Now it's time to take a look at the processors themselves. AMD hasn't made any changes to the CPU's appearance apart from the Phenom II name now being lasered into the IHS. The heatspreader is of the same construction that all the previous AM2 processors used; there is no difference here. AMD has also managed to keep the thermal requirements of the Phenom II down as low as possible.
The back of the CPU looks no different than any other AM2 processor out there. That's a good thing considering that this CPU is designed to fit into AM2+ boards in order to use its DDR2 memory capabilities. In total it has 938 pins; AMD has removed two of them as being redundant over the last two years, so AMD now calls this an AM3 938-pin package.
In total, as of today's launch date AMD has a total of five AM3 processors on offer with more to come. Currently they have the following:
Quad Core AM3
Phenom II 805: 2.5GHz Core Clock, 4MB L3 Cache, 0.875v - 1.425v Voltage
Phenom II 810: 2.6GHz Core Clock. 4MB L3 Cache, 0.875v - 1.425v Voltage
Phenom II 910: 2.6GHz Core Clock, 6MB L3 Cache, 0.875v - 1.425v Voltage
Triple Core AM3
Phenom II 710: 2.6GHz Core Clock, 6MB L2 Cache, 0.875v - 1.425v Voltage
Phenom II 720BE: 2.8GHz Core Clock, 6MB L2 Cache, 0.875v - 1.425v Voltage, Unlocked CPU Multiplier for better overclocking
The Lineup Rant
This new lineup of processors will be added to the Phenom II 920 and 940 processor family which is already on the market and this I feel is where AMD makes an obvious mistake. Now, normally I wouldn't consider adding this to an article as it's up to the consumer to make his or her own choice(s), but this is one that just has to be said.
It's just on one month ago that AMD released the AM2 based Phenom II 920 and 940 processors. These are 45nm products that support the AM2+ socket and offer DDR2 support ONLY. The question is, did AMD plan to release AM3 based CPU's so soon after the original Phenom II processors, or was it simply a rushed push along by the marketing team to get a new CPU out? Let's explore this.
If AMD knew that it would be only one month between the release of the Phenom II DDR2 only variants and the Phenom II AM3 processors that carry both DDR2 and DDR3 memory support, why then would you release a whole new product that can only be called inferior just one month earlier? - Anyone who is looking for an upgraded processor for their AM2+ board to extend its life would be silly not to look at the AM3 processor, not one of the new AM2+ based Phenom IIs. Why? - Firstly, it has support for DDR2 so there are no new boards or memory required. When DDR3 comes down in price (which it will now that AMD are also supporting it), the user can go get a new board and DDR3 memory kit and still use the same CPU to save more money.
In my honest opinion, in this instance the Phenom II 920 and 940 are guaranteed a near instant death on the market. Why limit yourself to one type of memory when you can have a CPU that will give you an upgrade path later on down the track?
With all the above said and done, AM3 certainly looks like a decent step forward for AMD with its backward compatibility and much welcomed DDR3 memory support. But sadly we won't be able to give our final thoughts on these new processors until we get our platform up and running once again so that we can fire up our benchmarks and see how things turn out in the real world.
As mentioned earlier on, we're looking forward to getting our full AMD Socket AM3 Performance Analysis online a little later in the week, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.