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AMD Hardware

AMD Shows Upcoming Phenom II CPU At 6.0 GHz+ 159

Posted by timothy
from the calm-down-there-cowpoke dept.
Vigile writes "Today during a press briefing at AMD's offices in Austin, TX the company showed off some upcoming technology that should be available sometime early in 2009. What was most impressive was the overclocked speeds of the pending Phenom II X4 45nm processors. On air cooling AMD showed the quad-core CPU running at nearly 4.0 GHz while with much more extreme liquid nitrogen cooling help the same CPU reached over 6.0 GHz! It looks like AMD's newest processor might finally once again compete with the best from Intel, including its recent Core i7 CPUs."
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AMD Shows Upcoming Phenom II CPU At 6.0 GHz+

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  • first question.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hillview (1113491) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:52PM (#25836371)
    what's the power rating for this thing at 4 ghz? 250 watts?
  • Overclocking BS (Score:3, Informative)

    by MLopat (848735) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:53PM (#25836377) Homepage
    This is far from impressive. Showing the overclocking results, especially on liquid nitrogen, is not a good indication of the day to day performance of the processor.

    For example, here is a video from 2006 where a Pentium 4 processor is overclocked to 5 GHz. [youtube.com]

    So no, it doesn't look like "AMD's newest processor might finally once again compete with the best from Intel."
    • by AioKits (1235070) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:59PM (#25836467)
      But I get to keep the liquid nitrogen if this is the case, yes?
    • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cbreaker (561297) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:59PM (#25836477) Journal
      Yes, but you fail to note that the P4 was designed to reach insane clock speeds (which it never ended up being able to do.)

      You can't get a Core 2 CPU to run at 5Ghz no matter how hard you try.

      What this proves for AMD's CPU is that the architecture is able to handle 6Ghz, and the only problem is heat. Heat is a big problem, sure, but it's delt with every day in all sorts of new and creative ways - but usually just from reducing fab size and lowering voltage.

      I personally don't care much anymore about who's CPU is 5% faster than the other. I choose what gives me the best options.. And I really have had excellent results with AMD's processors in the past. I have a few Core 2 based machines and they're nice too, no doubt. It just doesn't really matter anymore.
      • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:04PM (#25836541)

        You can't get a Core 2 CPU to run at 5Ghz no matter how hard you try.

        Given that the Nehalem is reaching the same speeds [theinquirer.net] or higher [fudzilla.com] on air-cooling, I wouldn't be surprised if Intel could match 6 GHz under liquid nitrogen cooled conditions.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:52PM (#25837305) Homepage

        What this proves for AMD's CPU is that the architecture is able to handle 6Ghz, and the only problem is heat. Heat is a big problem, sure, but it's delt with every day in all sorts of new and creative ways - but usually just from reducing fab size and lowering voltage.

        Well, yes, in the sense that hotter transistors are slower than cooler ones. There's probably no way you could ever run it at 6GHz with air cooling, because even if you could actually dump all the heat produced you'd never get the chip cooler than ambient room temperature. Liquid nitrogen gets the chip well below room temperature so it can run faster.

        Lowering the voltage would reduce heat output, but also reduces the speed of transistors. Sure maybe 6GHz may be possible air-cooled with the next generation of fab tech, but that's not really relevant to the current product, and is kinda trivial to say anyway as new fab tech is responsible for us being able to have GHz processors with hundreds of millions of transistors in the first place.

      • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:36PM (#25838893) Homepage Journal

        You can't get a Core 2 CPU to run at 5Ghz no matter how hard you try.

        I'm sorry, but it's quite easy. All you need is the following:
        - Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 (x 3)
        - Duct Tape

        Bam! 6.78 Ghz. Done.

      • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by IorDMUX (870522) <mark@zimmerman3.gmail@com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:00PM (#25839183) Homepage

        personally don't care much anymore about who's CPU is 5% faster than the other. I choose what gives me the best options.. And I really have had excellent results with AMD's processors in the past. I have a few Core 2 based machines and they're nice too, no doubt. It just doesn't really matter anymore.

        When they're about equal, I choose AMD, so that next time I build a computer I'll still have a choice.

        • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cbreaker (561297) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:38PM (#25840259) Journal
          Absolutely. I agree with you.

          Heck, even if the Intel solution might be a LITTLE better, I'll still pick AMD a lot of times.

          And, at work I have the say as to what systems our clients will order for VMware hosts, and I always pick Opterons, even if they're a little more expensive. With AMD you get better multi-core performance when you're using a lot of RAM - perfect for VMware.

          This is likely to change when Intel releases their Server CPU's with what is basically HyperTransport and an embedded memory controller (which they said was a BAD idea...) But I'll still choose AMD because I want to support the company that's moving the technology forward.

          When you think about all of the big improvements to the x86 architecture in the last 10 years, it's almost all AMD innovations. A high-speed interconnect bus with no north bridge. An integrated memory controller. x64. The list goes on - AMD led the way, and it's amazing the arrogance you hear from the executives and product managers at Intel. They actually had the balls to say, when questioned about the similarities between Intel's new CPU and Athlon/Opteron, "Smart people can come up with the same ideas." Ohh, sure they can, but these engineers haven't been living in a box for the last 8 years, so that's utter bullshit. Unbelievable.
          • by Jorophose (1062218) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:04PM (#25840983)

            Considering Intel only puts it on some chips, it's the only thing that makes me consider AMD right now.

            That and the fact that 45nm Phenoms are coming to AM2+, so an AM2 board is not as "useless" as an LGA775... Sure, the LGA775 will get newer 45nm CPUs, and likely a few 32nm ones (or updated 45nm while the Nehalems are fixed up), but I feel you get better flexibility with AMD right now if you don't mind losing out a bit in gaming performance. Quads are also cheap when it's AMD. I'm just waiting for a 90W or 65W quad, and I'll buy one then.

            What would be nice is more honest numbers, though. From what I hear the new CPUs (including X2-4850e) from AMD have messed up TDP; like Intel's old "meh this much I guess" measurements, nothing like the new Core 2 mesurements of "Danger! Danger! This shit's gonna blow!"...

            But virtualisation takes the cake. I don't get a hit with AMD's CPUs, having Pacifica in all the chips.

            • by aurispector (530273) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:10PM (#25841387)

              I've been using AMD processors for years for two reasons. One is to keep the competition alive because it's a good thing. The second is because AMD processors are usually a better deal.

              If you look at the benchmark charts over at Tom's Hardware, you can get a rough idea of how the processors rank in terms of performance. Then, when you go out an price them, the stuff that gives you the best bang for the buck is usually AMD. Not talking cutting edge or server class processors but the kind of thing you would actually buy to build a decent system without breaking the bank.

              I have no grudge against Intel whatsoever - they're a great company with great products, but competition with AMD is one of the things that keeps them that way.

            • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:48AM (#25843511)

              But virtualisation takes the cake. I don't get a hit with AMD's CPUs, having Pacifica in all the chips.

              Ain't no way I'm going to go dig up the links, but even with the latest virtualization support in Intel chips, the opterons are reportedly significantly faster changing from one VM to another. One hypothesis is that it is due to support for nested page tables on the AMD implementation, but I have yet to read anything more than empirical tests plus speculation.

        • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:2, Insightful)

          by TheReaperD (937405) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:29PM (#25841149)

          I couldn't agree more.

          Even all other things being equal, I still tend to prefer AMD as they have a better track record of supporting upgrades without having to change out your CPU, RAM and motherboard every time. Also, if your board burns out, you're far more likely to find a new retail motherboard for AMD to replace it. Intel, a lot of times, your only option is eBay.

      • by Zephiris (788562) on Friday November 21, 2008 @12:52AM (#25842023)
        Funny, people who have done it disagree [soft-go.com].
    • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:02PM (#25836527)

      On air cooling AMD showed the quad-core CPU running at nearly 4.0 GHz

      A highly efficient processor running at clock speeds not seen in standard pc kit since the Pentium 4 era... Sounds like they are regaining their footing to me!

    • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chrysrobyn (106763) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:14PM (#25836719)

      Look, I don't think overclocking in liquid nitrogen is cause for a slam dunk conclusion that AMD is now competitive with Intel, but stating that it's not impressive and not an indication of the performance of the processor indicates a complete lack of understanding of electrical design.

      This wouldn't have worked, for example, with the original PPC 7400 (G4) past 500MHz. As it turned out, there was a hard stop getting past that. Finding FMax (maximum frequency) independent of reliability and power concerns highlights design weaknesses. If they can overclock by 50% with adequate cooling, one can conclude they don't have any early or late mode problems preventing higher frequencies, and that metal isn't the limiting factor. In fact, they can easily conclude that the electrical design is sound and that their limit will be what they can qualify from a reliability perspective.

      • by Fred_A (10934) <fred AT fredshome DOT org> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:13PM (#25838523) Homepage

        Look, I don't think overclocking in liquid nitrogen is cause for a slam dunk conclusion that AMD is now competitive with Intel, but stating that it's not impressive and not an indication of the performance of the processor indicates a complete lack of understanding of electrical design.

        I still want to wait to see how the intel performs when cooled with liquid helium.
        (not that I care in the slightest what brand of CPU is in my machine as long as it's current in terms of performance, cheap and not a power hog...)

      • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:44PM (#25839005) Homepage Journal

        It's nice, but I don't think the ability to overclock with extreme measures necessarily indicates that it is better at handling more conventional tasks in benign conditions.

    • Re:Overclocking BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:18PM (#25836779)

      This is far from impressive. Showing the overclocking results, especially on liquid nitrogen, is not a good indication of the day to day performance of the processor.

      If the overclocking results were the only thing in the full article, your argument would be valid. However, your comment indicates that you read the short summary, did a quick search for your P4 overclocking link, and posted for quick mod points from Intel fanboys.

      TFA shows the processor benchmarking at 3GHz, and 4GHz with air cooling, likely a custom air setup that would not be uncommon for many self builders. Check Intel's speeds, I'll even give you a link to a vendor [newegg.com]. I even filtered for the highest GHz. They are about the same.

      So Yes, it does look like ""AMD's newest processor might finally once again compete with the best from Intel." Maybe it doesn't blow them away, but compete with Intel it does.

      (This commenter recognizes that raw GHz is not the end-all and be-all of the final experience, but this is the only concrete number we currently have to argue about)

      • by MLopat (848735) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:50PM (#25840371) Homepage
        You're quick to assert that the AMD processor will compete with Intel but then turn around and give a disclaimer about knowing GHz != Performance. So again, my point is that the overclocked speed does not imply AMD is back on Intel's level.
    • by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:47PM (#25839031)
      You must have mistaken frequency for speed. The clock is not the speed of the processor at its tasks, but rather the frequency of the processor. Let the benchmarks speak for themselves.
  • Patience (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:53PM (#25836385)

    If they just wait six months, their new chip won't be such a hot product and thus won't need liquid nitrogen to reach 6GHz

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:57PM (#25836431)

    Will it run Vista?

  • Misleading title (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:59PM (#25836487)

    If you need liquid nitrogen to boost it to 6 GHz, it's not all that interesting. Nehalem 2.66 GHz offering has also been shown to overclock to 4 GHz on air cooling, and some people have got the 3.2 GHz offering up to 4.5 GHz on air. On GHz they're roughly the same, possibly with a slight Intel edge.

    I thought both companies were ditching the GHz war and fighting for actual performance supremacy? What's with the silly "my GHz is bigger than yours" competition? Do we have PPW numbers, or just press releases that mean nothing?

    • Basically (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:24PM (#25836875)

      GHz is brought up when your chosen platform is on top. If you aren't, it's downplayed.

      For example the original "MHz myth" was started by Mac fans. When they first went PPC, Apple had a large lag behind Intel in MHz. Well, the Mac fans were all excited about this new architecture and kept talking about how PPC has a positive second derivative of MHz and x86 had a negative one and so on and so forth. They were all excited about how they'd be ahead in MHz in a few years and basically equated MHz to performance.

      Well that didn't come to pass. PPC didn't scale up in MHz fast and x86 did. So all of a sudden they started whining about the "MHz myth" and saying that it didn't matter, performance did. When their platform wasn't going to be on top it changed from important to worthless.

      Same shit here. When Intel had the high GHz chips, AMD heads were up on the fact that AMDs did more per clock. Now if AMD has the high GHz chips, they'll be touting that as being the measure of awesomeness.

      Me, I'll just keep buying what does the job best, forget the clock speed.

      • Re:Basically (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thepotoo (829391) <thepotoospam@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:08PM (#25837557)

        You seem like the right person to ask this of, so, how exactly do I choose what's best for the job?

        I want a good, cheap, stable, processor that's going to be able to handle every game made in the next few years (the same thing every home user wants).

        I can't really judge by GHz, since my ancient 1.6 GHz processor is enough to handle most modern games when overclocked (2.13 GHz). So what do I look at? L1/L2 cache? FSB? Does the tech (45 nm) factor into speed at all, or is does it just give a general idea of how advanced the chip is?

        I want to know more about the underlying technology and how it impacts real-world performance rather than just "buy a Core 2 Quad Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache, n00b": if I wanted a recommendation for a specific chip I could use one of a million benchmarks and pick one that's rated highly on Newegg.

        I know, I know, JFGI, but I can't find a decent explanation anywhere. Even Wikipedia (while having plenty of great technical info) doesn't really tell me how having (for example) a larger cache will improve performance.

        • Re:Basically (Score:3, Interesting)

          by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:32PM (#25837963) Journal

          You are (possibly unintentionally?) turning this into a straw man argument.

          It's not the processor that really dictates what you can handle. It's the graphics card moreso.

          As long as you have a mobo that can handle PCIEx16 (minimum) and a nice processor, well you're good for quite a while. Meanwhile, anyone buying any motherboard right now is potentially fucked not because of processors or graphics, but because of USB3 coming out. Since no current motherboards will be able to support that speed without a drop-in PCIE card, you can imagine that in a year or two when USB3 is commonplace anyone without it is going to be screwed.

          If you want to find unbiased reviews, stick with techreport.com and follow their articles. They are the company that outed other companies (and tested their own as well), to see who was willing to give positive reviews based on being bribed, such as tomshardware.

          • by Bob-taro (996889) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:41PM (#25838969)

            They are the company that outed other companies (and tested their own as well), to see who was willing to give positive reviews based on being bribed, such as tomshardware.

            Really? Do you have a link to that story? I've read THG for years, so I'd like to hear the full details of that claim.

          • by thepotoo (829391) <thepotoospam@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:05PM (#25839243)

            Thanks for techreport.com, I'd somehow missed that site.

            I'm not sure why exactly I'd be screwed when USB3.0 comes out. Will it break my existing mouse and keyboard? How about my flash drives?

            And if I really need USB3 functionality, I'll be able to buy that PCIE card, so I fail to see what the problem is.

            I am well aware of the benefits of a good video card, and I opted for a $25 dollar processor (2800) and a $150 VC (7900GS) several years ago, and they served me (really) well. However, they are in need of an upgrade (especially as I play RTS games and a single-core seems to be holding me back), and I'd like to know what to look for in a good gaming processor.

            (Sycraft-fu's post further down really answered my question).

            • Re:Basically (Score:3, Informative)

              by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:49PM (#25841263) Journal

              Oh, no. USB3 will be backwards and forwards compatible. You can run USB3 on USB2 devices and vice versa, but the speed difference is 20x faster so it's a big deal (way faster than firewire). AKA 600MB/s. Meaning that you could tune HD tv and use ridiculously fast flash drives/it could be straight competition to Esata as well.

              Gaming processor = look at techreport's system builder guide on the front page. They show justification for why they choose something and newegg links to the whole system and is updated monthly I believe, so it's pretty easy to compare. You'd be amazed how cheap the stuff is sometimes :) In my personal opinion, phenoms are dirt cheap for a quadcore and getting a ati/amd 4850 can get you some monster performance real cheap ($170 for a vcard that very competitive right now that you could drop in another for sli at a later time to run as fast as the baseline fastest card on the market).

        • Re:Basically (Score:5, Informative)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:48PM (#25839043)

          For games, doesn't much matter. Get a dual core chip that's reasonable and you should be fine. Games do use the CPU but the GPU is by far more important. You can get a quad if you really want but at this time very few can use it at all, and those that can don't tend to be that efficient. A good dual core from the mid range area from either manufacturer should work well.

          65 vs 45 nm isn't that important except in terms of energy usage. The 45nm chips are going to use less power for equal performance. However this again isn't a huge deal since the GPU is likely to be the big drain in the system.

          Cache isn't all that big a deal. Again, just get whatever the midrange is. Games aren't an area where cache seems to make a large performance difference.

          More or less, while these things can make a difference, they don't make enough to justify that much worry or money. You will probably find that a $250 processor works pretty much as good as a $1000 processor, whereas a $300 graphics card is going to be 50% faster than a $150 graphics card. Thus it is clear where your money should go.

          Personally I have a Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz 65nm chip and it works just fine on all the games I've thrown at it. In general, when games are limited it isn't the CPU it is either the refresh rate of the monitor (it isn't useful to go above that and as with all LCDs mine is set at 60Hz) or the GPU. Now keep in mind the GPU I have is a GeForce GTX 280. So even a GPU that heavy hitting doesn't really seem to need more CPU, for all the games I've messed with.

          If I were to build a gaming system today my strategy would be as such:

          --Get a midrange CPU. Something probably not more than $300, but not less than $150. Maybe a quad core since I also do audio work, but I'd be looking more at dual cores. I'd make sure it supports DDR2 RAM, since DDR3 is currently too pricey to justify the small gain.
          --Get 4GB of RAM. It's cheap, why not.
          --Get a nice big drive since bigger drives are faster and games are not getting any smaller.
          --Get a video card such that I can afford to get a new one of the same price once every 12-18 months or so.

          That last one is key: Your video card is important to games, and it gets outdated real fast. You can't buy one that won't, because new technology comes out all the time. You can drop $2000 on an insane multi-card setup, and it'll still be outdated soon. So, the right answer is to buy less card, more often. I say make it a yearly target. You aren't necessarily going to buy that often, but that's a good target to make sure your price is realistic and you really don't want to buy more often than that. So whatever you can afford per year, get that. Then, when the next worthwhile upgrade in that price range comes along, get it.

          That's what I did. Prior to my 280, I had an 8800. They both cost me about $400. I can afford to spend that every year (I spend a lot on my computer, it's important to me). In that case, it was more like 16-18 months, which is fine. You keep your card until there's a new one worthwhile and/or you find a game that doesn't run well, but you are ready to upgrade yearly. Used to be I couldn't afford so much, so I used more midrange cards. I had a GeForce 3 Ti 200 back in the day. Wasn't top of the line, but I could afford to get it, and then to replace it next year if needed.

          So get a midrange CPU, plenty of RAM, and a video card that you can upgrade and you should be fine. CPUs have pretty good life these days. It's videocards that are obselete all the time. Good news is that videocards can be gotten for reasonable prices. For example an ATi 4850 will run you about $150, less after rebate. However it is enough to run any game out there at high detail at a reasonable rez. My bet is it lasts more than a year, but at $150, it isn't unreasonable to replace next year if you need.

          • by Jorophose (1062218) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:15PM (#25841071)

            The nice thing about current GPU/CPU tech is that a Athlon X2 2.6GHz with an 8800GT/HD4850 is considered baseline by Ars, and can play games at 1680x1050 comfortably. That's pretty incredible.

          • Re:Basically (Score:2, Informative)

            by poopdeville (841677) on Friday November 21, 2008 @01:08AM (#25842099)

            I wrote this in response to another, and decided against posting it (since the GP specifically asked about gaming, but I missed that), but then decided to use it in response to your post. It expands on your points.

            Addressing the GP's question: It depends on your application/use-case. A database server can do fine with a relatively slow multi-core CPU, as long as it has fast enough IO and a LOT of RAM. A scientific computing/numerical analysis machine will likely need the fastest FPUs it can find -- hence the popularity of the PowerPC architecture in that field. Depending on the domain of scientific computing (discrete data mining or other discrete mathematics problems), something like a Sun UltraSPARC T2 could potentially do very well. These sorts of machines often have a LOT of RAM too, since hitting swap can turn a 10 hour long run into a year long run. Gamers need fast FPUs, usually provided by the graphics card.

            The average user will probably benefit most from a quick IO subsystem combined with 4GB of RAM. Fast IO will allow your applications to be loaded quickly, and lots of RAM will help keep your applications and data cached, so you won't have to hit the disk for them again. (Which means the second time you start an application will be several orders of magnitude faster) Fast processors are nice, but only if you actually do processing. There's no point in keeping a 4.0 GHz Core Quad Extreme idle, or waiting on disk or user input, except for bragging rights.

            I wouldn't worry about things like the L2 cache much as long as you get a modern processor or are doing serious number crunching. A cache is only useful if it gets "hit" -- if the value the processor is looking for is already stored in cache. A cache miss means going to RAM or disk (or reprocessing) for the value. A MB is enough to store the most used parts of your OS's kernel. Scientific computing applications are often designed to fit in the L1 or L2 cache -- if the main loop is going to run a hundred trillion times, it's better to keep its instructions in the cache so you don't have to go to RAM for them, wasting 2-4 cycles each time. Also, if the main loop is bigger than a cache, you will ALWAYS have to go to the next layer of memory, either from L1 to L2, or from L2 to L3 or RAM.

            Other processor subsystems are similar -- you would already know what you needed if you "really" needed it.

            If you want to compute faster, figure out which component/subsystem is slowing you down. And look for specific recommendations about that component/subsystem. The rest of your system will fall into place around it, at least as fast as your current one, since everything has gotten incrementally faster. The adage regarding premature optimization is true of both software and hardware.

        • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:17PM (#25840081) Homepage Journal

          how exactly do I choose what's best for the job?

          Buy a chip that costs about $100 and then be happy with it, or buy one that costs about $300 and be extremely happy with it.

        • by Sj0 (472011) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:15PM (#25840625) Homepage Journal

          Simple test:

          Are they selling it to you? It's probably way more powerful than you'll need for a long time. Go with the cheapest one you can get on the newest architecture you can find.

          You said it yourself, your ancient processor overclocked slightly (it does matter whether it's AMD or Intel to know how ancient that is) is almost enough to play today's games. No matter what you buy today it'll be way more powerful than either an Athlon XP 2000+ or a Pentium 4 1.6Ghz, probably 2-4 times before counting the dual-core aspect.

          Good processors are getting so fast and so cheap, it's not really even worth figuring out. Go with the one that gives you the most warm fuzzy feeling inside.

        • by andrewd18 (989408) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:11AM (#25845703)
          I've always purchased my CPUs with the following rules of thumb:

          1. Pick the CPU slot or form factor that has the longest roadmap. With my last computer, that was the AMD 939-pin platform. This will allow for future upgrades to the CPU, even if 3-4 years have passed.

          2. Once the form factor has been chosen, do the research and find the best performance-to-price ratio. If it comes down to a few different processors, pick the one with the highest FSB and/or memory onboard cache.

          3. Get a quality cooler for the CPU, like Zalman, that will last a while, and can be cleaned and transplanted onto a future CPU.
        • by mollymoo (202721) on Friday November 21, 2008 @08:13PM (#25853493) Journal

          I want a good, cheap, stable, processor that's going to be able to handle every game made in the next few years (the same thing every home user wants).

          Every home user? Erm, no. For most home users performance rendering web pages, using Office and displaying their photos is much more important than playing the latest 3D FPS.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:29PM (#25837915) Homepage

        Well that didn't come to pass. PPC didn't scale up in MHz fast and x86 did. So all of a sudden they started whining about the "MHz myth" and saying that it didn't matter, performance did. When their platform wasn't going to be on top it changed from important to worthless.

        Same shit here. When Intel had the high GHz chips, AMD heads were up on the fact that AMDs did more per clock. Now if AMD has the high GHz chips, they'll be touting that as being the measure of awesomeness.

        Me, I'll just keep buying what does the job best, forget the clock speed.

        Right, that's the best thing to do, because despite the changing opinions the fact is that the Megahertz Myth is and has always been true. It's worth pointing out that at certain points in time, like when AMD and Intel were racing to 1GHz, the architectures being compared were similar enough that MHz was a decent first-order measure of relative performance. That went right out the window with the P4 which was designed for highly marketable MHz numbers at heavy cost to IPC* thus more or less necessitating AMD to play up the MHz Myth. Now even though both companies are back to PPro and K7-derived architectures they're still far enough apart that MHz isn't very meaningful. Nevertheless, MHz is half of the (clock frequency)*(IPC) performance equation, most importantly the half that doesn't change from app to app, so it's still important to demonstrate that processors have frequency headroom. Especially since squeezing out more IPC is difficult and done in 5-10% chunks over the course of a major processor revision.

        Anyway, if you really care about performance and not Rah-Rah bragging rights (or whining rights), benchmark scores are what matter. Or better yet, the performance results of whatever you personally find important, though that can be hard to do. Still, that's no reason why AMD or Intel shouldn't pursue higher frequencies, or show off when they can.

        * There was an engineering justification for this strategy, they had charts showing how they could continue ramping frequency, even at the cost of having to add more pipe stages, and still have a long-term performance advantage. That never came to pass, because their chart didn't account for increasing leakage current as transistors shrunk. In any event, I guarantee you that the mandate for clock frequency over all else came from management/marketing, and the engineers just had to find a way to make that work.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:47PM (#25837247) Homepage Journal

      Actually the i7 last time I checked only went to 5.9ghz on LN2. And they showed 4ghz on air so yes this is pretty interesting depending on the price point.
      An over clocked $250 AMD Phenom II could compete very well with a $1000 i7.
      That would be very interesting.

    • by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:04PM (#25837487)

      I have had my Q6600 running at 4GHz for three weeks 24/7 on air. 4GHz is not that hard. The system didn't crash, everything ran fine. I didn't have to turn the heat on for those three weeks either, but cranking a 2.66 GHz to 4.1 GHz is going to create more heat.

      It did take a bit of tweaking to get it there. But I did it, and now it is running back at stock speeds. This machine is a my DVR it doesn't need to run at 4 GHz to record TV. Yes I have a much less power hungry system on order. I was just testing things out with what I already had. The biggest gains I saw at 4 GHz were: boot times were faster, got higher CPU scores on benchmarks (3d mark etc), not needing to turn on the heat for a while.

    • by toby (759) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:26PM (#25840711) Homepage Journal

      some people have got the 3.2 GHz offering up to 4.5 GHz on air

      I bet that's super-reliable. Don't people have anything better to do?

  • by cheetham (247087) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:08PM (#25836611) Homepage

    Anyone ever tried cooling a CPU with a continuous flow of liquid helium? :)

  • Almost a fanboy (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:10PM (#25836635)

    Had I not bought two new computers within a year I could almost have been a fanboy. No, they were Intel as I could afford them...

  • I've stuck with AMD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:53PM (#25837341)
    First, I can put together an AMD box equivalent to an Intel for about $200 bucks cheaper. That money goes into my Video Card and I wind up with a better overall System.

    Second, AMD clearly differentiates their product. An XP 6000 is faster than a 5000, etc. Buying an Intel CPU is a chore (and make sure you get the right board, That's not always clear either).Basically I'm Lazy, and Intel's made it a pain to pick the right processor.
    • by Tetsujin (103070) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:21PM (#25838651) Homepage Journal

      First, I can put together an AMD box equivalent to an Intel for about $200 bucks cheaper. That money goes into my Video Card and I wind up with a better overall System.

      I just bought a new computer, looking at quad-core configurations from either Intel or AMD - and, granted, I'm not so in-touch with computer hardware as I used to be - but my impression from the reviews I'd seen, etc. was that AMD was slightly slower per clock-cycle than Intel, and that the range of available clock speeds didn't go as high, either. The one advantage AMD had was a better memory architecture... Which, given the fact that this is a quad-core system, is very important if you don't want the problem to be dominated by a bunch of cache misses - but still my impression was that the Intel offerings were stronger at the current time...

      • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:32PM (#25840217)

        Intel handled (I think they still do) all IPC (Inter-Processor Communication) through the FSB. Which is also the ram bus, and so runs at ram speed. They even did this for inter-core communication, completely screwing any attempts to scale a single intel system to lots of cores and have it still run well.
        AMD have 3 independent buses, an inter-core comms for multi-core cpus (runs at cpu clock speed), hypertransport for inter-cpu comms and device comms (runs at multiple GHz independent of CPU speed), and an independent ram bus (runs at ram speed, obviously). This means that an AMD system gains real performance pretty linearly with the number of cores and cpus, and an Intel one didn't.

        Intel countered by massively increasing their ram speed, countering the FSB bottleneck for smaller (2 or 4 cores) systems, and by making their cpus capable of more instructions per clock than AMD cpus (a real surprise when it happened), giving them great single-threaded performance. AMD couldn't match the performance of the most powerful Intel Core 2 cpus, so went for energy efficiency in a big way, and generally tried to undercut (instead of outperform) Intel at every turn. AMD's cache architecture was better too, with data not duplicated in all levels of the cache, so AMD cpus effectively had 10% more cache compared to Intel cpus. Intel countered by adding lots more cache to their cpus. AMD also went for forward and backward compatibility in a big way, a BIOS update (and sometimes not even that) is all that is needed to make the oldest socket 939 boards work with the newest AMD cpus. You lose out on a few features (e.g. faster HT and ram), but it makes upgrading an AMD machine much cheaper.

        This leaves us with the situation where AMD cpus are great for highly-communicating parallel operations, and are great in clusters and datacenters due to having higher performance per watt (so they cost less to run and need less cooling). They also make for cheaper desktop systems both to build and to run, important if you're on a budget. Intel cpus are great for ram performance, and high-speed single-threaded ops, important if you are building a super-powerful gaming rig. Intel's pushing of their on-board graphics chipsets has also caused Intel cpus to end up in a lot of pre-built machines.

        Though to be honest, You don't need a cpu costing more than £60 to play anything released recently at full speed, and AMD is incredibly competitive at those prices (e.g. my AMD X2 5600). The real expense is in graphics these days, though my 2-generation-old nVidia 8800 (rev 1) GTS 320MB hasn't struggled on anything I've bought recently, even on high settings...

        Looks like the performance race might be slowing, unless someone comes up with a cheap, working holographic projector :)

        • by Nalgas D. Lemur (105785) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @02:03AM (#25855757)

          AMD also went for forward and backward compatibility in a big way, a BIOS update (and sometimes not even that) is all that is needed to make the oldest socket 939 boards work with the newest AMD cpus. You lose out on a few features (e.g. faster HT and ram), but it makes upgrading an AMD machine much cheaper.

          Err, really? How's that? I know AM2(+) and AM3 are supposed to be relatively interchangeable, but Socket 939 doesn't have the same number of pins or layout as them, last time I checked. I would be totally thrilled if that were possible, since I still have a Socket 939 board, and my CPU is the only thing that's really not fast enough right now, but unless I'm missing something, I don't see how that would work. It seems like you'd just end up with some bent pins and a broken computer.

      • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:07PM (#25841369) Homepage

        from the reviews I'd seen, etc. was that AMD was slightly slower per clock-cycle than Intel, and that the range of available clock speeds didn't go as high, either.

        That's all true. Intel's been beating AMD at that for a while now.

        Thing is, that's never the question that you want to be asking when you buy a new computer. Who cares which company has the fastest chip at $1000. The important question is: If I spend $90 on a chip, what's the best I can get? What if I spend $150? Is that better than putting $60 somewhere else? How about $200?

        In the $75 - $250 range (the range I personally care about), AMD and Intel are pretty much always trading blows. Here's a good chart for illustration: Crysis CPU Benchmark [tomshardware.com]. Note how, for example, the Intel chip at $187 is slower than the AMD chip at $170.

        • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Friday November 21, 2008 @09:35AM (#25844479) Homepage

          Who cares which company has the fastest chip at $1000.
          only those who have money to burn and/or are buying more for penis length reasons than real value

          In the $75 - $250 range (the range I personally care about), AMD and Intel are pretty much always trading blows. Here's a good chart for illustration: Crysis CPU Benchmark [tomshardware.com]. Note how, for example, the Intel chip at $187 is slower than the AMD chip at $170.
          Note how the intel chip at $164 (rounding down to the nearest dollar like you appeared to do) beats every amd chip in the table in that benchmark.

          To me that table seems to show one thing: intel THRASHING amd in the upper midrange. One overpriced intel chip (it appears the reason it's price is high is that none of the cheaper retailers stock it) does not change that.

          Of course it will depend on your application, most of the AMD chips seem to be quad core so if you have applications that make better use of multiple cores things would look better for AMD.

    • by Carbon016 (1129067) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:32PM (#25839613)

      If an AMD box is $200 cheaper than a Intel box you are doing it wrong.

      The E5200 is the same price as AMD's best offerings and smokes all of them. The motherboard is the same price, around $80.

    • by Ostracus (1354233) on Friday November 21, 2008 @02:23AM (#25842485) Journal

      "First, I can put together an AMD box equivalent to an Intel for about $200 bucks cheaper. That money goes into my Video Card and I wind up with a better overall System."

      Oh I don't know. Newegg has some nice deals on Intel/Mobo combo deals. Throw in any promo codes and rebates and you can get a good deal on an intel.

    • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Sunday November 23, 2008 @09:12PM (#25868857) Journal

      Ummm I don't know what you're talking about, the days of AMD being significantly cheaper are long gone and even if you do save money, the AMD performance levels are quite distinctively different to Intel now.

      This is not the AMD Athlon XP thunderbird vs Pentium 4 days, where Intel was at least 2x more expensive for only 20 to 30% more speed, Intel is marginally more expensive for a lot more speed and a cooler overall system.

      Furthermore back in the day, a good PC was 3000$ AUD, then 2000$ AUD then 1500$ etc - it's slowly decreased and decreased.
      Buying Intel would be 3000$ and AMD 2200$ - now it's more like 150$ difference to get the Intel rig, it's really a no brainer.

      I'm all for supporting the underdog (I have an ATI video card) but I mean sorry, AMD's products just aren't compelling and haven't been since the Athlon X2's when intel didn't have the core 2 duo out.

  • by VShael (62735) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:03AM (#25843047) Journal

    I bought a notebook about 5 years ago, that gave 2.4Ghz.
    By the oft-misunderstood (I'm sure I'm using it incorrectly here) that would have meant that I could be buying a 9.6Ghz machine these days.

    What am I not understanding here? (Bear in mind that CPU's and architecture are really outside my scope of knowledge/interest.)

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