As we all know, the Phenom II (codename Deneb) will be AMD's second 45 nm part (the first is officially the Shanghai server part) that is scheduled to hit Q1 09. This heavily redesigned processor based on the Phenom architecture has already showed some significant per clock performance gains over the older product, and AMD considers this to be their best design ever in terms of performance, functionality, and eventual clockspeed. The first desktop products are expected to hit 3 GHz at the top end, but AMD has been hinting that the Phenom IIs can do a lot more in the hands of an enthusiast.
The first leaks were that the Phenom II could hit 4 GHz on air cooling. Yesterday AMD had some actual demonstrations at their AMD Austin Tech Day gathering, and the Phenom II was able to hit 5 GHz at 1.6v by using dry ice cooling. Dry ice is CO2, and it goes directly from solid to gas (sublimation) at a temperature of -109.3 F (-78.5C for the rest of the world) at 1 atmosphere.
The original Barcelona is a 65 nm part and really the first of its architecture. Since its release and the subsequent shuffling around of design teams, AMD has refocused their energy on delivering a design that would not only have a better per clock performance than the older part, but allow the design to scale in clockspeed on AMD's new 45 nm process. So far what we have seen shows that AMD has done very well.
With AMD's constant process improvement program, and tweaks to the Phenom II design that we typically see in the manufacturing stage, AMD could theoretically have a 3.4 to 3.6 GHz processor at moderate TDP levels (125 watts) that would more adequately perform against the Core i7 within the next 8 months.
For now, we have to sit and wait for the Phenom II to hit the market. Intel certainly needs the competition, and this product might just deliver enough of it to keep things interesting.
The die shot of the 45 nm Phenom II. 2 MB of L2 (512 KB per core) and 6 MB of L3 shared makes this an interesting part. Throw in some serious refinements to the underlying Phenom architecture, and suddenly AMD has a chip that can much more adequately compete with what Intel has out there currently (and upcoming).
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AMD Austin Tech Day - Phenom II Dry Ice / LN2 leaked info