With Intelís Core i7 line of CPUs completely owning the high-end performance CPU space, AMDís chosen instead to focus on delivering compelling value with their latest processors. More specifically, AMDís strategy has been to give consumers more processing cores per dollar than the competition.
Take the $100 price point for instance. Here AMD offers two quad-core Athlon II CPUs, the Athlon II X4 620 and the X4 630. Right now Newegg offers the 620 for $98, and the 630 for $99, both with free shipping.
In comparison Intelís cheapest quad-core part is the Core 2 Quad Q8400. This is a CPU thatís 1-year old and is based on an outdated LGA-775 platform thatís been replaced, and sells for $163.
At that same price point AMD offers the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition. The 955 BE is a 3.2GHz CPU with four cores, 6MB of L3 cache, and will run circles around the Q8400.
Now AMD is taking this same strategy of offering more cores for less and applying it to higher-end six-core computing. Launching today are two 6-core CPUs, the Phenom II X6 1090T, which runs at 3.2GHz and sells for $285, and the Phenom II X6 1055T. The 1055T runs at 2.8GHz and sells for $199. These chips are based on AMDís new ďThubanĒ core.
One aspect youíll obviously note about the new six-core AMD CPUs are their lower clock speeds -- AMDís Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition runs at 3.4GHz -- with six cores built-in, AMD had to turn down the clocks a little to maintain power consumption thatís comparable to the quad-core 965 chip.
This is actually quite an accomplishment on AMDís part, as the new X6 chips are built using the same 45-nm manufacturing process as the X4s. When Intel transitioned from four to six cores with the 980X, they had the benefit of utilizing their smaller 32-nm process. AMD is sampling 32-nm CPUs to some of their customers now, but wonít be in full production until the end of this year, with the first 32-nm CPUs coming out early next year.
AMD has tweaked their 45-nm for Thuban, adding low-k dielectric material to the metal layers of the CPU to help reduce leakage. As a result, both six-core Thuban processors fit within the same 125W TDP as AMDís latest quad-core Phenom II CPUs.
To help overcome Thubanís clock speed deficit, AMD has added one new feature to the CPU to boost its performance in cases where its extra cores arenít being taxed: Turbo Core.
With Turbo Core, Thuban processors can automatically underclock CPU cores that arenít being taxed down to speeds as low as 800MHz, the active cores that are being used can then be bumped up to speeds as high as 500MHz over default.
Thatís the grossly oversimplified answer for how Turbo Core operates in theory. In practice though, it is much more complicated than this. Letís discuss this feature in more detailÖ