updated 08:20 am EDT, Thu March 27, 2008
AMD Phenom X3 and More
AMD on Thursday gave a boost to its Phenom processors by debuting a unique balance between budget and high-performance chips. The Phenom X3 8000 series is the first x86-based chip line to use three cores: by using quad-core Phenom X4 chips with one core disabled, the company drops the price while still providing better performance than a native dual-core design. The X3 can improve performance with single apps but scales much more rapidly for multiple apps, especially media-intensive ones, AMD says.
The initial lineup includes both 2.1GHz (X3 8400) and 2.3GHz (X3 8600) models and should be available very soon from both large-scale PC builders such as Dell as well as smaller, white box manufacturers. AMD hasn't yet published its official pricing.
In addition to the new budget processor, AMD has also pushed its Phenom X4 quad-core processors to two extremes. The Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition is now the chipmaker's new mainstream flagship and is meant for gamers determined to eke out extra performance: while already clocked the highest at 2.5GHz, the Black label de-restricts the clock multiplier to allow experienced users to overclock the processor with enough cooling. The 9850 will be available on April 7th for $235 each in large batches and will be accompanied by the 2.2GHz 9550, 2.3GHz 9650, and 2.4GHz 9750 on the same day.
At the other extreme, the Phenom X4 9100e is billed as the most efficient desktop quad-core processor and consumes just 65 watts of peak power; it not only saves money for cost-conscious users but also reduces heat and cuts back on the need for noisier cooling. AMD doesn't currently list the clock speed or price for the 9100e, but explains that it should also be available soon.