AMD's latest quad-core Phenom CPU ups its game

Intel may still be fastest, but AMD one-ups on price-performance with Phenom II 965

Intel Corp. may still hold bragging rights for having the fastest desktop processors on the market, but Advanced Micro Devices Inc. believes its newest chips' value for money will prove more popular in these tough economic times.

AMD, which holds the No. 2 position among chipmakers, launched its latest quad-core Phenom II X4 Black Edition CPU, the 965, on Thursday.

The 965 is rated at 3.4 GHz, up from its prior fastest, the 3.2GHz 955.

By clock speed, that gives the 965 the edge against Intel's fastest quad-core desktop CPU today, the Core i7 975 Extreme Edition, which operates at 3.33GHz.

But seasoned buyers have long realized that comparing the clock speed of two CPUs with different architectures means little. AMD even blew up that myth earlier this decade when it marketed its lower-clocked Athlon and Sempron CPUs as offering the same performance as its ostensibly-faster Pentium 4 counterparts.

Intel's Core i7 975 scores 8,290 on PassMark Software's eponymous benchmark, crushing the Phenom II 955's 3,565 score.

Similarly, the overclocking world record, according to Ripping.org, is held by an 3.0 GHz Intel CPU revved up to 8.22GHz.

AMD's overclocking record is a Phenom II X4 955 running at 7GHz.

Hard times hit hard-core too?

But even hard-core gamers and performance addicts have budgets in this economy.

The Phenom II 965 will cost $US245, pushing its now-second fastest chip, the 955, to $US199, said AMD's desktop platform marketing manager, Adam Kozak.

By comparison, Intel's fastest, the i7 975, costs $US999 at NewEgg.com as of mid-August -- four times that of AMD's new 965.

Performance-wise, Kozak compares the new Phenom II with Intel's Core i7 920 and Quad Q9650.

Those two CPUs cost $US279 and $US319, respectively, at NewEgg.com, making them 15 per cent and 30 per cent more expensive than AMD's Phenom II 965.

Kozak said winning on the price-performance ratio is better than just performance alone. "As our CEO Dirk Meyer says, 90 per cent of users are mainstream," he said.

Game on

AMD timed its announcement with the start of QuakeCon, an annual convention that draws thousands of gamers, AMD's hoped-for audience with the Phenom II 965.

AMD's 965 is built with a 45-nanometer process. Intel uses 45nm with its fastest chips, but it will release CPUs early next year on the more-miniaturized 32nm process, which theoretically lets chips run faster and cooler.

AMD is not likely to move to 32nm until 2011, a spokesman acknowledged.

On the other hand, AMD has already started to sell graphics chips built at 40nm scale, which when paired with Phenom II chips, form the company's unified Dragon platform.

Those GPUs will support Microsoft Corp.'s DirectX 11 graphics technology by year's end.

Six-core chips loom

And six-core Phenom IIs may be around the corner. AMD introduced a six-core Opteron server CPU, the Istanbul, in April.

AMD has typically brought server technologies to desktop PCs 6 to 8 months later.

AMD would not say whether to expect a six-core Phenom II launch announcement by the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but the spokesman said, "You can certainly infer what you will."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AMDPhenom II

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?