  • AMD Phenom II X4 920 (2.8GHz) – $235.

Along with the new processors, AMD brings new CPU naming scheme that is completely different compared to the one that the company uses today. The new model numbering scheme seems to be a little bit easier for understanding, but it will inevitably cause some confusion on the market.

Tags: AMD, Phenom, Deneb, 45nm

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