AMD will announce its second-generation Phenom quad-core chips at the big Consumer Electronics Show in January. But at the current rate at which the company is leaking information about its first 45nm desktop processors, there may not be much left to say by the time they get to Vegas.
A week ago, AMD released the server version of the new processor, code-named Shanghai, at speed ranging from 2.3- to 2.7GHz. At the time, AMD also announced it would release the Deneb desktop chips, now called Phenom II X4, as part of a new high-end platform called Dragon in January. Though they gave few details, it seemed logical that the Phenom II X4s would reach at least 2.7GHz.
Almost immediately word of a 3GHz Phenom II X4 began makings its way around the Web. The hardware site EXPreview.com went a step further reporting that AMD would release the 2.8GHz Phenom II X4 920 and 3.0GHz Phenom II X4 940 on January 8. The site even posted what appear to be performance numbers for the new Dragon platform provided by AMD. Then in an interview with a PC enthusiast site in Australia, an AMD manager confirmed that one of the first chips will run at 3GHz.
Finally, yesterday AMD hosted a reviewer's workshop where it demonstrated that the Phenom II X4 can be over-clocked to 4GHz with standard air cooling (some sites suggested it reached speeds above 6GHz but this required special cooling). Channel Web has a nice summary of accounts from the various hardware sites and comments from AMD.
Of course, Intel has been manufacturing chips at 45nm for some time, and recently released its new Core i7 desktop processor, which it is billing as the "fastest processor on the planet." The first chips include the 3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition ($999), 2.93GHz Core i7- 940 ($562) and 2.66GHz Core i7- 920 ($284). Initial reviews of Core i7-based PCs have been very good, and it will be very tough for AMD to make up all that ground in performance in a single leap. But it is starting to look like Phenom II X4 could make at least make things interesting again.