Phenom: AMD unveils quad-core brand for desktop PC

  • Sunnyvale (CA) – AMD confirmed the brand name for its next generation dual- and quad-core desktop processors: Non disclosure agreements, which prevented us from mentioning the brand of the CPUs until today have expired and we can begin using the real name: Phenom.

    AMD has not released much information today, but at least we can put a little more meat on the bare bones. AMD will call its new desktop processors, based on the “Stars” core, “Phenom.” Ever since the demise of the K6 processors, AMD has relied on brand names with implicit connotations – and Phenom is no exception: Our first guess was that the name was derived from “phenomenon”. Well, we were wrong: AMD representatives told us that the word “phenomenal” is the source of the new processor’s brand.

    With the introduction of the new brand, AMD will drop the “64” add-on to all of its processors. Phenom processors will immediately be positioned on the high-end and mainstream of AMD’s desktop processor portfolio and push down the Athlon X2 into the lower-end mainstream. The (single-core) Athlon brand is gone; the Sempron (single-core) will stay for a while and continue to compete with Intel’s Celeron. New Semprons scheduled for Q3 include 35 watt versions of the 3800+, 3600+, 3500+ and 3400+, all of which will be based on the 65 nm shrink (“Sparta”) of the current 90 nm “Manila” core.

    Phenom processors will arrive in three flavors – as dual-core Phenom X2 previously code-named “Kuma”), as quad-core Phenom X4 and as enthusiast model Phenom FX. AMD did not reveal any specifications besides the information that the architecture of Phenom is based on the “Barcelona” quad-core server CPU, however, sources indicated that the quad-core CPUs will run at clock speeds between 2.7 and 2.9 GHz and the dual-cores between 2.0 and 2.9 GHz. Power consumption should remain in the familiar range between 89 watts for the X2 versions and 125 watts for the quad-cores. AMD product manager Ian McNaughton told TG Daily that the platform will support DDR2-1066 memory and that AMD does not intend to switch to DDR3 “until OEMs are asking for it.”

    The main task of Phenom is to put AMD back on the board for upper mainstream and enthusiast processors – a market the company has completely lost over the last six to nine months to Intel. The most expensive Athlon X2 processor (6000+) currently sells for a tray price of $229, less than one fourth of what the company charged for its fastest X2 processor at the family’s introduction almost exactly two years ago.

    AMD declined to comment when Phenom will launch. However, we know that Barcelona will lead the charge with an early Q3 introduction. We expect the company to stay with its previous product introduction strategy and introduce the desktop part with 60 to 90 days of the server CPU launch. Assumed that Barcelona will surface early in Q3, Phenom series could become available in volume sometime in August or September – which should give the CPU ample opportunity to have a substantial presence during the Christmas shopping season.