AMD reportedly planning triple launches in November

As the end of the year approaches, both AMD and ATI are preparing a final series of product launches that could conceivably put the duo on a better footing in 2008, but things are looking decidedly better on the GPU and chipset fronts than on the CPU front. According to DailyTech, AMD is preparing to launch quad-core Phenom, the RV670 refresh of ATI's R600,
and the company's new R790 chipset series in late November, possibly at the same time. While both the RV670 and R790 are expected to perform well and
should be available in reasonable volume, there are reasons to be concerned about AMD's Phenom strategy. 老域名购买

If DailyTech's information is correct, AMD will launch the Phenom 9600 and 9500 in late November, at clockspeeds of 2.4GHz and 2.2GHz, respectively. Both CPUs will be quad-core, have 512K of L2 cache per processor, and an additional unified 2MB of L3 cache. If all this sounds familiar, it's because the Phenom X4 series appears to be higher-clocked version of the already-released Barcelona. In December we can expect to see a 9700 model at 2.6GHz with a 125TDP as compared to an 89W TDP for both the 9600 and 9500 models.

Apparently that's it for higher-end Phenom desktop parts until the second quarter of 2008, when AMD is scheduled to release another 9xxx chip at an undisclosed speed not to exceed 3GHz. With the Phenom FX-82 scheduled to debut at or above 2.6GHz in the first quarter of 2008, and a future FX processor scheduled for launch in Q2 2008, it's not hard to see what AMD is likely planning: an FX-82 launch at 2.8GHz in Q1, and an FX-84 (presumably) at 3GHz in Q2.

Even if all the information above turns out to be accurate, there are still a lot of gaps to be filled. Nothing has been said about Phenom X2 processors and it's not clear at all how Tri-core fits into the above scenario. Based on the performance we've seen from Barcelona vs. Opteron comparisons thus far, there's good reason to believe that higher-clocked versions of the core would go a long way towards re-establishing performance parity with Intel. Unfortunately, there's also reason to suspect that AMD is having trouble producing enough Barcelona cores to meet demand—and that's at just 1.8, 1.9, and 2GHz clockspeeds. Given the current situation, it's not clear that AMD will be able to launch Phenom in volume at 2.4 or 2.2GHz in just another month.

The other issue AMD will have to contend with, of course, is the upcoming launch of Intel's 45nm Penryn core. Intel's benchmarks predict Penryn's desktop version, Wolfdale, will be an average of 10-12 percent faster than Conroe clock-for-clock. This leaves AMD facing a potential scenario where Phenom might equal or even surpass Conroe's performance, only to be surpassed itself within a matter of months by Wolfdale.

Put it all together, and I flatly don't like what I see on Phenom's roadmap. There are too many questions about AMD's ability to deliver already launched chips, much less any faster versions. The company also seems to be bent on positioning quad core as the crown jewel of its product line, even though the overwhelming majority of consumers have absolutely no use for that much multi-processing capability. Granted, this could lead to a scenario where Phenom X2 or Tri-core parts were offered at faster clockspeeds with fewer cores, which is honestly where I think consumer-oriented products should focus—but we simply have no information on AMD's intentions at this time.

It's certainly not all doom and gloom—strong RV670 and R790 launches would certainly help the company's overall position, and Phenom is definitely a huge improvement over the old Athlon 64 X2 architecture, clock-for-clock. The most important thing for AMD to do, regardless of when it launches Phenom or what clockspeeds it launches at, is to avoid a paper launch. All the efficiency and performance improvements in the world don't mean anything if no one can buy the product—and paper launching what's supposed to be an entirely new desktop platform would only reinforce the impression that AMD is stumbling badly in its attempt to implement 65nm technology.