AMD's 45nm quad-core Phenom II processors get an official unveiling.
The Phenom II comes in two flavors:
X4 920 - 2.8GHz - $235
X4 940 - 3.0GHz - $275
The price and performance of these pieces puts them roughly in the middle ground between Intel's Core 2 Duo and the Core i7 - around the Q9400 mark. Certainly these new processors beat the original X4's hands down, and give Intel's mid-range Core 2 Duo's a run for their money. However, despite having a clock speed of 3.0GHz, don't be fooled into thinking that these CPUs come close of the Core i7 - they don't.
Along with being based on 45nm architecture, the Phenom II processors also have 6MB of L3 cache, and have a DDR2 and DDR3 compatible integrated memory controller (although this first batch only support DDR2).
These processors sound promising, and certainly have a fair amount of overhead when it comes to overclocking, but ultimately the initialreviews are somewhat understated. The main advantage of the Phenom II seems to be that you can drop them into any 125W TDP Phenom compatible motherboard, whereas Intel's i7 means a whole new platform. My guess is that over the next 12 months AMD will release more Phenom II parts with faster clock speeds.
The Dragon platform is basically a combination of a Phenom II processor, a 7-series chipset motherboard and a Radeon 4000 series GPU. These parts actually come together quite well to create a well-rounded, balanced platform that doesn't feel CPU top-heavy like most Core i7 systems do. So while the Phenom II X4 processors might not appeal to those looking for the maximum performance, the platform as a whole will appeal to those looking for a balanced machine.