AMD’s New Phenom II Cuts Energy in Half

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New tri-core and quad-core chips from AMD cut the Phenom II processor energy bill in half – and they will spread from consumers to the enterprise later this year.

Advanced Micro Devices has launched five new Phenom II processors for high-end desktops, including a set of tri-core and quad-core chips that AMD claims will cut power use in half – and which will be positioned against the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 and the Core 2 Quad Q8200.

The new high-performance chips, which include the X3 710 and 720, and the X4 805. 810 and 920, are designed for gaming and high-end business use, and designed for energy efficiency so they can be overclocked without overheating, said Bob Grim, a senior marketing manager at AMD.  

The Phenom uses 50 percent less power than previous versions, said Bob Grim: “We’re seeing a transition in the marketplace to sleekness and energy efficiency,” he said. “Smaller is becoming more important; energy efficiency is more important. Over time we’ll be developing more energy-efficient parts that can fit into sleeker [systems].”

The enterprise will use these processors, but not immediately, said Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research: “In this market, [the enterprise] doesn’t get the rapid adoption you see in the consumer side. What I would expect to see happen is corporate clients looking at this technology as the next major refresh opportunity. The next refresh happens right around April, so we’ll probably see it show up in June or July.”

The Phenom II represents “a significant improvement in the level of AMD’s competitiveness, and anything that improves their position is a good thing,” McCarron said.

The products, announced on the 9th February, come at a time when AMD has been battling other chip makers, in particular Intel and Nvidia, for market share in the face of declining shipments industrywide. On the 21st January, AMD confirmed that the prices of some of the new Phenom II processors would be cut by 18 percent.

Over time, the energy abilities of the chips should tell, said Grim: “We expect Phenom II to be in the market for awhile. If you’ve seen the frequencies that we’ve seen, we can overclock at over 6[GHz]—this shows we have a lot of headroom, so we can scale significantly over time.”

The new chips join the Phenom II X4 940 and X4 920 processors, launched at January’s CES event, as part of the “Dragon” platform, which also includes ATI Radeon graphics. The X4 940 has a clock speed of 3GHz, while the X4 920 has a speed of 2.8GHz.

The new chips, invclude the X3 710 (2.6GHz) and the X3 720 “Black Edition Processor” (2.8GHz) to the X4 805 (2.5GHz), X4 810 (2.6GHz) and the X4 910 (2.5GHz). Prices include $145 (£99) for the X3 720 and $175 (£120) for the X4 810 processor, both of which are being boxed and sold as components.

The chips support older DDR2 memory as well as the newer DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory.