The Unknown CPU: Athlon X2 6500 Black Edition

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AMD gets ready to introduce a new processor.  Shhhhhh!

 Fudzilla reports that there’s a dual-core Phenom floating around.

AMD seems to be pretty quiet about it, perhaps for good reason.  First, it’s called an Athlon X2 6500 Black Edition.  The number would seem to imply that it is faster than K8-based X2s, which is somewhat dubious given that it runs at only 2.3GHz, and K8-based X2s have gotten up to 3GHz.

Second, the rather quiet introduction of this chip makes you wonder a bit about AMD’s strategy.  As we pointed out back in February, production of dual-core chips is an indicator that a CPU maker is actually capable of making a serious percentage of new generation/new process chips.   Dual-cores were supposed to be out in Q2, and when they didn’t come out, there were reports that they weren’t going to come out at all.

So what happened?  Why are these here?  There are three possibilities:

  • Kumas were supposed to come out all along, but conversion took longer than expected.
  • Kumas were cancelled, but then AMD changed its mind.
  • These Kumas aren’t really Kumas, but a “limited edition” Phenom with disabled cores.

None of these possibilities exactly glorify AMD.  Delays in what should have been a fairly simple task
(possibility 1) isn’t laudable.

Per possibility two, the X2s are frankly getting long in the tooth, but AMD has been able to get speeds up on them and slowly shifting the product mix upwards.  Even given that, they might not have looked too good by Q2 2009, when 45nm duallies are supposed to show up, but that prediction could have just as easily been made six months ago.  Perhaps 45nm conversion has run into some problems, and something a little better needed to hold the fort in 2009.  However, K10-generation duallies, especially lowish-speed ones, aren’t going to be much better or even as good than the current highish-speed X2s.  Unless AMD is very sure it can make K10-ish duallies running around 3GHz pretty soon, it’s hard to see why they would revive this project.  This “let’s do it, let’s not do it, oops, let’s do it again” doesn’t make AMD look good (and costs more than just sticking to one’s guns.

Finally, there’s the simple possibility that these dual-cores are just tri- or even quad-cores that just had a problem, and this is a way for AMD to get some money for them.  If that’s the case, there probably won’t be very many of them.  If OEMs start offering them, then we’ll know that isn’t the case.

Something that can be said about this chip is that the original price isn’t very competitive.  They cost about the same as an Intel E7200, which would certainly beat it.  That might be fine if AMD is just out to get rid of a relative handful to overclockers, but they’re going to have to get faster and cheaper (and be publicized more) to get serious sales.

Ed

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