Phenom Cores Make It Into Dual-Core Processors

Quad-Core processors are all the rage these days, but with the economy down and out people might want to take another look at dual-core processors to keep your household budget intact. AMD is today announcing the Athlon X2 7750 – a STARS-based (Phenom 65nm core) processor that is a brand new dual-core processor based on the Kuma core. Since this processor is based off the Phenom core it has L3 cache, this should make it competitive in terms of both price and performance to the $82.99 Intel E5200 dual-core processor. The AMD Athlon X2 7750 is launching today with a $79 price tag when bought in 1000-unit tray quantities, so it is priced directly against the Intel E5200. It has been a long time since we have looked at a dual-core processor on launch day, so lets get right to it.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 CPU

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 is a dual-core processor with a 2.7GHz clock frequency. This is a Black Edition processor, which means that even though it comes set at 200MHz x 13.5, it has an unlocked multiplier that you can change for improved overclocking. The Athlon X2 7750 has 2 x 512MB of L2 Cache and 2MB shared of L3 Cache. This is a huge step up from the older Athlon X2's that had the same amount of L2 Cache, but no L3 Cache.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 CPU

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 uses the same HyperTransport 3.0 bus that Phenom processors use as it is based off the same core.  The Athlon X2 7750 has the HT set to run at 1800MHz an will work just fine in any socket AM2+ motherboard. The X2 7750 features a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 95 Watts, which means that it should be able to work in nearly any motherboard with the proper socket. The picture above shows all 940 pins that are needed for the Athlon X2 7750 processor to operate.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 CPU

To compare the Athlon X2 7750 to something recent on the dual-core front we will be looking at the Athlon X2 5050e as well. On October 21st, 2008, AMD launched the Athlon 64 X2 5050e processor, which is based on the 65nm Brisbane core. The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e processor is clocked at 2.60GHz and has a TDP rating of just 45 Watts at the highest peak power. The Athlon X2 5050e is wildly popular for Small Form Factor (SFF) and Home Theater Personal Computers (HTPCs) as the low TDP means that it puts out less heat and consumes less power than other processors in its class. At $61 when bought in 1000-unit tray quantities, it costs 23 less than the Athlon X2 7750, but has less cache, a 100MHz lower core clock and an older and slower HyperTransport. It is interesting to point out that the 5050e and 7750 that we are testing here today were made just one week apart and yet the 5050e came out two months ago.

CPU-Z Screen Shots

Everyone loves to see CPU-Z screen captures, so here they are for both processors.

AMD Athlon X2 5050e Processor CPU-Z

The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e is code named Brisbane, but for some reason CPU-Z 1.49 doesn't pick up on that. Everything else is correctly displayed though.  Notice that the processor has just 1MB of L2 Cache and no L3 Cache. Notice that this 45W TDP part uses just 1.20V for the CPU core voltage.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Processor CPU-Z Capture

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 is code named Kuma and this is displayed by CPU-Z 1.49 with no problems at all.  Notice that it has 3MB of shared L3 Cache, which is something the Brisbane processors don't have. The CPU voltage was observed at 1.320V.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Features:

Test System

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode with a 120mm fan placed on top of them to keep them cool except for the Core i7 system that was run in triple channel. The EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB used NVIDIA ForceWare 169.28 video card drivers and the. The LGA 775 test system used the ASUS P5E3 motherboard using BIOS version 1201 and the LGA 1366 test system used the ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard with BIOS v8004. The AMD Phenom testing was done on the MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard with BIOS v1.5b5 installed along with ATI system driver version 8.50. The AMD Athlon test system was an MSI DKA790GX Platinum AMD 790GX AM2+ Motherboard with a beta BIOS v1.4 for Phenom II processors that is unrealesed.

Memory Settings:

Here is the Intel LGA 1366 Test platform:

The Intel Core i7 Test System

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

See Above

Motherboard

ASUS P6T Deluxe

Memory

6GB Corsair DDR3 1600MHz

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Thermaltake BigWater 760i

Power Supply

Corsair HX1000W

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Here is the Intel LGA 775 Test platform:

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

See Above

Motherboard

ASUS P5E3 Deluxe

Memory

4GB Corsair DDR3 1800C7

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Here is the Intel Skulltrail Test platform:

Skulltrail Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

2x Intel Core 2 QX9775

Motherboard

Intel D5400XS 

Memory

4GB Micron 800MHz FB-DIMM

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

The AMD Phenom X4 9950 Processor Test System

Here is the AMD Phenom Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

All AM2 and AM2+ CPUs

Motherboard

MSI K9A2 Platinum

Memory

4GB OCZ Flex PC2-6400

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

The AMD Phenom X4 9950 Processor Test System

Here is the AMD Athlon Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Athlon 5050e and 7750

Motherboard

MSI DKA790GX Platinum

Memory

Corsair Dominator 4GB PC2-9136

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Sandra 2009 SP2 Memory Bandwidth

Sisoft; Sandra 2009 SP2:

Sisoftware Sandra 2009

The Sisoft Sandra 2009 benchmark utility just came out recently and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. With Sandra 2009 you can now easily compare the performance of the tested device with its speed and its (published) power (TDP)! Sandra 2009 SP2 also has SSE4 (Intel) and SSE4A (AMD) benchmark code-paths, which is great for those of you testing next-generation AMD & Intel chips.

Sandra 2009 SP2 Benchmark Scores

Results: Sandra 2009 SP2 shows that the Intel Core i7 processors blow away the competion thanks to the new triple-channel memory design being used.  The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e did fairly well and was right where we expected it to be for a DDR2 800MHz kit of memory running 5-5-5-15 1T timings at 742MHz. The AMD Athlon X2 7750 had about 450MB more throughput, which is due partly to the fact it was running at a true 800MHz and that the processor is 100MHz faster.

Photodex ProShow Gold 3.2

ProShow Gold allows the user to combine photos, videos and music to create spectacular slide shows. The software provides the capability to share memories with friends and family on DVD, PC and the Web. ProShow Gold brings still photos to life by adding motion effects like pan, zoom, and rotate. The user can also add captions to a photo or video and choose from over 280 transition effects.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmark Settings

The workload we are using takes 29 high resolution jpeg photos and converts them to an mpeg2, widescreen DVD quality, 3min 9sec slideshow video file. The input photos are in 3872x2592 resolution and total about 170MB in size.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmarking

ProShow Gold 3.2 lets you share your slide shows in virtually any format and on any device. You can upload your shows directly to YouTube or choose from over 20 devices to directly output to including the iPod, Blackberry, ZuneTM and more. Not bad for software that runs under $70 and is optimized for eight-cores! Our benchmark testing wasn't at 100% load the entire time, but averaged around 95% during the testing period.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Photodex Proshow software showed that having more cache and a slightly higher clock speed is that way to go and was 11% or 30 seconds fastr than the AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e. The trusty AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ was staying right with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e, which is expected as they are both 2.6GHz parts.

Sony Vegas 8.0b

The Vegas Pro collection combines Vegas Pro 8, DVD Architect Pro 4.5, and Dolby Digital AC-3 encoding software to offer an integrated environment for all phases of professional video, audio, DVD, and broadcast production. These tools let you edit and process DV, AVCHD, HDV, SD/HD-SDI, and all XDCAM formats in real time, fine-tune audio with precision, and author surround sound, dual-layer DVDs. Vegas Pro software also supports 24p, HD and HDV editing, which is what we are going to look at in this benchmark.

Sony Vegas Benchmarking

The Sony Vegas 8.0b workload that we are using takes a series of short movie and audio files and creates a single video that incorporated special effects and transitions. It uses a MainConcept HDV encoding profile to render the 24p widescreen video clip at a resolution of 1440x1080x32.

Sony Vegas Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Running our custom Sony Vegas 8.0b benchmark showed a huge difference in performance betwen the AMD Athlon X2 7750 and the 5050e.  The difference is so large that one would not be able to guess that there is only a $16 difference between the price of the two processors.  The Kuma core used on the Athlon X2 7750 with the larger cache and faster HyperTransport 3.0 bus is the way to go for movie and video editing.

Microsoft Excel 2007

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 is a powerful and widely used tool with which you can create and format spreadsheets, and analyze and share information to make more informed decisions. It allows you to import, organize and explore massive data sets within spreadsheets and then communicate your analysis with professional-looking charts. Excel 2007 also provides tools to “see” important trends and find exceptions in your data. Legit Reviews has two benchmarking tests that we do on Microsoft Office Excel 2007.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Testing

The first workload executes approximately 28,000 sets of calculations using the most common calculations and functions found in Excel. These include common arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, division, rounding and square root. It also includes common statistical analysis functions such as Max, Min, Median and Average. The calculations are performed after a spreadsheet with a large dataset is updated with new values and must re-calculate many data points. The input file is the 6.2 MB spreadsheet seen above.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Lots of people use Microsoft Office at work and home, so this is an important test for many of our readers. Many people don't run 28,000 sets of calculations at once, but if you do the CPU will determine how fast the task is completed. The 2.7GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 processor had a big performance boost over the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and 5050e processors that both operate at 2.6GHz.

The Black-Scholes model is used in our second Excel test to calculate a theoretical call and put price using the five key determinants of an option's price: stock price, strike price, volatility, time to expiration, and short-term (risk free) interest rate.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Testing

This workload calculates the European Put and Call option valuation for Black-Scholes option pricing using Monte Carlo simulation. It simulates the calculations performed when a spreadsheet with input parameters is updated and must recalculate the option valuation. In this scenario we execute approximately 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation. In addition, the workload uses Excel lookup functions to compare the put price from the model with the historical market price for 50,000 rows to understand the convergence. The input file is a 70.1 MB spreadsheet and with 10 times the calculations of the first test, this one should take a bit longer to complete.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: With 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation taking place in this benchmark it takes all the processors a bit longer to finish as it puts a good load on the system.  The AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 fell behind in this test and it is the only benchmark that we noticed the Athlon 64 X2 7750 came behind either the Athlon 64 X2 5050e and the 5000+ processors. We restarted the system and ran the benchmark three times after each restart on both the 5000+ and 7750 processors and the results were the same, so we ran with it.

Cinebench R9.5

MAXON; CINEBENCH 9.5:

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer's performance in everyday use. Especially a system's CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmarking

Cinebench 9.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Cinebench 9.5 was tested in both 64-bit and 32-bit, which resulted in some minor performance differences as seen above. The AMD Athlon X2 7750 was within a second of the Intel E6750 and E7200 dual-core processors which is nice to see.

Cinebench R10

MAXON; CINEBENCH R10:

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 10 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer's performance in everyday use. Especially a system's CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). The test procedure consists of two main components: The first test sequence is dedicated to the computer's main processor. A 3D scene file is used to render a photo reaslistic image. The scene makes use of various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders. In the first run, the benchmark only uses one CPU (or CPU core), to ascertain a reference value. On machines that have multiple CPUs or CPU cores, and also on those who simulate multiple CPUs (via HyperThreading or similar technolgies), MAXON CINEBENCH will run a second test using all available CPU power. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Cinebench 10

Cinebench R10 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench R10 Results

Results: Running Cinebench R10 in 64-bit mode showed a significant improvement in performance on all of the processors. The AMD Athlon X2 7750 blew past the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and 5050e with a run in 64-bit, but at 32-bit the results were closer.

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25:

The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is an high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file, and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.

The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which, in a nutshell, allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend on purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 beta 25, which is the most recent version available.  The benchmark used all available cores to complete the render.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Benchmark Results: Looking at POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 25, the AMD Athlon X2 7750 processor was 16 seconds of 5% faster than the Athlon 64 X2 5050e.

POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing

Legit Reviews was e-mailed by one of the developers over at POV-Ray to see if LR could include real-time raytracing in our performance analysis, and we were more than happy to include the data in our testing. 

E-Mail From POV-Ray -- I thought I might ping you about an experimental feature we've added to the POV-Ray SMP beta: real-time raytracing. It's mostly useful to folks who have multi-core systems and in fact is something that I've wanted to do for years but the hardware just wasn't there (at least not in the consumer price range). It works best on a kentsfield or later, but a core 2 duo should be sufficient if you don't mind sub-10fps frame rates.

If you want to try it out it please feel free to grab it from:  http://www.povray.org/beta/rtr/

POV-Ray real-time raytracing

This experimental software by POV-Ray was a welcomed addition to our testing and was able to spread the work load across all the cores in even our eight core test system as seen above.

POV Ray RTR Benchmark Chart

Results: POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing is a great benchmark that we love to use on Legit Reviews and it does a great job at showing how performance scales with CPU cores. The Athlon X2 7750 was nearly 2FPS faster than the Athlon 64 X2 5050e, which is ~29% more performance.

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark 2006

3DMark06

Futuremark's 3DMark06 has a built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded DirectX gaming metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems. This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are processed with a software renderer that is dependent on the host CPU's performance. Calculations that are normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the CPU for processing and rendering. The frame-rate generated in each test is used to determine the final score.

Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results

Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The CPU test in 3DMark 2006 shows exactly what nearly all the other tests showed so far in this review, the Athlon 64 X2 7750 leads the way!

Temperatures

Temperature

Temperature Testing

We got our hands on several brand new retail boxed heat sinks with factory applied thermal compound, so here are some temperature numbers using retail boxed heat sinks and thermal interface material.

AMD OverDrive 2.14

AMD OverDrive seems like a great idea, but ever time we try to use it the features we want don't work.  The temperature readings with both the AMD Athlon X2 7750 and 5050e didn't show up in AMD OverDrive 2.14, so we used MSI Core Center.

MSI Temperature Utility

The MSI Dual CoreCenter Utility was able to read the temperature from both the AMD Athlon X2 7750 and 5050e with no problems at all. Let's take a look at idle and load temperatures using the retail box cooling solution.

MSI Temperature Utility

AMD's Cool'n'Quiet technology was disabled for temperature testing as we wanted to see how each processor would do without it. No big shock with the temperature testing results as the Athlon X2 5050e was 8C cooler at both load and idle. To get the idle temperatures the system sat on the desktop for 30 minutes and then at to get load we ran Prime 95 and took the highest temperature of the run.

Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds. The systems ran with the power supplies, case fan, video card and hard drive model. To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement. For load measurements, POV-Ray 3.7 was run on all cores to make sure each and every processor was at 100% load. All of the systems used identical hardware minus the motherboard and processor. It should be noted that the Core i7 processors used a Thermaltake BigWater 760i water cooler and the rest of the systems used a Corsair Nautilus 500 water cooler as Corsair doesn't currently offer an Intel Core i7 water block retention plate.

Power Consumption Results

Results:The AMD Athlon X2 5050e consumed 109W at idle and 152W at load with AMD Cool'n'Quiet enabled and 115W at idle and 152W at load with Cool'n'Quiet disabled.  With the Corsair Nautilus 500 Water Cooler being used with Cool'n'Quiet the idle reading was 120W with a load of 160W. 

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 consumed 129W at idle and 190W at load with AMD Cool'n'Quiet enabled and 145W at idle and 189W at load with Cool'n'Quiet disabled. With the Corsair Nautilus 500 Water Cooler being used with Cool'n'Quiet the idle reading was 141W with a load of 204W. 

Overclocking

You can't review a processor without overclocking so lets take the AMD Athlon X3 7750 and see what it can do on the retail boxed heat sink.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Processor CPU-Z

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 starts out life at 2.7GHz, but that doesn't mean you can't increase the bus speed and raise the multiplier on this unlocked Black Edition processor.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Processor Overclocking

Without touching the voltage on the AMD Athlon X2 7750 the multiplier was increased from 13.5 to 15.5 and the system posted and was 100% stable. This is an overclock of 400MHz, which is great for no voltage increase on the factory heat sink.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Processor Overclocking

Bumping up the multiplier to 16 resulted into a 3.2GHz core speed and a fully stable system with the CPU voltage remaining untouched.  Any multiplier higher than 16 caused the system to blue screen when Windows Vista was loading, so it is time to bump up the voltage and see where this processor tops out.

AMD Athlon X2 7750 Processor Overclocking

With the voltage set to 1.475V in the BIOS and the bus speed increased from 200MHz to 207MHz the  AMD Athlon X2 7750 processor was able to break the 3.3GHz mark with ease.  Not bad for what little effort it took to hit 3.3GHz! This is an overclock of 600MHz, which woke up the 2.7GHz processor!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Both the AMD Athlon X2 5050e and the Athlon X2 7750 processors serve a place in today's market, but the roles for the two processors are clear as night and day.  The AMD Athlon X2 5050e is perfect for those wanting to build a system that uses low power and has a quiet cooling solution. The thermal properties on the Athlon X2 5050e were amazing and the fact that the processor runs at just 41C on the factory heat sink was most impressive. With an aftermarket cooler and a case with good airflow the Athlon 5050e could easily be air cooled, which is amazing for a processor running 2.6GHz. The AMD Athlon X2 5050e felt fast on the desktop and you wouldn't know it was energy efficient if someone didn't tell you.

Image Description

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 breaths much needed new life into AMD's dual-core processor series that hasn't seen any significant changed since the Brisbane cores came out back in back in December 2006.  The new Kuma core brings many significant features to the table, but the most obvious are the larger cache sizes and the faster HyperTransport 3.0 bus. The performance results speak for themselves and the AMD Athlon X2 7750 is a very fast dual-core part that was able to keep up with the Intel Core 2 dual-core processors we tested it against. If only AMD could have come out with these Kuma (K10) cores a year ago they would have given many of the Intel dual-core processors a run, but obviously that did not happen.

When it comes to pricing, the AMD Athlon X2 7750 is just $79 and that is a good thing for in this economy the lower the price, the better the chances of selling it. The AMD Athlon X2 5050e on the other hand is even less expensive at just $61 with today's price drops.  That makes its cost ~30% less than the AMD Athlon X2 7750 and the easy choice for those going green or looking to built a silent system.


Legit Bottom Line: AMD's Brisbane based dual-core processors have been around for two years and have finally been replaced by the newer Kuma core that is derived from the Phenom series of processors.