There is little or no doubt that AMD’s Shanghai e.g. K10.5 architecture is the best one to date. Six years after the debut of original K8 architecture [Opteron/Athlon 64], its modified version is finally passing the thermal-imposed barrier of 3.2 GHz.
In only ten days time [NDA on processors that AMD sent out to selected reviewers expires on August 13th, 2009 at 06:01AM], AMD will release the Phenom II 965 Black Edition, a multiplier-unlocked processor ticking at 3.4 GHz with the expected power consumption. After the unhappy break that was K10 e.g. Barcelona/Agena, it is good to see AMD improving on the CPU core and releasing faster clocked products and keeping roughly the same thermal levels just like they did with Athlon and Athlon 64.
Also worth noting is that we might see AMD or Intel releasing the fastest clocked x86 processor of all times in 2010 – the current record for multi-cores lies with Pentium Extreme Edition 965 clocked at 3.73 GHz, featuring a "lovely" real-world TDP of 162W. Mono-cores didn’t went much beyond that – Pentium 4 670 and 672 were clocked at 3.8 GHz respectively. With advancements in process technology, a 162W TDP would now fit a quad-core processor at 4+GHz, instead of dual-core at 3.73 GHz – can anyone say that technology is not moving ahead?
To make matters more interesting, it looks like AMD decided to battle Intel with legalized overclocking – given that the Phenom II 900 series mostly consists out of Black Edition CPUs. In fact, we might argue that AMD is mostly targeting overclockers now – if you take a look at the whole Athlon II and Phenom II line-up, you’ll see that the percentage of Black Edition processors is unusually high.
This is a far cry from the times when both manufacturers sanctioned overclocking with canceling out warranties and even punishing system integrators that offered overclocked processors in their respective line-ups.