AMD Releases a Trio of Phenom Chips

While mainly for gamers and PC enthusiasts, the release of these AMD Phenom processors shows the company is trying to get its chip schedule back on track.

Advanced Micro Devices released three new quad-core Phenom processors July 1 as the chip maker continues to try to rebound from a series of financial and product difficulties.

The new AMD Phenom processors include the Phenom X4 9950 (2.6GHz) "Black Edition" with overclocking abilities built in for gamers. In addition, the chip maker released two energy-efficient processors called the Phenom X4 9350e (2GHz) and the Phenom X4 9150e (1.8GHz), which each have thermal envelops of 65 watts and are geared for mainstream computers or business workstations.

The Phenom X4 9950 model has a 140-watt thermal envelope.

All of the new Phenom processors include a total of 2MB of Level 2 cache, and all four processing cores share 2MB Level 3 cache. The higher-end X4 9950 will sell for $235 per 1,000 units, while the Phenom 9350e sells for $195 and the 9150e for $175.

The release of these three Phenom processors comes as AMD looks to bounce back from some of the financial and technical difficulties that have plagued the company since the middle of 2007. AMD and Intel are expected to release their second-quarter financial results later in July, which should give a better picture of where AMD stands financially.

On the product side, the last few months have produced a steady stream of announcements from AMD that seem to indicate that the chip maker has returned to form after its failure to release its quad-core Opteron and Phenom chips on time at the end of 2007.

Since fixing the design problems in the silicon, AMD has released a number of quad-core Opterons for servers, and tri-core and quad-core Phenom chips for mainstream and high-end desktops since February. In addition, the company released a new desktop platform for corporate clients and its much anticipated "Puma" platform for notebooks.

The next stop for AMD is new 45-nanometer manufacturing in the second half of 2008. The company's newest chips, including the ones released July 1, are still built on 65-nm technology.

On the financial front, the picture remains cloudy as the company has seen a number of executives depart. There are also indications that AMD will spin off its consumer electronics division to save money, and the company has already announced that it would eliminate 10 percent of its work force as a part of an overall cost restructuring plan.

The fact that AMD keeps releasing new processors and now has a steady stream of vendors lined up with PCs and systems built with quad-core Opteron and Phenom chips-on July 1, Hewlett-Packard announced its xw4550 workstation that uses Opteron processors-is a sign that the company has stabilized its road map.

After the announcement, AMD is likely to keep a low profile when it comes to unveiling new products until after it releases its latest financial results, and analysts will be looking at how the company addresses its financial difficulties.