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AMD Phenom and Spider Preview

Author:  Jason Jacobs
Date:  2007.11.19
Topic:  Other
Provider:  AMD
Manufacturer:  AMD

AMD Phenom Preview


World's First True Quad Core Desktop Processor:

While im certain that Intel might disagree most people can agree that AMD has been a huge innovator with regards to designing processors with the future in mind. AMD introduced 64 bit desktop processors to the world first, their dual core X2 was a true dual core processor, and they look to become the first manufacturer to design a processor with embedded on-die GPU. What AMD means by world's first true quad core desktop processor is that the phenom has been designed to take advantage of a crossbar switch which allows all four of the cores, memory controller, and separate I/O interface to communicate.

The AMD Phenom is posed to take advantage of the increasing demand for quad core processors by consumers, but its release comes at nearly the same time as the release of the Penryn by Intel which boasts some impressive performance numbers. Only time will tell if the Phenom can carve out a consumer base and a high demand for processors. Phenom will be released with support for three different sockets with overlapping compatibility downward.

The Phenom desktop processor line is based upon the K10 microarchitecture and is expected to launch its 45nm processor lineup in early 2009 code named Deneb.

Platform Characteristics AM2 AM2+ AM3
Hyper Transport
HT 1.0 and HT 2.0
HT 3.0
HT 3.0
DDR2 400 - 800
DDR2 400 - 1066
DDR3 1333
Processor Power Planes
Thermal Monitor
Thermal Sense Interface (TSI)
Flash Bios
4 M-bit
May need 8 M-bit
May need 8 M-bit
Max Power Delivery
95A Core and Northbridge
110A Core/ 20A Northbridge
110A Core/ 20A Northbridge

What we see here is that AMD has plans to take consumers to DDR3 with the release of Socket AM3 motherboards. Additionally AM2+ brings dual power planes and eventual support for DDR2 1066 pending JEDEC approval and release of the specifications for 1066. AM2+ and AM3 share support for HT 3.0 as well as power planes but AM3 uses a new thermal monitor called the TSI or Thermal Sense Interface that will likely lead to advances in power management and more accurate temperature readings.

AMD is investing in Hyper Transport for a longer term with this release as we can see their support extending at least until AM3. The "Achilles Heel" of Intel has always been its reliance on the Front Side Bus (FSB). The now aging FSB design in not able to carry nearly the amount of information nor as quickly as the Hyper Transport design and HT 3.0 increases this lead significantly:

AMD Phenom processors transfer at 3.6 GHz

AMD Phenom processors are backwards-compatible

AMD is using a new "Stars Core" design for which the highlights include the following five points:

  1. First True Quad-Core Processor
  2. Integrated DDR2 Dual Channel Memory Controller
  3. Cool 'n' Quiet 2.0 technology
  4. Hyper Transport 3.0
  5. Shared L3 Cache

Some of these features are not unique to the Phenom and others are only available in the AM2+ or AM3 platforms.

Lets take a look at the new Phenom.


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