By no means is a Phenom-based Athlon X2 a revolutionary leap forward for AMD, since the release of a new generation of Athlon X2 processors following Intel’s numbering scheme was really a long time in coming as the company adapted its newer, more advanced technology for the job. In that way, the new product is by no means really new, but it is based on a proven design—more precisely the Phenom’s 65 nm Agena core. However, AMD decided not to call the new product Phenom X2 (most likely to keep a distance between the Athlon family and the Phenom product line, which offers superior performance).
Athlon X2 7000-Series: Made Better By Phenom
Thanks to the advantages of the 65 nm Phenom design, the Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition is faster per clock than its predecessor, the Athlon 64 X2. The processors come with the latest dual-channel DDR2-1066 memory controller, 2 x 512 KB L2 cache and a shared L3 cache. They also introduce the SSE 4.1 instruction set of the Phenom into the Athlon world. And the processors can be dropped into existing socket AM2/AM2+ systems as soon as a suitable BIOS update is available.
A Small Power Advantage
We found that there are some changes in power consumption as well. While the system idle power is slightly higher on the new Ahtlon X2 7000 series (a few Watts increase), the peak power actually decreased by 10-20 W. If we relate these power savings to the performance we saw, the Athlon X2 7750 BE has to be compared with the Athlon 64 X2 5400+, which it beats in most of the benchmarks except gaming.
Improved Performance Per Clock, But No Performance Improvement
Despite its more efficient architecture, the Athlon X2 7000 cannot make up for the clock speed difference separating it from some of the previous-generation Athlon X2s (500 MHz, in the case of the Athlon 64 X2 6400+), although there are some benchmarks in which the new 7000-series performs better: DivX 6.8.3, Mainconcept 1.5.1, and Adobe Premiere Pro CS3. In the synthetic benchmarks as well as the gaming benchmarks, it does lose out to the 6400+. If you’re looking for higher performance, you’ll have to go for faster clock speeds, more cores, or a Core 2-based configuration
For Upgrade Users, Only
Not everyone wants or can afford to buy a new system every few years, and luckily, the Athlon X2 7000-series provides an excellent option to upgrade existing socket AM2 powered systems. We have to qualify the statement made earlier about the new Athlons being suitable for folks looking to upgrade. More accurately, this one’s a play exclusively for the folks looking to stretch their existing systems out until the next generation platforms hit the market by the middle of 2009, hopefully with integrated USB 3.0.