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AMD Athlon II Vs Phenom II

August 27th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


AMD’s Athlon II quad core processor X4, is essentially a Phenom II X4 processor with the L3 cache removed.

A note on the Cache memory – Cache memory resides inside the processor itself and keeps a copy of the frequently used memory in the Cache. The Cache memory is significantly faster than the external (like the DDR3) memory this leads to improved performance.

Why does AMD releases a processor without the L3 Cache – Well, in the production process, some of the processors manufactured have faulty L3 Cache. So there could be two options with the chip manufacturer – they may throw the whole chip away, or, alternatively, disable the cache and sell it as a separate part number with the Cache memory disabled.

Alternatively, the chip manufacturer, may decide to manufacture the chip without the Cache memory, which improves the yield and helps to keep the cost down.

The absence of the Cache memory does effect the performance. We may also like to familiarize ourselves with few terms with Cache – one of them is a Cache Miss and Cache hit. If the processor is looking for a section of memory and a copy of it resides in the Cache – then this is called Cache hit. If the copy of the memory does not reside in the Cache, it is called Cache miss. In the case if Cache miss, the processor has to seek the memory from the external memory which slows down the process.


Several benchmarks results have shown that the performance improvement with the presence of the L3 cache in the phenom II processors is not as great compared to the corresponding cacheless Athlon II parts. A mere 200 MHz clock speed bump may compensate for the drop in the performance due to the absence of the L3 Cache.

The Athlon II parts are the sub $100 parts while the Phenom II parts come in the range of the $150 to $200 ( at the time of writing). So if you are budget conscious, and if you can find a cheaper Athlon II part with processor clock 200 MHz more than the corresponding Phenom II part, the Athlon II part will be a wiser choice.

The range of the clock rates for the Athlon II parts are 1.6 GHz to 3.2 GHz. They come in the dual core and 4 core variations.

Phenom II processors come in the frequency ranges of 2.5 GHz to 3.4 GHz. The Phenom II come in two core, three core, four core and six core variations.

If you are looking for highest speed and top notch performance, the Phenom II is the right part to look for. If you are looking into gaming then you will benefit from the purchasing the Phenom II parts.

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