AMD Athlon II X4 640 & X4 610e Review

Author: Carl Poirier
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/aii_640_aii_610e/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The recent launch of the Phenom II X6 1055T and 1090T processors have created lots of excitement in the different enthusiast communities. Looking at the roadmaps, these will most probably make for the last major innovation from AMD before the launch of its first Fusion branded products, which have on-chip GPUs, and are slated for mass production in the second quarter of this year.

In the mean time, processor development has not stood still at AMD. Committed to delivering the best bang-for-the-buck, a slew of new processors were launched today, all made on the Athlon II architecture. What is interesting is that these are all made on the third revision of the Athlon II architecture. Will it yield great results?  If we recall the last revision of the Phenom II die, we did see a great increase in over-clockability, a more robust memory controller and a decrease in power consumption. Let's just hope it will be the same for the Athlon IIs.

To find out, we will look at two of the six new processors: the Athlon II X4 640 and the Athlon II X4 610e. The former is part of the standard Athlon II quad-core lineup. The latter is a low-power edition, which will be analyzed on the next page.

 

Specifications

Model Number & Core Frequency
X4 640 = 3.0GHz
TRAY OPN#
ADX640WFK42GM
L1 Cache Sizes
64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1 per processor)
L2 Cache Sizes
512KB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
Memory Controller Type
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
Memory Controller Speed
Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported
Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
HyperTransport 3.0 Specification
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth
Up to 37.3GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 21.3 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR3-1333) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Up to 33.1GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR2-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Packaging
Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Fab location
GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology
45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Die Size
169 mm2
Approximate Transistor count
~ 300 million
Max Temp
71o Celsius
Nominal Voltage
1.05-1.4V
Max TDP
95 Watts
AMD Codename:
Propus

 

Pricing

Let's take this occasion to draw an updated table of actual processor pricing, like it was done in previous articles. It contains prices from the popular e-tailer Newegg.com. Under $200, the processors were grouped to show which ones are, according to a personal opinion, in direct competition. Today's launched processors are in bold.

  AMD
      Intel
   
Processor name
Frequency
TDP
Price
Processor name
Frequency
TDP
Price
 
 
 
 
Core i7-980X EE
3.33GHz
130W
$1050
 
 
 
 
Core i7-975 EE
3.33GHz
130W
$1010
 
 
 
 
Core i7-930
2.20GHz
130W
$588
 
 
 
 
Core i7-950
3.06GHz
130W
$570
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9550
3.00GHz
95W
$330
Phenom II X6 1090T
3.2GHz
125W
$309
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core i5-670
3.46GHz
73W
$300
 
 
 
 
Core i7-930
2.80GHz
130W
$295
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9550
2.83GHz
95W
$280
 
 
 
 
Core i7-860
2.80Ghz
95W
$280
 
 
 
 
Core i7-920
2.66GHz
130W
$280
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9505
2.83GHz
95W
$240
 
 
 
 
Core i5-661
3.33GHz
87W
$210
 
 
 
 
Core i5-660
3.33GHz
73W
$208
Phenom II X6 1055T
2.8Ghz
125W
$205
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core i5-750
2.66GHz
95W
$200
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Duo E8500
3.16GHz
65W
$190
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9400
2.66GHz
95W
$190
 
 
 
 
Core i5-650
3.20GHz
73W
$185
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q8200
2.33Ghz
95W
$184
Phenom II X4 965 BE
3.4GHz
125W
$182
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q8400
2.66Ghz
95W
$170
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Duo E8400
3.00GHz
65W
$168
Phenom II X4 955 BE
3.2GHz
125W
$160
 
 
 
 
Phenom II X4 945
3.0GHz
95W
$149
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Duo E7600
3.06GHz
65W
$140
 
 
 
 
Core i3-540
3.06GHz
73W
$140
Phenom II X4 925
2.8GHz
95W
$133
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Duo E7400
2.80GHz
65W
$125
 
 
 
 
Core i3-530
2.93GHz
73W
$125
Athlon II X4 640
3.0GHz
95W
$122
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Duo E7500
2.93GHz
65W
$118
Athlon II X4 635
2.9GHz
95W
$106
 
 
 
 
Phenom II X3 710
2.6GHz
95W
$104
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X4 630
2.8GHz
95W
$99
 
 
 
 
Phenom II X2 555 BE
3.2GHz
80W
$99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pentium E6600
3.06GHz
65W
$98
 
 
 
 
Pentium G6950
2.80GHz
73W
$98
Athlon II X4 620
2.6GHz
95W
$96
 
 
 
 
Phenom II X2 550
3.1GHz
80W
$88
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X3 445
3.0GHz
95W
$76
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X2 260
3.2GHz
65W
$76
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X3 440
3.0GHz
95W
$75
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X2 255
3.1GHz
65W
$71
Pentium E6500
2.93GHz
65W
$80
Athlon II X3 435
2.9GHz
95W
$71
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pentium E6300
2.80GHz
65W
$79
Athlon II X3 425
2.7GHz
95W
$70
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pentium E5400
2.70GHz
65W
$70
 
 
 
 
Pentium E5300
2.60GHz
65W
$67
Athlon II X2 250
3.0GHz
65W
$65
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Celeron E3400
2.6GHz
65W
$63
Athlon II X2 245
2.9GHz
65W
$61
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X2 240
2.8GHz
65W
$57
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Celeron E3300
2.50GHz
65W
$50
 
 
 
 
Celeron 430
1.80GHz
35W
$42
Sempron 140
2.7GHz
45W
$33
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

For processors over $200, Neoseeker's recent review of AMD's new Thuban processors out-lined the change-ups in that market segment -- so let's look at what is going on in the sub-$200 marketplace this time around.

From $182 to $133, AMD offers its second best lineup, the Phenom II quad-cores. These fight against the older LGA775 dual-cores, which have much less reason to be in this price range anymore, because of AMD's latest moves. As for the Core 2 Quads, the highest-clocked runs at a mere 2.66GHz, whereas the slowest Phenom II X4 beats it at 2.8Ghz. These architectures have roughly the same computing power at similar frequencies, so considering the much lower price of AMD processors, the choice should not be hard to make.

At the $122 mark, one can buy the subject of this review: the Athlon II X4 640. The Core 2 Duos will obviously be no match for it. The question is, how does it compare to the Core i3-530? That will be answered throughout this article. Next, one can get the Athlon II X4 635 and below, for less than $100. Will the similarly-priced Pentium G6950 based on the Nehalem architecture hold its own? The next few pages should settle this question as well. Below the $120 mark, the duals and tri-cores from AMD go against the slower-clocked Core 2 Duos. In this low price bracket, AMD has the parts to really make things trickier for Intel in 2010.

 

 

Let's now take a look at the Athlon II X4 610e and the competition. It is the first 45W processor from AMD to enter Neoseeker's labs. With four cores clocked at 2.4GHz, it definitely has some potential.

 

Specifications

Model Number & Core Frequency
X4 610e = 2.4GHz
TRAY OPN#
AD610EHDK42GM
L1 Cache Sizes
64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1 per processor)
L2 Cache Sizes
512KB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
Memory Controller Type
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
Memory Controller Speed
Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported
Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
HyperTransport 3.0 Specification
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth
Up to 37.3GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 21.3 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR3-1333) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Up to 33.1GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR2-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Packaging
Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Fab location
GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology
45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Die Size
169 mm2
Approximate Transistor count
~ 300 million
Max Temp
72o Celsius
Nominal Voltage
0.775-1.25V
Max TDP
45 Watts
AMD Codename:
Propus

 

Pricing

In the following table, all and only low-power editions and sub-45W processors are included. Prices are for direct AMD customers in 1000-unit tray quantities. The reason for this is that online e-tailers do not have in stock all of these models, but only a few select. There are two exceptions however; at the complete bottom, both single-core processor prices come from Newegg. For the Sempron 140, the reason is that Newegg sells them below the 1kUnit price. For the Celeron 430, Intel just does not list it in its processor pricing.

  AMD
   
Intel
   
Processor name
Frequency
TDP
Price
Processor name
Frequency
TDP
Price
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9550S
2.83GHz
65W
$320
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q9505S
2.83GHz
65W
$277
 
 
 
 
Core 2 Quad Q8400S
2.66GHz
65W
$213
Phenom II X4 910e
2.6GHz
65W
$175
 
 
 
 
Phenom II X4 905e
2.5GHz
65W
$165
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X4 610e
2.4GHz
45W
$143
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X4 605e
2.3GHz
45W
$143
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X4 600e
2.2GHz
45W
$133
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X3 415e
2.5GHz
45W
$102
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X3 405e
2.3GHz
45W
$102
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X3 400e
2.2GHz
45W
$97
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X2 245e
2.9GHz
45W
$77
       
Athlon II X2 240e
2.8GHz
45W
$69
 
 
 
 
Athlon II X2 235e
2.7GHz
45W
$69
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Intel Celeron 430
1.8GHz
35W
$42
Sempron 140
2.7GHz
45W
$33
 
 
 
 

Sources: http://www.intc.com/pricelist.cfm, http://www.amd.com/us/products/pricing/Pages/desktop-athlon.aspx, http://www.amd.com/us/products/pricing/Pages/desktop-phenom.aspx

 

One quick glance at it first reveals that Intel has no 45W desktop processor. What? That's right. Either it is a 65W quad-core, or a 35W 1.8GHz single-core. There is no compromise in between. So basically, AMD has taken care of filling the gap in between, with a quite nice selection of dual, tri or quad-cores. In terms of performance/Watt, it cannot compete with the two Core 2 Quads at the top. The Q8400S should score pretty much on par with the Phenom II X4 910e though, since the latter has an extra 2MB of L2+L3 cache to compensate for the slightly lower frequency. At the complete bottom, it is obvious that the Sempron 140 will own the Celeron 430, but at the cost of an extra 10W TDP.

Test Setup

AMD Athlon II "Propus" (Socket AM3)

AMD Athlon II "Propus" Low Power (Socket AM3)

Before taking a peek at the graphs, one must know that the Athlon II X4 610e has been overclocked on stock voltages only. More details on the overclocking page.

 

Comparison Setups

AMD Phenom II "Deneb" (Socket AM3)

AMD Athlon II "Propus" (Socket AM3)

Intel Core i5 "Clarkdale" (Socket LGA1156)

Intel Core i3 "Clarkdale" (Socket LGA1156)

Intel Pentium "Clarkdale" (Socket LGA1156)

 

Benchmarks

This program includes benchmarks for most hardware. The CPU arithmetic and multi-core efficiency benchmark will be run as well as memory bandwidth and latency.

The CPU arithmetic test showed that the Athlon IIX4 640 has significant gains over the X4 635. Right under these two is the Intel Core i5-661, followed by the overclocked-on-stock-voltages Athlon II X4 610e. The latter falls in between the Phenom II X4 910e and the Core i3-530 at stock. The memory bandwidth test put both Athlon IIs equal to the Core i5-661, although at an odd round 12GB/s. This phenomenon has been experienced many times in Neo's labs, including around the 13GB/s mark, and remains unexplained. It is like if Sandra was rounding up the results. Anyway, below them are the two other Intel processors. Above is the Athlon II X4 635 which did not get its result rounded off. At the top is the Phenom II and both overclocked Athlon IIs. The latency placed the contestants in almost the same order, except the Phenom II was above the stock Athlon IIs. For the multi-core bandwidth, the Intel processors remained untouched. The Athlon IIs were at the complete bottom.

HandBrake is an application that converts sound and video files to other formats. It makes use the many available threads so it can exploit the processor to its full potential.

POV-Ray, for Persistence of Vision Raytracer, is a 3D rendering software that has impressive photo-realistic capabilities.

This time, the Athlon II X4 640, overclocked or not, exhibited its raw power and came on top of every other processor in both benchmarks. Its predecessor is right behind, followed by its low-power overclocked cousin. At stock frequencies, in Handbrake, the latter will fall a tad behind the Core i5-661 but on top of the Phenom II, oddly. In POV-Ray, the inverse happens; the low-power Phenom II comes out on top followed by the other low-power processor, and finally, all three Intel processors.

Everyone knows WinRAR, so no need to explain what it is. Neoseeker's custom 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files will be archived using the greatest compression setting, in the ZIP format.

Cinebench 10 is another rendering program. Both the single-threaded benchmark as well as the multi-threaded will be run.

In WinRAR, the arrival of the third revision allowed the Athlon II architecture to take over the Core i3-530, leaving only the Core i5-661 untouched. Both low-power processors are ordered according to their frequency at the bottom. As for Cinebench, the situation is much harder to analyze. At the top is the overclocked Athlon II X4 640, however in single-thread performance it is still beaten by the Core i5-661. At stock, it is right behind the latter. At the top is the Pentium G6950, beaten by the low-power Athlon II, at its turn beaten by the Core i3-530 and finally the Phenom II.

Also, as one might have noticed, the Athlon II X4 640 showed a slight decrease in multi-thread performance compared to its predecessor. Why isn't it in line with what the single-thread test says, if all cores have got this 100MHz increase? This most probably has to do with the way the benchmark is conceived. What happens is that the image to render is divided into four parts right at the beginning; one for each thread. However, the sections that have to render larger parts of the bike require more power, thus resulting in longer render times. This some threads are freed much faster than others. Before these are assigned to another section of non-completed work, there is a delay in the order of seconds, therefore there is some important computing power lost. So what might happen there is that the faster frequency of the Athlon II X4 640 amplifies this phenomenon a bit, resulting in a slightly decreased score. The newest version of Cinebench, release 11.5, is programmed differently. It assigns work by much smaller sections , and as soon as one thread is done, it takes over the next section instantly. Let's see what it yields.

There it is; this time, all AMD processors are ordered in function of their frequency.

PCMark resembles a lot to the 3DMark suite from FutureMark, except the fact that it includes many other tests like hard drive speed, memory and processor power, so it is considered as a system benchmark and not just a gaming benchmark.

Lost Planet is a game developed by CAPCOM. It features a built-in benchmark which will be run at the lowest settings like the previous ones, including a resolution of 800x600. It has two different runs; one takes place in a cave whereas the other one is in a snow landscape.

PCMark does not give any extra merit to the X4 640; it scores practically the same as the previous flagship. With its L3 cache, the Phenom II exceeds them both, in turn overtaken by the Intel processors. Only once overclocked can the highest-clocked Athlon II get near to the Core i3-530. In Lost Planet, oddly enough, it could not score as well as its predecessor in the snow test. Both processors have been tested again and again, settings have been verified over and over. If it was not of this smal inconsistency, it would have finished on top. Still, at stock, it is right behind the Core i5-661, followed by the Phenom II and the Core i3-530. As for the low-power Athlon II, it managed to beat by a great margin the Pentium, and once lightly overclocked, even the Core i5.

The demo of these two gaming benchmarks can be downloaded for free. Call of Juarez is made by Ubisoft whereas the World in Conflict game is developed by Massive Entertainment. They will be run at the lowest settings possible so the score is not GPU-bound, so that implies a resolution of 1024x768 for Call of Juarez and 800x600 for World in Conflict. This way, the true processor power will be exhibited.

In Call of Juarez, only the Pentium G6950 was apart of the bunch. The two slowest Athlon IIs were overtaken by the Phenom II, and then by the two other Intel processors, by two FPS. As for World in Conflict, all three Athlon IIs finished last. Next is the X4 910e, and the Intel processors. Overclocked, the X4 640 could beat the G6950.

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack of the original Crysis, at that time well known for requiring the most powerful hardware to play at maxed settings. It uses an enhanced version of the same engine.

Bioshock is a creepy first person shooter. It is the oldest of the games in Neoseeker's benchmarking suite, hence the high FPS.

In Crysis Warhead, the X4 610e offers the same performance as the X4 635. Another 100Mhz seems to offer a slight advantage though. Only once overclocked can they beat the Phenom II. The Pentium G6950 is in between them, whereas the two other Intel processors are at the top. Bioshock orders all three Athlon IIs in order of frequency, at the bottom. After them are the Pentium G6950 and the Core i3-530, beaten by the Phenom II. Finally, is the overclocked X4 640, still beaten by the Core i5-661.

Far Cry 2 is another first person shooter that has been developed by Ubisoft. The story takes place in Africa, where the ultimate goal is to assassinate an arms dealer.

Left 4 Dead is a first-person shooter developed by Valve. It uses the Source Engine. Four survivors must fight against infected people in order to reach a safe area.

Far Cry 2 is one game that exploits the Athlon II very well despite the missing L3 cache. The Pentium G6950 is at the complete bottom, offering a great bottleneck to the player. The X4 610e and the 635 over it are roughly equal, above it. Next is the Core i3-530, followed by the Phenom II. Then is the stock Athlon II X4 640. It still cannot beat the Core i5-661 though, unless overclocked. In Left 4 Dead, the slowest processor is the low-power Athlon II. The Athlon II X4 640 does not offer any real advantage over its predecessor, although they both beat the Pentium. Albeit its lower clock, the Phenom II comes out on top, followed by the Core i3-530 and the Core i5-661. Overclocked, the new flagship of the Athlon II lineup infiltrates the Core i duo.

Overclocking

If one recalls the overclocking of the Athlon II X4 635, it reached 3683MHz fully stable, and it could boot up to 3800MHz. Well, it seems the third revision also helped the Athlon II die a lot. By playing with both the processor multiplier and the HT link reference clock, the X4 640 exceeded its predecessor by a nice 100MHz. The memory controller also performed much better.

Here are the final settings used:

As for the Athlon II X4 610e, a different approach has been taken, as it is a low power edition processor. Overclocking it like crazy would go against its low-power capability since it increases considerably the power consumption. Instead, to remain in the "low power consumption spirit", voltages have been kept at stock. It is also interesting to see if the power usage can further be reduced while staying at stock frequencies.

Here is the highest overclock achieved on stock voltages:

It could also be undervolted by some nice amount. While keeping AMD Cool'n'Quiet enabled, the processor voltage was set at 1.00V in the BIOS. As a reminder, the stock setting is 1.075V. This resulted in:

To make sure 800MHz at 0.768V was stable, the advanced power settings of the power plan in Windows were modified so that the processor would be locked at that speed when running OCCT. For some reason, the Gigabyte BIOS would not allow the x4 multiplier to be selected.

Power Consumption

 

The low-power Athlon II-powered system managed to beat even the Clarkdale, and by a nice margin. There are also some other interesting numbers though; the highest-clocked Athlon II does significantly better than its slower predecessor, thanks to the C3 revision of the silicon.

Here are the low-power processors in a 785G board, the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO, running the IGP. The Core i5-661, also running its IGP, is included.

Great. The Athlon II X4 low-power with a 785G idles almost as low as Clarkdale, however a load it is a full 28W lower! Underclocking it was not as beneficial as it did on the Phenom II X4 910e. It did reduce its power usage another 3W, bringing it 31W lower than Clarkdale.

 

Conclusion

 

In the previous article about the Athlon II X4 635, it was concluded that in gaming, the X4 635 had quite a hard time beating the Core i3-530 in the same price range. With today's launch however, the X4 635 is the new sub-$100 Athlon II X4, meaning that its direct competitor becomes the Pentium G6950. In rendering, its four physical cores were already giving it a great advantage. In gaming this time, it now beats the Pentium G6950 in four tests out of seven. So overall, the X4 635 at its new decreased price is now definitely a great value, either for rendering, gaming or general computing. That is the greatest thing about today's launch.

The C3 revision, this time applied to the Propus die, has made another few miracles. A 100MHz speed bump at the same time as decreased power consumption is very welcome. The new Athlon II flagship wins against both the Pentium G6950 and the Core i3-530 in all rendering and general computing benchmarks. It only loses against the Core i5-661 in WinRAR and Cinebench R10 in these six tests. As for gaming, it is not quite the same story; out of seven tests, it could not beat it one single time, but that was expected since they are not quite in the same price range. It did beat its similarly priced competior in two benchmarks though. So the same conclusion at the time of the launch of the previous flagship can be made; for rendering, folding or anything of this kind, the 3GHz Athlon II is definitely the better bet. For gaming however, the $3 more expensive Core i3-530 will score better.

The other tested subject in this article was the low-power Athlon II X4 610e. If one wants the best performance below the 45W mark, this processor is the right choice. In fact, looking at its amazingly low power usage, Intel provides only two solutions that have a better power consumption. The performance is just not comparable though; these are the single-core Celeron and Atom platform. The Pentium G6950, being a 73W TDP part, should fall around the 110W mark at load, maybe a tad less, which is still close to AMD's offerings. That being said, it outruns the 2.4Ghz quad-core in only two benchmarks out of six in rendering and general computing. As for gaming, it wins four tests out of seven. In other words, the Pentium offers a bit higher power usage, a tad better performance in gaming, but a definitely lower performance in general computing and rendering.  The price tag is not quite the same though; there is almost a $60 difference. Motherboards that can house Athlon IIs can be had for more than $20 less than a H55 board though, so that evens out a bit. So really it depends on the needs of the user. The low-power Athlon II, like its brothers, really shines in rendering and general computing at the 45W mark.

»Neoseeker.com

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