Quad-core CPU for $99 ... from AMD

Quad-core CPU for $99 ... from AMD

Summary: Don't for one moment think that the war between Intel ad AMD is over and that Intel has won ... with the launch of the Athlon II X4 620 we have now entered the era of affordable quad-core computing.

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Don't for one moment think that the war between Intel ad AMD is over and that Intel has won ... with the launch of the Athlon II X4 620 we have now entered the era of affordable quad-core computing.

Intel might have the Core i7 and Core i5 range out, which in terms of performance leaves AMD in their dust, but this latest piece of silicon from AMD is just as influential.

The Athlon II X4 620 is a 2.60GHz Socket AM3, 45nm part with a 95W TDP and which is quite closely related to the Phenom II X4. The biggest difference is that while the X4 620 has 512KB of L2 cache per core, there's no L3 cache. You can have a bargain price, or L3 cache ... there's no such thing as a free lunch!

What's really special about the 620 is price. For the first time buyers can get their hands on a quad-core CPU for under $100. You could pick up a CPU such as the aging Phenom X4 9650 for around $110 before, but compared to the X4 620 the 9650 is a dinosaur. Pair it with a AMD 785G-based motherboard (which has an integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU) and 2GB of DDR3 RAM and you have the foundation for a really sweet, and cheap, system.

Does this mean quad-core CPUs for everyone? Well, the price point is attractive enough, but you still need to shop wisely. For example, the dual-core  Athlon II X2 250 is a 3.0GHz part that's some $13 cheaper than the X4 620. If you spend most of your time in front of a word processor then the X2 250 is a better buy. However, if you start editing photos, encoding or transcoding video, or even spend a lot of time in Microsoft Excel, those four cores could make your life a lot easier.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel

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24 comments
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  • The Athlon II X2 comes with 1MB...

    L2 per core. It's too bad they didn't use 1MB per core for the X4.
    bjbrock
    • 2M divided by 4 is 512K

      Nope, it comes with 2MB of L2, divided by 4 cores gives us 512K per core.

      Adrian has it right.

      Brad
      BearBrad
      • Did you read his Post?

        He said "Too bad it doesn't come with 1MB per core like the Ath II X2"

        "shakes head in wonderment"

        BT
        bjterry62
  • Why?

    This is a poorly considered marketing ploy. Benchmarks would be nice to see, but they sure won't be great. Looks as though this chip doesn't support DDR3 and hypertransport is only 1800MHz as well as being restricted to a 64-bit data path--it's not dual channel. AMD should be doing fewer things better instead of producing a raft of intentionally crippled chips.

    For $169.99 (newegg) you can get a Phenom II 945 with 95w TDP and still get 6MB level 3 cache, clock speed 3.0GHZ as well as dual-channel DDR3 support and 4000MHz hypertransport. That little of difference pricewise? C'mon!

    This isn't for me. It's for the unsophisticated consumer of commodity computers. They'll get a 2 dimm slot motherboard with one slot open. The money savings is in the cheap motherboard design, memory as well as in the crippled chip [i]for the OEM[/i].

    Who are we kidding? This will help OEMs produce more substandard junk while plastering AMD's logo on the outside of the box. This is a bad move for AMD.

    djchandler
    • Your wrong

      This chip has dual channel DDR3 and 4GHz Hypertransport the only difference, as stated in the article is no L3 cache.

      http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/processors/athlon-ii-x2/Pages/AMD-athlon-ii-x2-processor-model-numbers-feature-comparison.aspx

      It's all there.
      shaunehunter
      • I stand corrected

        My source was cpu world. Perhaps they were making assumptions without an actual chip. Or it's FUD and I just helped them.

        <a href=http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/K10/AMD-Athlon%20II%20X4%20620%20-%20ADX620WFK42GI%20(ADX620WFGIBOX).html>This</a> is the link where I derived my information for good or ill. They're saying the integrated memory controller is DDR2 and 144 bits wide and there's only 1 16-bit hypertransport link.

        But that is the same integrated memory controller as the Phenom II, isn't it? AMD has been fooling me about their so-called DDR3 memory support. What a joke!

        I wondered why some AM3 motherboards only support DDR2. Now I know why. Would I be wasting my money buying a DDR3 motherboard and DDR3 ram with a Phenom II?

        I haven't bought a new Intel chip in years. That's about to change.
        djchandler
        • This Rig works great

          Hello there, my first post.

          Regarding DDR3 motherboards etc. I built this system in June and it has been going great ever since. I am very very happy that it works so well.

          I use it for CAD, CAM, FEA, video and still photography. No time for games unfortunately but will try them at Christmas time.

          SPECIFICATIONS.
          OS 1. Windows 7 64-bit
          OS 2. Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit

          Case & Power supply: Antec P193 + CP-850 PSU.
          Motherboard: ASUS M4A79T Deluxe
          Processor: AMD PHENOM II X4 955 BE (Box)
          Graphics card: ASUS HD4890 1GB DDR5
          Memory: 4GB. Corsair TW3X4G1600C9DHX
          Hard Disk Drive: Western digital RE3 WD5002ABYS
          Optical (dvd, cd blu-ray): LG GGC-H20L
          Floppy: Sony 1.4
          Monitor: Dell 22" Ultrasharp Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor (S142209WAAU)

          The memory is DDR3 and all 4GB is available (64-bit) Operating system required for full usage.

          Cheers,
          Jeff.
          JRM1
          • WT*?

            "Floppy: Sony 1.4"

            ...HA! New state-of-the-art system .. old millennium, "swiss cheese", flawed security thinking.

            You do know, a good boot-disk, password resetter is 'just dying' to make your floppy's acquaintance?? (Granted, that depends on "who" you surround yourself with and whether or not they can be trusted by you.)

            Take some sound advice: lose the FDD .. the only place it belongs is in a technology museum with the Amstrad and dot-matrix printers.

            ;*P
            thx-1138_
          • Bootdisks

            You do know that those same password resetters and even more tools can be put on a DVD, right?
            rpmyers1
          • Technically speaking, yes ...

            ...but you do know, that unlike your FDD, your optical disk drive needs to be a bootable disk AND a p/w hack simultaneously. Unless your CD/DVD can hook DOS in kernel-mode with the same root access as a floppy p/w re-setter, your suggestion is phooey.

            If you can show me the boot-disk password resetting app' *that doubles* as a bootable system disk (either CD or DVD) AND provide the link and the vendor (or rather cracker) that produces them, I'll retract what i've said .. scouts honor!

            I'm not holding my breath ;*P

            I mean, you said it so it *must* be true .. No? Provide us with proof when you make a claim, else don't say it at all.

            Look, the point is, that a floppy password re-setter requires *a lot less* user interaction in order to change a password at boot-time. I'm yet to hear of any bootable DVDs/CDs that ALSO have an inbuilt password re-setter. If what you're claiming is true, NO network on the planet is safe.

            I will reiterate: FDD drives will *always* be a weakness in computing systems as long as they're part of a systems, enabled h/w config' - purely and simply because their default hooks into the system root on MS Windows based systems. If you can't accept that, than you obviously need a primer on basic network / system security.

            Sincerely.
            thx-1138_
          • @ thx-1138

            [i]...but you do know, that unlike your FDD, your optical disk drive needs to be a bootable disk AND a p/w hack simultaneously. Unless your CD/DVD can hook DOS in kernel-mode with the same root access as a floppy p/w re-setter, your suggestion is phooey.[/i]

            I don't know what you're talking about with reference to "hook[ing] DOS in kernel-mode", because you don't need root access to reset a password. If you're not booted from the primary boot disk in the first place, permissions are out the window (this is with regard to Windows).

            All you need to know is where the registry is stored for whatever flavor of Windows you're modifying, and the password can be reset. Your initial boot device is irrelevant, so long as it isn't booting from the primary Windows partition.

            [i]If you can show me the boot-disk password resetting app' *that doubles* as a bootable system disk (either CD or DVD) AND provide the link and the vendor (or rather cracker) that produces them, I'll retract what i've said .. scouts honor!

            I'm not holding my breath ;*P

            I mean, you said it so it *must* be true .. No? Provide us with proof when you make a claim, else don't say it at all.[/i]

            Okay: http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/

            [i]Look, the point is, that a floppy password re-setter requires *a lot less* user interaction in order to change a password at boot-time. I'm yet to hear of any bootable DVDs/CDs that ALSO have an inbuilt password re-setter. If what you're claiming is true, NO network on the planet is safe.[/i]

            Refer to the aforementioned link. That's just one example. If you spent 4 seconds on Google, you'd find 20 more paid-for boot disks with password resetting/retrieving capabilities.

            [i]I will reiterate: FDD drives will *always* be a weakness in computing systems as long as they're part of a systems, enabled h/w config' - purely and simply because their default hooks into the system root on MS Windows based systems. If you can't accept that, than you obviously need a primer on basic network / system security.[/i]

            I think you need to go back to the primer yourself. Your statement here makes no sense whatsoever. Remove the FDD. Remove every single type of serial and port access to a Windows computer. If I am [i]physically[/i] present at the computer, I can reset your password(s) and gain access to the files. Having a floppy drive (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with it. The only way you'd keep me from getting/resetting the password and accessing the files is to encrypt the HDD itself.

            Actually, if you put a HDD password lock on the HDD it self as well, that would keep me out too, since I don't carry a soldering iron kit with me and spare ROMs for whatever brand of HDD you have in that computer.
            WarhavenSC
          • @WarhavenSC

            FDD, CD/DVD drives, *do have* access to the root of a hard-drive and the all important password cache. The difference is the manner in which interaction occurs. If via the GUI, winlogon.exe handles all logon sessions. If, as you correctly point out, a boot-disk of some form or another is used via either FDD or via an optical drive, root access (to the password cache) is by default. So, nothing in what i previously said was out of line - admittedly though, a little badly worded.

            "...I think you need to go back to the primer yourself. "

            No, actually i don't, but you could do with a reading comprehension class (or three). I said, *if* he could provide proof of concept, i'd re-tract - but that's now moot: since you've done it for him. Besides, i acknowledged the fact it was technically possible to do - i just haven't used a CD/DVD-version boot-disk password resetter - that's all you can get out of that point. Oh, and thanks for the link .. but i think i'll just stick to 'ethical' ways of logging into my system.

            "Your statement here makes no sense whatsoever. Remove the FDD. Remove every single type of serial and port access to a Windows computer."

            No, removing a FDD and closing access to vulnerable physical ports into a system is actually a basic, fundamental guideline for almost any "new millennium" networking environment. My whole point was *MITIGATION* - there's *no absolutism* in what i was pointing out. But, it's clear you prefer to nit-pick everything i say while trying to put words in my mouth.

            "If I am physically present at the computer, I can reset your password(s) and gain access to the files. Having a floppy drive (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with it. The only way you'd keep me from getting/resetting the password and accessing the files is to encrypt the HDD itself."

            Granted, yes, there is no real way of securing a computer in a situation where a cracker has 'physical access' to the actual box - barring locking it in a safe.

            So, thanks for pointing out the obvious (again). But by flaming me, you've just managed to take the subject "way off" into left field. So whoopee-dee, *@#$ing doo! So you know how to hack a Windows system to change a user's password? So do i .. and so what?!? But completely missing the point (again), you read into what i said as being: complete, absolute and as standing completely on its own and take me completely out of any context. On all counts that just makes you "a little" fastidious - not to mention wrong.

            So let's just step back and look at what *you're proposing*. We'll take a hypothetical situation: you're admin for a company with say, 500 employees and manage upward of 1000 networked PC's, printers, faxes, photocopiers, etc, etc. Would you try to *mitigate* the risks we've been discussing by removing FDD's and, for argument's sake, disabling local USB interfaces on all company workstations? OR would you you take your route && say "You know FIGJAM! I'm sooo good, i'm gonna leave FDD's, enable USB access to all staff and show them how i can hack their collective accounts to pieces using my knowledge of system account hacks. They'll all gush at how amazing they think I AM!!"

            Seriously though, nothing you've mentioned is anything i didn't already know - barring having first-hand experience of a CD/DVD, system p/wd reset disk: though (once again) i did acknowledge it was certainly, technically possible - and in fact made available by one vendor or another - and in one form or another, as you pointed out.

            My point (in general): remove FDD's (as just one example) - or for that matter, any other vulnerable points of entry into a network. Mitigating risks, to as high a degree as practicably possible, within a network - without adversely affecting functionality and operability of system services is a key point of systems administration philosophy. A primer on 'IS as a support role' might go a long way to getting that through your cranium.

            Your point (in general): is to NOT mitigate points of least resistance in a network environment, but instead just parade around demonstrating how good you (think you) are and publicly try to score some petty points over your kiddie-hacking skills.

            You obviously and completely read my entire post and made sweeping assumptions and presumptions about what i meant. All told, trying to insult my intelligence by rabbiting the obvious (over & over) doesn't gain you any credibility either.

            You know, i'm not going to entertain your slant on what i posted for another second. Save the primers for yourself ... and don't lecture someone who actually works closely with corporate clientele .. on 'real mitigations' - on a regular basis - in a wide variety of business contexts.

            Sinceremente
            thx-1138_
          • Amstrad!

            Wow, I haven't heard that in years! Go Amber!!!

            btw, why do motherboard manufacturers keep only 1 hdd controller and yet keep the fdd controller? Give me the two ide and dump the floppy support!
            stano360
          • Touchy, touchy

            Take a chill pill dude, you're wound way too tight.
            Why isn't the CD/DVD drive a vulnerability too? Or the network connection, get rid of that too? Hell, stay off the 'net, I heard you may get a virus from that. Anything that allows access to the system is a vulnerability. I have 4 free boot CD's downloaded from the 'net all of which have some sort of password resetting software on board. You could also put them on a key disk and boot from USB. Any physical access to a PC *COULD* result in data theft, or data loss. Like you said, depends on who you surround yourself with. So your advise is not so "sound" after all.
            Lovs2look
          • re: Jeff

            Nice. My rig is similar to yours:

            Case & Power Supply: Antec 900 + TPQ-850 PSU (Antec ftw!)
            Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
            Processor: AMD Phenom II x3 720 BE
            Graphics cards: Two ATI Radeon 4870 1GB (Crossfire)
            Memory: 8 GB Reaper DDR3 1600
            Monitor: Samsung 2253BW 22" Display

            And miscellaneous peripherals (HDD, DVD, etc.)
            WarhavenSC
          • Great to know it works too.

            Hi Warhaven,

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts too. Great your DDR memory works too as I cannot see why it should not work otherwise. It should provide many years of good service.

            Initially, my reply before was about djchandler's comments about AM3 boards and DDR3 memory not working. Hence the listing of my recent build. One should be careful to match the RAM with the motherboard manufacturer's specification. Common sense really.

            I don't know why he/she (THX-1138) is raving on about the humble floppy as it it was not the subject. I have many floppies with very old files and programs for science and engineering. I know what's on them, where they have been and so therefore, security is not an issue with them.

            When building a new system, it's always handy to have a floppy drive installed no matter how quaint some think it is. Diagnostics is sometimes easier with a floppy disk with drivers and boot information etc. etc.

            Security is always uppermost in my mind and has been for over 26 years' computer usage. This password re-setter problem is a non-issue in my particular case.

            Cheers,
            Jeff.

            PS. My first computer was a Commodore 64.
            Now that's last Millennium.
            JRM1
          • DDR3 with DDR2 memory controller on CPU

            The point I was making was the memory controller integrated on the CPU is DDR2. What I'm wondering is if DDR3 memory provides any performance enhancement on a Phenom II system when the memory controller is DDR2.

            Has there been any benchmarking of AM3 compatible DDR2 motherboards vs AM3 DDR3 motherboards that shows any advantage. It looks as though chipsets are interchangeable in this regard, i.e. motherboards with AMD 770, 780, 790 and 785 north bridges and either 700 , 710 or 750 south bridges can be configured with either DDR2 or DDR3 DIMM slots. My point being that DDR3 ram is more expensive. So why not just go with an AM2+ motherboard that can support an AM3 chip?
            djchandler
  • RE: Quad-core CPU for $99 ... from AMD

    Will this Athlon II x4
    1) run 64-bit? (the previous athlons were "64x2" so i am curious if the lack of "64" in the name means it won't)
    2) work on an AM2 socket? I know AM2+ and AM2 are compatible, not sure bout AM3 though.

    thanks!
    bc3tech
    • re: Compatability

      [i]Will this Athlon II x4
      1) run 64-bit? (the previous athlons were "64x2" so i am curious if the lack of "64" in the name means it won't)
      2) work on an AM2 socket? I know AM2+ and AM2 are compatible, not sure bout AM3 though.[/i]

      AM3 CPUs will work on AM2+ socket motherboards, providing the BIOS for the motherboard has been updated to support the AM3 CPU, however, due to the fewer pins on the AM3 socket, AM2/AM2+ CPUs are not forwards-compatible with AM3 motherboards.
      WarhavenSC
      • re: compatibility

        Thanks. How about AM3 on AM2? i assume by transitive property you're implying compatibility there, just want to be sure :)
        bc3tech