AMD Introduces Phenom II, Athlon II Dual-Core Processors

To its Athlon and Phenom processor lines AMD has added the Athlon II X2, its fastest Athlon processor, and the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition, its fastest dual-core yet. Both focus on energy and pricing and offer benefits with Microsoft Windows 7, which AMD suggests puts it a step ahead of competitor Intel.

As the Computex 2009 show kicked off in Taipei, Advanced Micro Devices announced it is expanding its Athlon and Phenom processor lines with the introduction of the Athlon II X2 250 and Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition dual-core processors.
Built on 45-nanometer technology, Athlon II X2 is AMD's fastest Athlon processor yet, with a core speed of 3.0GHz and a 65-watt thermal envelope. An AM3 package enables it to support DDR2 (double data rate 2) as well as DDR3 memory.
Recommended pricing for the Athlon II X2 will be $87, and AMD expects this to be "the bulk of its infantry," very much appealing to the mainstream.
"Consumers are really trying to get the best deals possible right now, make smarter decisions, and one of the things on the top of their minds right now is value," Brent Barry, an AMD brand manager, told eWEEK.
"Not everyone has their use case suited for triple- or quad-core processors. For a lot of people, dual-core can get it done, and especially with the Athlon II we're introducing, it's going to give an incredible boost of performance and efficiency to that price point with dual-core products."
The 3.1GHz Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition, conversely, is for the enthusiast wanting high-end performance but still value. It has an HT Link of 2.0GHz, a 7MB cache and an AM3 package that's also memory compatible with DDR2 and DDR3.
The Phenom II X2 is priced at $103. "It's our fastest ever dual-core processor," said Barry. "If you look at how we position our X4, we say, -It's the power to do it all.' This really is making that power more affordable."
Both processors are Energy Star-compliant with PowerNow 3.0 technology, which includes Cool'n'Quiet 3.0 technology. With PowerNow, the system adjusts its energy use to the tasks at hand, enabling the Athlon II, for example, to run at 65 watts during a demanding application, and down to 3.5 watts at its lowest idle state.
Barry said AMD is particularly excited about the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows 7, explaining that all the Athlon and Phenom processors have a virtualization technology that Windows 7 will highlight.
"Windows 7 has something called Windows XP Mode, and basically this virtualization technology enables you to create a virtualized PC inside of another PC. So in order to maintain compatibility with really old hardware or old applications, or things that wouldn't run on Windows or Vista 7 ... this gives you the ability [to run Windows 7, virtualized]."
This capability, along with the AMD processors' backward compatibility, enables AMD to offer businesses and consumers the flexibility, said Barry, to upgrade only when the time is right for them. He also offered it as an example of how AMD differentiates itself from rival Intel.
"It's hard to know if your Intel CPU is going to be compatible with virtualization, whereas you can buy with confidence, knowing an AMD processor is going to provide that backward compatibility," he explained.
Intel has said it offers XP Mode in products targeted toward business customers, and that it works closely with Microsoft to ensure compatibility. For example, Intel says it has already shared information with Microsoft about "Sandy Bridge," the architecture that will replace Nehalem in 2010.