Not too much hype is around triple-core processors these days, but AMD has high hopes that the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition processor is about to change all that. AMD is positioning the triple-core $145 X3 720 BE against Intel’s $165 dual-core E8400. AMD feels that the $20 lower price will offer consumers a better value since the processor has an additional core. Sadly, the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor that we reviewed yesterday can be had for $169 and might as well be in the same price category. AMD still has a lower price tag, but no longer has a core advantage. What is interesting to us is the fact that this processor should have a ton of overclocking headroom due to being unlocked. If that holds true this processor might be a budget overclocker that will stand out from the crowd and win the hearts of enthusiasts.
The Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition processor operates at 2.8GHz and features the full 6 MB of L3 cache, which makes this processor have the same amount of cache as the quad cores! Since the cache is shared, AMD can have three cores running and not have to lose any of the Level 3 cache, which means each core now has more cache than even the more expensive quad-core processors! Each individual core still features 64 KB of L1 Data cache, 64 KB of L1 Instruction cache, and 512 KB of L2 cache. Another bonus of having just three active cores is the fact that this is a 95 Watt TDP part, which is lower than the 125 Watt TDP Phenom II X4 processors.
The other processor that is under the spot light is the AMD Phenom II X4 810. This processor will be retailing for $175 and is set to do battle with Intel’s $169 Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor in the mainstream quad-core market. This processor is a quad-core part, but there is a catch that might make you scratch your head for a few seconds. AMD reduced the L3 cache from 6MB down to just 4MB!
The AMD Phenom II X4 810 processor operates at 2.6GHz and features just 4MB of shared L3 cache. If each core is under equal load the most L3 cache each can have is 1MB. The Phenom II X4 720 Black Edition, on the other hand, has 6MB of shared L3 cache between three cores, which means it has 2MB of cache per core if the loads are equal. With half the amount of L3 cache available to each core it will be interesting to see how the Phenom II X4 810 does in terms of both performance and sales. Luckily, each individual core still features 64 KB of L1 Data cache, 64 KB of L1 Instruction cache, and 512 KB of L2 cache. AMD also informed us that due to the lower clock speed and reduced L3 cache size that they were able to qualify this processor as another 95 Watt TDP part and that all current Socket AM3 processors are 95W TDP. The AMD Phenom II X4 810 processor is not a black edition part, which means that it is multiplier locked. Increasing the bus speed will be the only way to overclock this processor and that is likely to deter many enthusiasts and overclockers.
Common Socket AM3 Processor Specifications:
Now that we have a fairly good understanding of the two processors that will be benchmarked let’s take a look at the test system.