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AMD Athlon II X3 425, 435 Processors

Three cores for the price of two.

October 30, 2009



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The idea of manufacturing triple-core processors, put forward by AMD two years ago prior to the first Phenoms, looks promising even without mentioning certain CPU models. Such processors offer a good compromise for the transition period (when a large share of programs cannot efficiently use quad-core processors). That is there is an opportunity to manufacture processors that will have relatively high performance in programs badly optimized for multithreading, and that can benefit from multithreading optimizations as they appear in programs.

However, such processors will most certainly be popular in the budget segment. If users are ready to pay proportionally more for a processor, they can "have it all". That is they can buy quad-core processors, which cores will be on a par with the top triple-core models in clock rates and other parameters. It happens because triple-core processors are actually rejected quad-core processors, which can still pass the tests with one core disabled. That's why the manufacturer launches them on the market -- they will help use all dice. And it will hardly try to squeeze maximum clock rates from them. But in practice, in case of Phenom II X3 it's sometimes possible to get the fourth core back online (if you are lucky). Such models may operate as sterling quad-core processors. Moreover, they can be overclocked to a moderate level. For this very reason, triple-core processors from the Phenom II 700 family gained popularity not only among thrifty users, but also among enthusiasts, who are interested in any extra opportunity to squeeze maximum from available hardware.

Perhaps users will also try to unlock processors from the Phenom II 400 family. However, they cannot reach top quad-core processors from AMD. It's because these processors are based on quad-core dice of Athlon II 600 without L3 Cache. So they are not designed for enthusiasts. And on the contrary, they will be very popular in inexpensive computers.



The reason for this is quite trifling -- aggressive pricing. Instead of standing in between top models of the dual-core Family 200 and lower models from Family 600, the first pair of triple-core processors will get price tags of Athlon II X2 245/250. To be more exact, Athlon II X3 425 -- $76, and Athlon II X3 435 -- $87. That's good news.

Besides, the line of e-suffixed models is expected to grow as well: triple-core Athlon II X3 400e and 405ะต and quad-core 600e and 605e (2.2 GHz and 2.3 GHz), as well as dual-core 425e and 435e (2.8 GHz and 2.7 GHz). They share the TDP value reduced from the standard 95-W (for 3-4-core processors) or 65-W level (for dual-core processors) down to 45 W. However, this opportunity to cut down TDP is an indirect sign that even 95 W for the standard models are chosen with a safety margin. That is the manufacturer plays on the safe side, which allows lax die sorting. In reality, our processors from Series 400 and 600 with the standard power emission have never accelerated the fan to maximum, even if it's a boxed cooler under long multithreaded load. And when we compare them to dual-core processors with formally lower TDP, we should keep in mind that as this parameter corresponds to the maximum level, it's measured under full load for each core. Higher power consumption under multithreaded load, for example video encoding, is compensated by faster execution. So when a task is completed, such processor will go to a power saving mode earlier than a dual-core processor, which will still be performing the task and consuming power. And what concerns applications that use only a couple of cores, power consumption there is approximately on the same level.

Testbed configurations


Processor Phenom X3 8750 Athlon II X2 250 Athlon II X3 425 Athlon II X3 435 Athlon II X4 620 Phenom II X3 710 Pentium E6300
Core name Toliman Regor Rana Rana Propus Heka Wolfdale-2M
Process technology, nm 65 45 45 45 45 45 45
Core clock, GHz 2.4 3.0 2.7 2.9 2.6 2.6 2.8
Number of cores 3 2 3 3 4 3 2
L1 cache, I/D, KB 64/64 64/64 64/64 64/64 64/64 64/64 32/32
L2 Cache, KB 3 x 512 2 x 1024 3 x 512 3 x 512 4 x 512 3 x 512 2048
L3 cache, KB 2048 - - - - 6144 -
Memory (*) DDR2-1066 DDR2-800 DDR3-1066 DDR2-1066 DDR3-1333 DDR2-1066 DDR3-1333 DDR2-1066 DDR3-1333 DDR2-1066 DDR3-1333 -
Multiplier 12 15 13.5 14.5 13 13 10.5
Socket AM2+ AM2+/AM3 AM2+/AM3 AM2+/AM3 AM2+/AM3 AM2+/AM3 LGA775
TDP, W 95 65 95 95 95 95 65

(*) The maximum frequency supported by CPU memory controller; lower-clocked memory can also be installed (e.g., DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 for processors supporting DDR2-1066). For LGA775 processors memory frequency and type are detected by chipset.


  Motherboard Memory (actual mode)
Socket AM2+ Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H (AMD 790GX) Corsair CM2X2048-8500C5D (dual-channel DDR2-1066, 5-5-5-15-2T, Unganged Mode)
Socket AM3 Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P (AMD 770) Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX (dual-channel DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20-1T, Unganged Mode)
LGA775 ASUS P5Q3 (Intel P45) Kingston KVR1333D3N9K3/6G (dual-channel DDR3-1066; 8-8-8-19-2T)

  • HDD: Seagate 7200.11 (SATA-2)
  • Cooler: Zalman CNPS9700
  • Graphics card: Palit GeForce GTX 275
  • Power supply unit: SeaSonic M12D 750 W

We've selected for comparison direct neighbors of the new processors in the existing model range: the top Athlon II X2 and the cheapest Athlon II X4. It will be also interesting to compare new budget triple-core processors with the top representative of the previous generation (Phenom X3 8750 based on the 65-nm Toliman core) to determine the progress rate. And finally, comparison with the cheapest modern triple-core processor (Phenom II X3 710) will help us evaluate whether high frequencies of the new processors can make up for much smaller cache. We've taken results of the Intel Pentium E6300 ($81) as a competitor. Not to overburden diagrams, for all processors (except for the models under review) we publish results with one memory type (mostly DDR3). But the summary table contains results for both memory types for most of these processors as well as for previously tested ones.


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Page 3: More tests, conclusions



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