With its trio of new processors, AMD continues a trend I've referred to as improving Phenom at the edges. Collectively, these three chips represent a product line that's now a little bit faster and offers better efficiencyâ€”if you want it. There's nothing earth-shattering here, but it's worth noting that AMD's "Spider" platform is considerably more attractive than it was seven months ago. Consumers (and OEMs) now have quad-core options at power consumption rates that weren't previously available from AMD products, while the 780G+9350e+HD 4850 combo could prove quite attractive to end users who want quad-core scaling without a higher monthly bill.
These parts may also represent a sort of swan song for 65nm Phenom, just seven months after it was introduced. The 9950's TDP of 140W is high enough to make further speed grades unlikely, even if AMD's ratings are conservative. I'll personally be surprised if AMD announces further consumer speed grades before Shanghai debuts early in 2009, and I'd be astounded to see the company push ahead more than 100MHz. Current trends would suggest that AMD will spend the next few months further refining its chipset options, and could potentially opt to introduce additional 65W chips at higher clockspeeds.
If there's a downside to all this, it's the Q6600's current position. At $199, the chip offers significantly better performance than the 9350e, while remaining within a similar power envelope. AMD's only advantage, in this case, is its motherboard chipsetâ€”9350e and 780G are practically made for each other, and Intel has no similarly attractive integrated graphics solution. Platform costs and feature differences keep the Q6600 from being the automatic CPU of choice, but AMD's attractiveness at this point is hanging by a Spider's thread.