AMD Phenom II 720 X3 Black Edition
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 03-08-2009
Provided by: New Egg
Pages:
Introduction

AMD has had a busy year thus far. With the launch of the Deneb core they have finally moved to the 45nm process and are breaking in a new socket interface at the same time. These chips, available in quad and tri core configurations just like the original Phenom, have been aptly named the Phenom II. While the first to launch in January were only AM2+ compatible, several more releases in February introduced the newer AM3 lineup. The main difference with AM3 is the introduction of DDR3 support. But rather than require a forklift upgrade, AMD has incorporated both DDR2 and DDR3 memory controllers into the AM3 chips. So just as AM2+ was to AM2, the new chips are also backwards compatible and AM3 processors will work in AM2+ motherboards with just a simple BIOS update.


As with previous generations, the top processor in AMD's lineup bears the BE or "Black Edition" moniker. These chips have been selected for their superior performance and are graced with a fully unlocked multiplier. The only quad X4 BE right now is the 940, a 3.0Ghz chip that was one of the first to be launched, and thus is only AM2+ compatible. AMD followed this up last month with the tri core X3 BE 720, running at 2.8Ghz and fully AM3 compliant. There will soon be a quad AM3 BE chip available but for right now if you want an unlocked multiplier with DDR3 your choice is limited to the 720 X3 BE.

Of course AMD's tri core processors are nothing more than a quad with one core disabled. Whether that core wasn't functional or if it simply didn't pass muster, AMD has managed to find a market for these chips as an inexpensive bridge between dual and quad cores. But with only three cores, is the 720 even a viable upgrade for someone with a first generation Phenom quad or is it just a hamstrung slug of silicon? Join me as I aim to find out!


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