REVIEW: AMD's Athlon II - The New low power Dual core.

Discussion in 'AMD x86 CPUs and chipsets' started by mAJORD, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    [​IMG]



    So, it's 2009 and this is AMD's first Native Dual core CPU since the K8 based Athlon X2 was released in 2005 (not counting "griffin" which was a K8 with Split plane power and asyncronous memory controller), and some people would argue that this is the CPU AMD should have released (on 65nm) 2 years ago..

    Sure it would still be a bit slower clock/clock, but As these tests have shown the K10 uARCH in a Dual-core format scales very well frequency wise, and is very efficient.


    But alas, Phenom has been and gone, Phenom II is here, Quad cores are all that's high end and this CPU is now a budget ($129 at MSY) offering, competing with the likes of the E5xxx series.. So no this is not a ground breaker, nor is it a competitor for the 8xxx series..

    That's not a bad thing though, and HTPCers, or those disatsified with the limited and outdated low power (under 65watt) offerings should be happy, as this CPU has increased AMD's dual core performance/Watt by a big amount, and finally brought proper competition int he low end with Intel.

    This also means a competitive, low power notebook platform is just around the corner (Q3 this year - known as Tigris) based on these very CPUs.


    In a slightly different corner of the room, The PHenom II 550 has also launched( http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=784302) , and in many ways is more exciting performance wise (6Mb L3 cache, the potential to be unlocked to 4 cores), it is an 80watt TDP part due to its cut-down quad core nature, and large L3 Cache, So this CPU appeals to a slightly different market. I'll try and get hold of one shortly to see how much faster IT is.


    So anyway, I'll cut to a semi conclusion straight away. The following results show:

    *A performance/watt increase of somewhere over 30% compared to standard bin Brisbane cores..

    *A varying IPC increase in the 5-15% range

    *As a standard bin CPU.. 3Ghz clock speed with power consumption approaching 45watt TDP levels. (would be extremely close, wish I had a 4850/5050e to compare)



    What's in Regor:


    At its core is the 2nd gen 45nm K10 microarchitecture, in the same form as the current PHenom II series..

    Like in the old X2, the two cores have their own L1 Cache, and L2 Cache, of 64KB and 1MB respectivly (Yes, a larger L2 than PHenom II). They do not however have the shared L3 on top of that.

    Specifications:

    Cores: 2 physical
    UArCH: K10.5
    Socket: AM3 / AM2+
    L2 Cache: 2x 1MB
    L3 Cache: Nil

    Here's an Artists impression (I'm no artist actually but I don't know any other term ;) ) did some time ago nect to Phenom II / Deneb.

    Deneb/Shanghai (6MB L3, Quad core): [​IMG] Regor (dual core)[​IMG]

    And with the lid off compared to what it replaces, the 65nm K8 Brisbane core..

    [​IMG]

    for the Record, Die sizes are as follows:

    Brisbane 65nm 512kb L2: 127mm2
    Regor 45nm 1Mb L2: 117mm2


    The New Heatsink:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see.. it's tiny. Basically a Cut down version of the taller Phenom II 80w and 95w heatsinks.
    This will be welcome to those using small formfactor cases. Despite its size, power consumption is well in check, and temp's stay very reasonable.




    So How does it perform?


    For the following comparison, I chose to put it straght up against what it replaces, in complete out-of-the-box stock form, rather than try to compare the K10 uARCH with extreme acuracy, as it's of no interest to most..

    This means..

    *the IMC/NB speed remains at 2000Mhz (a power saving feature of the Split clock design, but has some memory bandwidth implications)
    * at 3Ghz and 3.1Ghz, the 6000+ models Memory runs slightly below 400Mhz (DDR2-800)

    Unfortunatly, also I do not have an E5400 on hand, and therefore can't compare here either. Other websites will of course follow up with reviews.. so i'll leave such comparisons up to others. These results should interest those looking to upgrade CPU's though, ESPECIALLY those with SFF HTPCs etc.
    System SEtup:

    CPUs:

    AMD Athlon64 X2 6000+. 3.0Ghz, 90nm F3, 125watt 2x1MB L2
    AMD Athlon X2 6000+. 3.1Ghz 65nm G2, 89watt 2x512kb L2
    AMD Athlon II X2 250. 3.0Ghz 45nm, 65watt 2x1MB L2

    Motherboard:
    Gigabyte GA-MA770-US3
    RAM:
    2x1GB Crucial Ballistix @ DDR2-800 5-5-5-18
    Video: ATI HD4890 OC @ 950/1020

    HDD: SEagate 320GB 7200.1
    PSU: Seasonic 550w


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    In a nutshell, the K10 outperforms K8 clock/clock in a non consistent way, just as we also saw with the Quad cores. Anywhere from a few %, up to 20%clock/clock (with some rare exceptions even higher.

    The Strong points are:

    Gaming performance.. the 3dMark score was quite CPU limited with the overclocked HD4890.. Athlon II gave a healthy 13% higher overall Score, but what's not listed in the graphs is the CPU-limited SM2 Score was 18% higher than Windsor

    Media Encoding: The hefty SSE enhancments in K10 show up here, X264 encoding was some 15% faster clock/clock.

    Scientific, and benchmarks allready healthy on K8 show little improvment.


    Power Consumption.

    for these tests I swapped the Video card for a 2400pro, to give more realistic readings. A 740 ro 780G mobo would have been good, but none free at the moment.

    Total System Consumption, measured at the wall​

    [​IMG]


    thanks to the healthy 45nm process, (MUCH healthier than 65nm ever was), Power consumption has taken a big dive.

    In a nutshell, at 3Ghz, Regor not only outperforms the fastest 65nm K8, but uses a sizeable amount less power, and sits in the 65watt TDP.





    Overclocking:

    OCing was a pleasent suprise. Even on the tiny Heatsink..

    Stock Voltage, Stock Heatsink.

    [​IMG]


    The CPU hit close to 3.6Ghz before hitting stability problems. Backing off a bit for a quick stablity run.. 20Min Orthos@ 3.57Ghz Load temp: 40c (actual 50c est)

    3.5Ghz on this chip would be a safe bet..

    +0.125v (1.475) , Noctua 120mm Dual Fan.


    Hoping for much more on a larger heatsink, there was a good deal more headroom, but this chip hit a bit of a wall around the 3.8-3.9ghz mark.. Adding more voltage had not much effect, so it's best not to push it.

    After such good results @ stock I'd hoped 4Ghz would be possible but whilst it would probably validate fine, It wasn't benchmark stable, so at this pt don't expect it.. If you want big clocks with big cooling, the Phenom II woudl be a better bet as power consumption differences will become minimal..

    3.844Ghz benchable:

    [​IMG]





    Conclusion:

    All in all, this CPU is a much welcomed release.. The old K8 has been the only option for those wanting an AMD based low power sollution, and whilst the popular 4850 and 5050e's have "done the job" in recent times they've been left behind by Intels low end options, and really Didn't do the excellent 780G/790G justice.
    The Same has applied for Laptops, with Griffin failing to impress

    Thankfully though, those times are over, the big hole in the bottom end is now filled, and AMD now have an economical to produce dual core to hit the bottom end +portable market with. For a company struggling, has to be a good thing :Paranoid: :cool:


    Update:
    UnderClocking


    Notes etc:

    Power measured @ the wall. PSU is a 550w S12+ with PFC, so power readings should be reasonably accurate..

    NO CPU reading taken as a reference, obviously it's not to be taken TOO seriously as the memory, chipset at the least will probably be in a lower power state with no CPU, but it at least gives a worst case idea.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  2. Gierke

    Gierke Member

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    Sounds awesome.

    If I wasn't quite so cash strapped I go for one of these over a 5200+ X2 for my new low power box. However performance isn't an issue so it will do.

    Good to see AMD competitive again in multiple market segments.
     
  3. cbjaust

    cbjaust Member

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    I would love to see a real apples to apples comparison with Windsor where you get the Core Clocks the same, the NB on the Regor the same as the Core and RAM Frequency the same. HT manipulated to get the appropriate numbers and ignore HTT (or leave it stock for the Regor and have it as high as you can for Windsor)

    Nice work! :thumbup:

    Cheers
     
  4. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Awesome review! Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. Oblong Cheese

    Oblong Cheese Member

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    I might now have a reason to buy an AMD-based HTPC - thanks for the review.
     
  6. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Official reviews should be out soon. Then we will see how performance / power stacks up against the intel range of E5x cpus...
     
  7. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

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    What's the noise level like from the stock heatsink?
     
  8. OP
    OP
    mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    Much quieter than their previous heatsinks.

    The fan is mounted a bit above the heatsink, thus doesn't suffer the whining of the older designs.
     
  9. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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  10. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

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    Sounds like a great HTPC CPU then. Only a little bit hotter than the 4850e, and a fair bit more powerful.
     
  11. Mensuri

    Mensuri Member

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    theres a good comparison on xbitlabs as well,

    seems like a 550 plus a 4770 shouldmake for an inexpensive yet reasonabley capable little gaming system - hopefully by the time my tax gets back teh 4770 will be back in stock:)
     
  12. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    What I am waiting for is a ocing scaling comparison with intel. The E7200 runs at 2.5 GHz, wheras the AMD run at 3 GHz.

    EDIT: Reading the xbitlabs article now :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  13. OP
    OP
    mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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  14. OP
    OP
    mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    be a tad weary of OCing reviews on these sites. As usual they fail to OC the NBclock which as you increase the cpu freq to those levels results in noticable performance scaling problems for any memory intensive apps, incl games etc...

    infact you can get performance scaling to be higher than the CPU core clock % by doing so.. eg.

    3ghz - 3.7ghz core = 23% core overclock

    2ghz to 2.8ghz NB = 40% NB OC.

    will result in either more linear than normal perf scalign or "postive' scaling in some instnaces.
     
  15. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    ot that familiar with AMD. I might get the X2 3.1 GHz as it has the unlocked multiplier.

    Just waiting for asrock to release a new BIOS.

    HD4770 looks like a good match if I can get one :)
     
  16. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Just read the Anandtech article.

    There is a C&C bug and AMD will fix this with a BIOS update. So for best performance make sure you disable C&C in BIOS...
     
  17. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Awesome for Anandtech to include a Pentium Extreme Edition cpu :) Blast from the past and puts the performance of all these new chips into perspective...
     
  18. stmok

    stmok Member

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    C&C bug? Command and Conquer? :)

    You mean CnQ => Cool'n'Quiet.
     
  19. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    LOL yea I mant CnQ :)
     
  20. rockuman_ex

    rockuman_ex Member

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    what's the best mobo to suit this new cpu?

    to be specific, what's the best htpc mobo to suit this cpu? (eg. onboard HDMI, etc)?
     

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