AMD Steps Up Athlon II Speeds, Not Prices


At the top of the line is the X4 640, a 3.0GHz, 95-watt quad-core CPU, which is expected to sell for around $122. The CRN Test Center received the X4 640 chip late last week and found its performance to be on par with the speed bump, though still slightly behind its Intel quad-core counterpart in GeekBench performance tests.

Also launched Tuesday were the quad-core X4 610e, a 45-watt version of the 640 that runs at 2.4 GHz and is priced at $143; two tri-core parts: the 95-watt 3.1 GHz X3 445 at $87 and its 45-watt cousin, the 2.5 GHz X3 415e at $102.

Also new are a pair of dual core parts, the 3.2 GHz X2 260 and 2.9 GHz X2 245e, which are priced at around $77.

All models are said to work with the company's recently released 800-series chipsets, and have been tested by AMD and the CRN Test Center on the AsusTek Crosshair IV Formula motherboard.

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Other compatible motherboards, according to AMD, include the Asus M4A89GTD-Pro, Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H and MSI's 890FXA-GD70 and 890GX-GD65 models.

AMD said the new parts also work with its 785GX chipset, which is found on the Asus M4A785TD-M EVO, Gigabyte GA-MA785PGMT-UD2H and MSI 785GM-E65 motherboards.

All the new processors are compatible with the AM3 and AM2+ 938-pin socket. The company also announced price cuts on some its other parts, including the Athlon II X4 635, which now becomes AMD's sub-$100 quad-core

The Test Center received only the X4 640 for testing, so we could not compare its performance with that of its predecessor, the X4 635. Nor could we measure power consumption of the low-power "e" series parts.

Therefore, we compared the 640's GeekBench performance with that of an Intel Xeon X3460 at 2.8 GHz, which powered an HP Z200 Workstation we tested recently.

Both systems were running 64-bit Windows 7 with 4 GB of DDR3 memory. The AMD-equipped system turned in a top GeekBench score of 6225 while consuming an average of 154 watts and peaking at 186 watts during benchmark execution. The Z200 with its $350 Xeon delivered a GeekBench of 7640 while peaking at 123 watts. Like the 640, the Xeon Intel is rated at 95 watts TDP (thermal design power). Spot temperatures on the processor and motherboard never exceeded 86 degrees.

The 45-nm X4 640 contains 64K of L1 instruction cache per core and another 64K for data. L2 cache is 512K per core, 2MB total. It's equipped with a 128-bit memory controller that can handle DDR2 and DDR3 memory at frequencies up to 2.0 GHz. AMD's HyperTransport 3.0 spec is on board, jockeying inter-processor communications at 4.0 GHz (2.0 GHz in each direction) via one 16x16-bit link.