AMD today announced that it's new B3 stepping 4x core (Quad) and B2 stepping 3x core (Tri) Phenom has begun shipping. The B3 stepping is a replacement for the B2 stepping Phenom which had the TLB bug.
What is the TLB Bug you ask? All AMD quad-core processors utilize a shared L3 cache. In instances where the software uses nested memory pages, this processor will experience a rare condition. The erratum is a chip-level issue involving the TLB logic for the L3 cache that can cause system hangs in specific circumstances. AMD has a [bios] fix for the problem, but it degrades performance. AMD has stated publicly that the workaround can lower performance by as much as 10%, although one source characterized the performance hit to TR as 10-20%.
AMD has announced that there are 8 new SKU's. 2 Tri-core and 6 Quad core variants.
X3 Core 8000 Series:
-8400 (2.1 GHz @ 95w)
-8600 (2.3 GHz @ 95w)
X4 Core 9000 Series:
-9850 (2.5 GHz @ 125w)
-9750 (2.4 GHz @ 125w) / (2.4 GHz @ 95w)
-9650 (2.3 GHz @ 95w)
-9550 (2.2 GHz @ 95w)
-9100e (1.8 GHz @ 65w)
All xx50 series are B3 stepping while the 9100e and Tri-cores are still B2 stepping, although this is likely to change quickly as B3 Tri-core are expected Q2 08.
While these parts are unlikely to upset Intel's current line-up with its dual core 8400 able to easily reach 3.6 GHz and the widely praised Q6600 (G0 Stepping) regularly topping out at 3.4 GHz using a $15 HSF (Arctic Freezer Pro). AMD has priced their Phenom's accordingly and make them more attractive proposition against Intel's Quad at standard clocks.
AMD has been very smart with its synergistic platform approach however. Drop a lower clocked Phenom (3x or 4x) into a 780G based motherboard with the HD2400 IGP then add a HD3450 for hybrid crossfire and you have a unbeatable budget combination that costs under $300 and is capable of topping 4500 in 3DMark 06, playing full 1080p HiDef movies with under a 20% CPU load while being whisper quiet.
So while AMD may not be breaking into the dizzying CPU clocks that Intel is currently pumping out for the average Joe AMD is now again an attractive proposition. Especially with gamers where a lower priced CPU means more cash to spend on a more powerful graphics card.
And the poor chums who buy the beige boxes from PCWorld and other retail outlets may finally have a chance of playing games in the sub $500 market, which is currently dominated by Intel IGP chipsets which are unable to much more than display Vista's Aero interface.
Also of interest is the 3x core 8000 series which is unlikely to have any competition from Intel for a long time giving AMD an excellent niche all to its self. It will be interesting to see if this is the death knell for AMD's X2 CPU?
But there is a fly in the ointment however;
-The rated wattage remains fairly high compared to Intel.
-They are unlikely to offer over clocking anywhere near the 3.5GHz-4GHz range that 45nm Core 2/Core 2 Quads until AMD is able to transition to its own 45nm process (current timetable is Q4 08)
The Phenom has had a rough birth and AMD has lost a lot of ground to Intel, now with the B3 stepping & 45nm on the horizon AMD seems to have something to fight with.