Although AMD’s Phenom II X6 hexacore monsters have been grabbing most of the headlines, AMD has proved that it’s still catering for the lower-power masses with the introduction of half a dozen new Athlon II processors.
Unlike their Phenom II brothers, the Athlon II chips don’t feature the shared pool of L3 cache between the cores, and instead relies on each core having its own allocation of L2 and L1 cache. Based on the C3 stepping, the new chips take the clock speeds up slightly from their predecessors, while also maintaining a reasonable TDP. In particular, the company’s Energy Efficient processors only consume 45W.
At the top of the pile is the new quad-core 3GHz Athlon II X4 640, which has 2MB of Level 2 cache (4 x 512KB) and a comparatively high TDP of 95W. The chip takes over from the Athlon II X4 635, which was clocked at 2.9GHz. Based on AMD’s Propus core, the chip currently costs £101.80 inc VAT.
Just below that is the new triple-core Athlon II X3 445, which is again clocked 100MHz higher than its predecessor, the 440, at 3.1GHz. The chip has 1.5MB (3x 512KB) of Level 2 cache, and also has a TDP of 95W. Based on AMD’s Regor core, the chip currently costs £72.19 inc VAT.
As you would imagine, another step below this is the dual-core equivalent. The 3.2GHz Athlon II X2 260 picks up from where the 3.1GHz 255 left off. Unlike the X3 and X4 chips, however, the X2 260 has slightly more Level 2 cache per core, packing in a total of 2MB (2x 1MB). Based on AMD’s Rana core, the chip has a TDP of 65W and currently comes in at £63.76 inc VAT.
That’s the standard line of chips out of the way, but perhaps the more interesting CPUs are AMD’s energy efficient chips, which all have a TDP of just 45W, including the quad-core chips. You pay a bit extra for the energy savings, and you lose a fair chunk of clock speed.
However, one of these chips could stil be well worth considering if you’re trying to build a media centre PC, where cramped space and smaller PSUs mean that high-power CPUs aren’t always practical.
The top chip is the quad-core Athlon II X4 610e, which has a clock speed of 2.4GHz. Again, this is 100MHz than the previous 605e, and the 610e also comes with 2MB of Level 2 cache (4x 512KB). Based on AMD’s Propus core, the chip currently costs £119.39 inc VAT.
Another step down the ladder is the triple-core 2.5GHz Athlon II X3 415e. This bucks the trend slightly, by increasing the clock speed by 200MHz over its predecessor, the 405e. Again, the chip has 1.5MB of Level 2 cache, and currently costs £85.08 inc VAT.
Finally, we come to the Athlon II X2 245e; a 2.9GHz chip that replaces the 2.8GHz 240e. Like the Athlon II X2 260, the chip has a larger allocation of 1MB of Level 2 cache per core, making for a total of 2MB. The chip currently costs £64.91 inc VAT.