Benchmarks: AMD's Phenom II

Summary:AMD's Phenom II processor is designed to boost the company's presence in the desktop market. But how does it fare against Intel's latest Core i7 (Nehalem) chip?

Intel has been manufacturing desktop processors using the 45-nanometre (nm) feature size since November 2007, but it wasn't until over a year later that rival AMD began to distribute chips manufactured using this process — currently the most advanced in mainstream processor production. Shanghai processors for the server market have been produced at AMD's Dresden factory since November 2008. AMD was delayed because of problems with 45nm manufacturing and Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) technology. These difficulties have now been solved and the desktop variant, Phenom II, is ready for market.

With the move to 45nm, AMD can now clock the Phenom II processors at significantly higher speeds than their 65nm predecessors. At 3GHz, the Phenom II X4 940 is the fastest variant (its Phenom equivalent ran at 2.6GHz). Despite higher clock speeds and an increase in transistor count to 758 million (from 463 million) by doubling the Level 3 cache, the new CPU's power consumption remains unchanged at 125W.

The Phenom II is pin-compatible with its predecessors, so all that's needed to upgrade to Phenom II is a simple BIOS update of an AM2+ socket motherboard. Most of the larger motherboard makers — including Asus, Gigabyte and MSI — published compatibility lists in December. Along with the Phenom II X4 940, a 2.8GHz 920 model is also available. You can order these new quad-core chips online now: the Phenom II X4 940 costs €260, while the 920 is about €20 less.


Topics: Hardware, Reviews

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