AMD has had a rocky start to its latest architectural update. K10 has had its major downs, suffering the TLB bug in the B1 and B2 stepping cores. When they were first introduced to market, they were the plague CPU; as in, every one avoided them like the plague! - It took many months for AMD to write this problem out, but B3 promised a fix and eventually delivered.
Phenom really didn't deliver what AMD was hoping, in fact it was clock for clock well behind the 8 ball compared to Intel's Core 2 Duo. While Phenom wasn't able to compete on the enthusiast platform, AMD has kept things interesting with its prices, trying to undercut Intel at every chance they can, and quite rightly so, a quad-core Phenom X4 can be had for almost nothing these days.
While it wasn't the success that AMD really wanted, it wasn't a monumental failure; Phenom delivers more processing power per core than a similarly clocked K8 processor, which is impressive none the less.
Today we have been sent the latest update to the Athlon 64 family in the way of the Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition clocked at 2.7GHz and unlocked.
Read on as we take a look how it performs.
The New Recruit
Athlon 64 X2 7750 in Detail
First off we should state that while the 7750 carries the Athlon name, it is not based around the K8 architecture, AMD is slowly phasing out the K8 architecture in favour of the K10, and this is evident with the new CPU being released today.
AMD is not only releasing the Athlon X2 7750 BE (Black Edition) which we are looking at here, but also the Athlon X2 7550, with the difference being is that it is clocked at 2.5GHz - 200MHz slower than the BE, oh and not unlocked.
From the CPU-Z screenshot you can see that that design is based around a 64nm process codenamed Kuma. Kuma is actually a cut down version of the AMD Phenom processors that are currently out. First off it's limited to a dual-core offering, which is kind of evident by the X2 part in the name.
Sharing the lower clocked Phenom's specs the 7750 uses a 1.8GHz HT link, which also limits the integrated Northbridge's frequency to 1.8GHz. Thanks to the K10 architecture the new Athlon gets official HT3.0 specs allowing it to communicate with the external Northbridge at higher speeds and K8 based Athlon's cache memory has also changed thanks to the K10 architecture improvements. First off the L2 cache has been dropped to 512K per core (1MB total CPU L2 cache) however a 2MB shared L3 cache has been used - it is the same size that all Phenom CPU's share giving it extra memory storage on the CPU.
The CPU package hasn't changed compared to the older Athlon's. We have shot a Core 2 Quad 9770 CPU for reference. AMD has designed the 7750 to be a drop in replacement for AM2/AM2+ motherboards that support 95 watt or higher TDP.
Since the CPU is drop in replacement AMD has gone with using the older pin arrangement compared to Intel's LGA design that has been used since the Pentium 4 600 series CPU. Hopefully AM3 CPU's will start to use the LGA design like the newer Opteron's are starting to use.
For a full rundown on the K10 architecture that the AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 uses, please visit our Phenom X4 review here.
Test System Setup and Everest
Hard Disk: Intel X28 SSD 80GB (Supplied by Intel)
Graphics Card: GIGABYTE 9800GX2 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Cooling: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista X64 SP1
Drivers: Intel INF 184.108.40.2068, Forceware 180.24
Today we are using an unnamed board which is currently under NDA for out tests based around the AMD 790GX chipset, so we haven't provided any pictures of the board.
We used this board as AMD is pushing the 790GX chipset for its mainstream users. Today we have the Phenom X4, X3, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme offerings on the table to see just how well the Athlon 7750 Black Edition can handle itself.
EVEREST Ultimate Edition
Version and / or Patch Used: 2006
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
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EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems.
On the synthetic side of things we can see that AMD's Phenom core based Athlon falls a fair bit behind on the CPU performance - however its memory performance is right on the money for the new K10 architecture.
Benchmarks - SiSoft Sandra
Version and / or Patch Used: 2009
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.uk
Product Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=en
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SiSoft Sandra (System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Sandra shows similar results for the Athlon 64 X2 7750. On the CPU's raw power it still isn't able to keep up with the Core 2 Duo let alone the Core 2 Extreme and still falls short of the Phenom X3 and X4. It doesn't miss too much out on memory bandwidth thanks to its on CPU memory core.
Benchmarks - Super PI
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5 Mod
Developer Homepage: http://pw1.netcom.com/~hjsmith/Pi/Super_Pi.html
Product Homepage: http://pw1.netcom.com/~hjsmith/Pi/Super_Pi.html
Developed by some folks from the University of Tokyo (yes, Japan), Super PI is a small utility that does just as the name implies. It figures PI to a set number of decimal places. Since PI is an infinite number to the right of the decimal point, the utility measures the time it takes to figure a set number of places. It runs the calculations a set number of times and gives a time for the completion of the task. This is a simple and effective way to measure the raw number crunching power of the processor being used to compile the results.
Moving into raw CPU calculations we see that the Phenom core based Athlon 64 can't quite match the Core 2 Duo E8500 however it's still a good score for a CPU only pulling 2.7GHz compared to over 3GHz on the C2D E8500.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage
Version and / or Patch Used: 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//
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PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
Moving into PCMark Vantage, while synthetic we get a general idea on how well the CPU will perform under the Windows environment. The Core 2 Duo manages to pull well ahead of all the K10 CPU's.
Benchmarks - SYSmark 2007 Preview
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04
Developer Homepage: http://www.bapco.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.bapco.com/products/sysmark2007preview/>
SYSmark 2007 Preview is the latest version of the premier performance metric that measures and compares PC performance based on real world applications.
SYSmark 2007 Preview extends the SYSmark family, which has been widely accepted by IT Managers, PC OEMs, press and analysts worldwide to support Windows Vista.
SYSmark 2007 Preview allows users to directly compare platforms based on Windows Vista to those based on Windows XP Professional and Home.
The new release also incorporates numerous new features and enhancements such as an improved GUI allowing streamlined start-up and run along with a heads-up-display (HUD) and automated error reporting.
SYSmark 2007 Preview is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications.
Moving along to a real world benchmark we see that the 7750 manages to almost equal up the Phenom X3 however it's not even in the same league as the E8500 let alone the 9770.
Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements 4
Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.adobe.com
Product Homepage: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/
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Our test with Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 is performed with a raw two hour AVI file. It is then compressed into DivX format using the latest version codec. We measure the time it takes to encode.
In real world application tests we see that the Athlon X2 7750 manages good performance, it almost matches up the X3 however AMD's weak point has always been the media encoding tests and Intel really pushes its CPU's here.
Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage
Version and / or Patch Used: 101
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Gaming benchmarks now and our first is the Synthetic variety in the form of 3DMark Vantage. Here thanks to the engine that Futurmark uses we see AMD fall quite a bit behind even its X3 brother despite only losing one core.
Benchmarks - Crysis
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.
Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.
Real world gaming is done through Crysis, and this is more of a real evaluation of the CPU's performance. Here we see that the 7750 manages to play Crysis but it's still not able to equal the Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme, though it doesn't lag too far behind the Phenom X3.
It seems that AMD may finally be putting the K8 to bed, and we can only hope so, there really isn't a need for two architectures on the same platform.
Yes, Intel has Core 2 and Core i7 however they are totally different architectures, K8 and K10 are drop in replacements, and with AMD already lowering the price of Phenom cores to become more competitive compared to Intel, K8 really doesn't seem so attractive.
AMD's finally introduced the dual-core Phenom they were promising since the launch of the X3, it may not have the Phenom name, but a rose by any other name is still as sweet.
AMD has simply given the 7000 series the Athlon name while using only two cores of the Phenom variety clocking them with slower Northbridge speeds. It's a definite winner, especially since they now support DDR2-1066 memory using the Phenom specs along with Hyper Transport 3.0, AMD really has pulled its socks up, but is it too late?
Especially with the release of the 45nm processor imminent, AMD may be only putting in a stop gap CPU.
As far as pricing goes, AMD expect the Athlon X2 7750 BE to retail for about $79 USD, but that hasn't been confirmed yet. If so, it's going to make this a rather attractive option for users on a budget where massive performance isn't of all importance. If the pricing information we were given is accurate, it will make this new entry level processor from AMD well cheaper than the cheapest Core 2 Duo from Intel.
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