AMD JUST BROKE an important psychological barrier with a sub-$100 quad core CPU, one of five released today. Between this part and a 785G chipset, you can make a tolerable desktop PC for under $300, plus case and PSU.
Update: The X2s are old, only the X4s are new today.
The new CPUs are in the Athlon II model line, meaning business as opposed to enthusiast class chips. Two are quad cores, the X4 620 and 630, running at 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz respectively. A little below those are three dual cores, the X2 240, 245 and 250 at 2.8GHz, 2.9GHz and 3.0GHz respectively. All have the AMD standard 128KB of L1 cache per core and a shared 2MB of L2 cache.
The new look of AMD two digit quad processors
All of the new CPUs use socket AM3, so they will run on an AM2+ board if you have one, and are built on the GlobalFoundries 45nm process. The dual core parts have a die size of 117.5mm^2 and the quad cores use 169mm^2 of silicon. Should you pry the lid off, you might find a quad with the larger Propus die, but the L3 cache will be fused off. Functionally, these parts are equivalent.
The pricing is the most interesting part, with the first sub-$100, marketing speak for $99, quad core in the 620. The 630 lists for $122, and the dual cores are $60, $66, and $87 for the 240, 245 and 250 respectively.
If you add in a 985G board for $70, 2GB of DDR3 for $40 and a 500GB drive for $50, you are well under $300 for a quad core computer with tolerable gaming abilities. You can easily add a case and PSU while staying under the $350 mark.
The cheapest price I could find an Intel quad core for was $150 for a 2.33GHz and $90 for a G45 based mobo, putting it right at about $70 higher cost than the roughly comparable AMD solution. While this isn’t a lot in terms of absolute dollars, as a percentage it is huge – about 30% to 40% – especially in light of the woeful graphics capabilities of the G45 compared to the 785G.
AMD might not have wanted its CPUs to be forced down the price stack far enough to claim the crown for first to sub-$100 quads, but until it gets to bulldozer, that is basically its lot. The upside to this is that consumers win, and so do overclockers. A smaller, cooler chip, especially the dual cores, should overclock to the moon.S|A