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Difference Between AMD Athlon and Phenom

amd-athlonAMD Athlon vs. Phenom

The Athlon is AMD’s current flagship for desktop processors, extending from older single core models, to newer multi-core processors. The Phenom is a newer line of processors from AMD, that are essentially multi-core. The biggest difference between Athlon and Phenom processors is the presence of the L3 cache in the Phenom processors. This is an additional cache memory that is not restricted to a single core. It is shared by all cores, and is considerably larger than either the L1 or L2 caches. It provides significant performance improvements due to the reduced trips to the main memory.

Aside from cache memory, Phenoms also offer performance improvement in regards to the main memory. First off is the separate clock that runs at a fixed rate. This keeps the memory working at full speed, even when the processor is throttled down. Athlons only support 800Mhz DDR2 modules, and any module above that are throttled down to 800Mhz. Phenoms can utilize 1066Mhz DDR2 modules without throttling down. AMD introduced DDPM (Dual Dynamic Power Management) with Phenoms. This provides separate voltage sources for the processor and the memory controller, providing more power for both.

Another improvement in Phenom processors, is the presence of HyperTransport 3.0. It provides greater bandwidth, and more capabilities, compared to the older HyperTransport 2.0 that you can find on Athlons. HyperTransport facilitates the transmission of data from different PC components, making it integral for the overall performance of the entire system.

The downside for Phenoms, as is the norm with more powerful processors, is the substantial increase in power consumption. This makes the Phenom less ideal for mobile applications where power is in short supply. Increased power consumption also results in increased heat dissipation, that has the potential to damage the processor. Common solutions for heating problems include bigger heatsinks and stronger fans, or liquid cooling.

Summary:

1. The Athlon is AMD’s established flagship model, while the Phenom is AMD’s newer line of multi-core processors.

2. Athlons only have a L1 and L2 cache, while Phenoms have L1, L2, and L3 caches.

3. Phenoms have HyperTransport 3.0, while Athlons have HyperTransport 2.0.

4. Unlike Athlons, Phenoms utilize Dual Dynamic Power Management.

5. Unlike Athlons, Phenoms utilize a separate clock for the memory controller

6. Phenoms support DDR2-1066, while Athlons only support up to DDR2-800.

7. Phenoms consume considerably more power compared to Athlons.

8. Phenoms tend to heat up more than Athlons.


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