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AMD Reveals Next Gen of CPUs for the PC

Friday, August 14, 2009

AMD reveals next gen of CPUs for the PC
By Michael Lafferty

“As we increase compute power, we also open up new avenues of what people can do”

When it comes to computers, buying or building one, the system really begins with the motherboard of the CPU, or central processing unit. The CPU is the brains of the system, and processes all the functions from the simplest calculator additions to rendering out complex images.

A CPU that does not work well with your system, or that is overtaxed, will create heat issues as well as pull a lot of power. AMD has been on the forefront of creating CPUs that are efficient and cost effective.

The company recently invited GameZone for a teleconference to talk about the AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black CPU, billed as the fastest processor available for PCs at 3.4 GHz and with eight megabytes of cache.

“We are really focusing on our ‘Black’ Edition processors,” said AMD’s Brent Barry, “and the Dragon is one up on the competition because it’s the best bang for the buck that you can get out of the platform.”

And this is not just idle boasting. When compared to the Intel Core i7 920 and Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPUs, in four main areas that included photo processing, transcoding video, creating slideshows and gaming, the Phenom II X4 965 was rated higher in performance across the board. Not only that, but it retails $35 lower than the i7 and $75 lower than the Q9650 CPUs. Ranked up against other AMD Phenom products (like the 9950 and the Phenom II 955), the Phenom II 965 ranked higher in performance and was the second lowest in power consumption.

“Not only is it a great price with great performance, but there is massive headroom for overclocking,” Barry said.

But for AMD, the commitment to creating a great product does not end with the hardware. There is software to consider as well. “We just keep updating the software set that comes with the platform to try to get a better and better experience all the time.”

“The 965 is our fastest ever quad-core processor; in fact, as far as desktop processors go, this is the highest frequency quad-core processor on the market today,” he said.

The processor fits into the 140-watt profile that AMD has had on the market for a while. “We shoot for mainstream performance, really affordable performance,” Barry said. “We are aiming for the sweet spot in the market to make sure we can deliver as much value as possible without breaking the bank.”

When it comes to games, Barry said that they have found a lot of game developers focus on scalability. “They are making sure they can maximize the market they can reach, but still be able to provide those high-end marquee features.”

“The main point is yes, these are faster than our last generation by a lot and the power consumption, even though it is a spec 140-watt part, it uses a lot less energy.

“You want to make sure that your power supply is meeting the requirements of what your system could be drawing, but the real thing to think about is what is your system doing when it is idle, or you are just surfing the Web. These systems use almost negligible energy – nine watts of draw when you are in idle is pretty good.

The question was asked of when does it get to be too much? If a processor is developed that meets or exceeds the needs of users, why continually push the barriers back for better processors?

“There is always a demand for better performance – even if it is more than somebody needs,” Barry said. “The CPUs that we put out today, even this processor at the top end, I think somebody could safely buy it today and know they are going to have enough performance to do the things they will want to do for the next several years. It’s nice to be able to buy with that confidence.”

“As we increase compute power, we also open up new avenues of what people can do.”  

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