Does AMD's Competitive Future Look Bright?

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
When AMD released their Phenom II processors during CES, reviewers all over exclaimed just how great they were. Even though they didn't compare to Core i7, or even beat out Core 2 in all tests, the fact that AMD came that close was nice enough, since their previous products were a bit lacking, and riddled with bad press through their lifetime. Dollar for dollar, AMD's processors wouldn't be someone's first choice, but AMD has been doing a great job of remaining price-competitive, and that's been extremely important. (For our review of AMD's most-recent AM3 processors, you can click the image below.)

So with AMD back in action with nicely-performing products, how does their future look? According to Ars Technica, it's really hard to say, but it's not looking that great right now. To help put things into perspective, Joel Hruska first found a stable overclock on the Phenom II 940 (4.2GHz) and then compared it to the Core 2 Quad QX9650 (3.0GHz) and also the Core i7-920 (2.66GHz) and i7-965 EE (3.20GHz). On paper, it looks like one should obliterate the rest, but that's not the case.

In some tests, the majorly overclocked Phenom II couldn't even outpace the i7-920, which isn't such a surprise given Intel's optimizations for certain workloads (like multi-media and math algorithms), but it's still a troubling to see. The goal of the article was to show that even if AMD released new higher-clocked parts, it's not going to do them much good. AMD will need to deliver worthwhile architecture upgrades in order to a) surpass Core 2 performance and b) at least come close to Core i7 performance. Given the state that AMD's been in lately, that's going to be a difficult thing to pull off, as an ongoing discussion in our forums make note of.

It's far from impossible for AMD to strike back with a product that competes with Core-i7, but given the economy and the major changes constantly moving within the company, it's going to prove an extreme challenge.

Deneb's comparative performance against the Core i7-965 and Core i7-920, however, is rather troubling. Even at 4.2GHz and with an IMC running at 2.53GHz (1120MHz memory clock), Deneb doesn't always outperform Intel's lower-end, 2.67GHz solution, much less the top-end i7-965. It's true that the i7-965 is a $1,000 part today, but a Deneb clocked at the rates we tested (if such a thing existed for the commercial market) would run at least $1K as well.

Source: Ars Technica