AMD Athlon II X3 435/Athlon II X2 240e Performance Preview
AMD’s on a mission. Their goal? To become profitable by the end of the year.
To achieve this goal, they’re racing to phase out their existing lineup of 65-nm Athlon and Phenom CPUs. With their larger die, these sub-$100 chips need to go: they’re bigger, hotter, and aren’t as profitable for AMD to manufacture as their latest 45-nm Athlon II CPUs are. The problem is AMD’s got a ton of them out there, and thanks to the economic slowdown, businesses and consumers aren’t upgrading like they used to, which has made the 45-nm transition drag on far longer than AMD originally planned.
Fortunately there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Inventories are finally drawing down and demand is beginning to improve. With the arrival of Q4 and the holiday shopping season, as well as the release of Windows 7, OEMs are hoping things will begin to pick up.
Like the rest of the industry, AMD is counting on this too. Their graphics unit just unleashed the world’s first DirectX 11 cards from the mainstream and high-end markets, and today AMD is introducing a slew of new Athlon II parts. All together, 8 Athlon II CPUs are being launched today.
For the HTPC crowd who wants their performance in a small, efficient package, AMD’s debuting new 45W dual-core and quad-core parts, while the user who wants price/performance will appreciate AMD’s new triple-core Athlon II CPUs. This marks the first time AMD’s brought triple-core computing to the Athlon II family. The following chart outlines the new CPUs being launched today:
|AMD's Newest Athlon IIs|
|Athlon II X4 605e||2.3GHz||45W||$143|
|Athlon II X4 600e||2.2GHz||45W||$133|
|Athlon II X3 435||2.9GHz||95W||$87|
|Athlon II X3 425||2.7GHz||95W||$76|
|Athlon II X3 405e||2.3GHz||45W||$102|
|Athlon II X3 400e||2.2GHz||45W||$97|
|Athlon II X2 240e||2.8GHz||45W||$77|
|Athlon II X2 235e||2.7GHz||45W||$69|
As you can see, AMD’s offering two new 45W quad-core processors, the 2.3GHz Athlon II X4 605e, and the 2.2GHz Athlon II X4 600e. Priced at $143 and $133 respectively, these new processors definitely come with a price premium – AMD’s 2.8GHz Athlon II X4 630 sells for just $122 – but they’re still considerably cheaper than Intel’s equivalent parts, the Core 2 Quad Q8200S and Q8400S, which sell for well over $200 and with a 65W TDP rating (the Q8200S also lacks support for virtualization).
The new Athlon II X3 CPUs are based on AMD’s “Propus” core launched last month
. This is a purpose-built 45-nm core that’s had its L3 cache removed in order to make it cheaper for AMD to produce. Die size is just 169 mm2 compared to Deneb’s 258 mm2. (To provide a little more perspective, AMD’s old Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition, which was based on the “Kuma” K10 core and launched in April of this year at $69, featured a much larger 285mm2 die.) Like Deneb, Propus features 512KB of L2 cache per core, with the 3-core Athlon II X3 chip offering 1.5MB of L2 total. AMD’s codename for this crippled Propus core is “Rana”.
AMD merely disables one of Propus’ four cores for the Rana core inside Athlon II X3, and while many motherboards support core unlocking, we haven’t had any luck getting this feature to work with any CPU we have here in our labs, so it’s by no means guaranteed.
Finally, in addition to the new triple and quad-core Propus parts, AMD’s introducing two new 45W dual-core Athlon II CPUs, the 2.8GHz Athlon II X2 240e and the 2.7GHz Athlon II X2 235e. With the debut of these chips, AMD now has a low-power option for dual-core users.
We managed to secure samples of two of the eight new CPUs AMD is launching today, the Athlon II X3 435, and the 45W Athlon II X2 240e. We’re pairing them against Intel’s Pentium E6300, as well as AMD’s quad-core Athlon II X4 620 and AMD’s fastest dual-core CPU, the 3.1GHz Phenom II X2 550. Will the Phenom II’s superior clock speed and cache configuration win out? How well do the new CPU’s overclock? Let’s find out shall we?