AMD launches Phenom and Spider

Written by Phil Cogar

November 19, 2007 | 13:06

Tags: #cpu #launch #phenom #platform #processor #spider

Companies: #amd

Just one week after Intel launched its first Penryn offering, AMD is launching its line of Phenom processors. AMD touts the Phenom as being the "first true quad-core processor supporting scalable graphics for The Ultimate Visual Experience" and has unveiled that the processor is part of a new platform called "Spider."

The new Spider platform consists of AMD Phenom quad-core processors, ATI Radeon HD 3800 Series GPUs, and AMD 7-Series chipsets that offer future scalability.

AMD is the only company committed to delivering The Ultimate Visual Experience across all the screens of your life,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and COO. “The AMD Spider platform embodies our approach to platform-level innovation and delivers a highly-advanced, feature-rich enthusiast computing experience."

"Our commitment to energy-efficient design and manufacturing excellence drives an unprecedented performance-per-watt at an amazing price point, putting enthusiast-class platforms in reach for more users than ever before.”

Currently, the Phenom is available in two flavours with more coming soon. The two parts that you can pick up now are the Phenom 9500, which clocks at 2.2GHz and retails for $251, and the Phenom 9600, which is clocked at 2.3GHz and retails for $283. The Phenom 9700 and Phenom 9900 will be made available in the first quarter of 2008 and clock in at 2.4GHz and 2.6GHz respectively. The Phenom 8000 series triple core processors will also arrive early next year and AMD will still keep the Athlon nomenclature for its dual and even single core CPUs, by rebranding them 6000 and 1000 series respectively.

Will the Phenom have enough gusto to knock Intel from the top spot? As soon as AMD send bit-tech a CPU we'll be able to tell you, but considering the underlying execution core is just a wider K8 we aren't holding our breath. What there is though is competition that's necessary for the market, for that AMD can't churn out enough of these CPUs fast enough.

In addition, there's currently an errata in the 2.4GHz+ parts B1 and B2 stepping with the L3 TLB (translation lookup buffer) that requires a BIOS fix which should now be available for the latest 7-series chipsets. However this fix also kills performance "about 10 percent" according to AMD and it will be up to the user to enable or disable the BIOS fix, depending on the amount of work they're doing on the system.

The rest of the spider platform - the 7-series of chipsets consists of the AMD 790FX which is the leading enthusiast chipset with support for CrossFireX and includes 42 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes - 32 for graphics cards, six for other uses and four to connect the northbridge to southbridge. Although, those interbridge four will be restricted to Gen-1.0 bandwidth considering the 790FX is still paired with the old SB600 southbridge, but come early to mid 2008 we should finally see this updated for SB700. The SB600 does however get a new lease of life from new software called, RAIDXpert - an in-OS GUI RAID management software. AMD also now has AMD Overdrive for BIOS and OS-level overclocking and system tweaking in general.

Next on the list is the AMD 790X which is more mainstream while still retaining the enthusiast element: with support for dual card CrossFire and the same software control features of the 790FX. To round things off is finally the AMD 770 will be for entry level but will still offer the basic essential HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI-Express 2.0 features.

The AMD 690G will be updated to the 780G next February and is slated to be the first integrated graphics chipset (IGP) with DirectX 10 and UVD, and finally the 780M will be the notebook part for the middle of next year. We discussed the 780M in our Puma and Griffin article a few months back, but it looks like AMD has yet again fallen behind where "early next year" has dropped off to "mid next year" instead.

Most of our readers will likely be going for the AMD 790X rather than the FX, simply because we don't expect many to use CrossFireX, which means the inevitable four PCI-Express x16 lanes on a 790FX motherboard will essentially become a waste of space. This is depending on the features retained for 790X boards by manufacturers, so check around before you buy.

So, does the Spider platform appeal to you? Are you desperate for a native quad-core Phenom? Has AMD got all its soldiers in a row or is it still a few sandwiches short of a picnic? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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