Preliminary news regarding AMD's upcoming 45nm Phenom processors has been trickling out for the last few months, but other than some basic information about the manufacturing process, code names, and socket, concrete details about the processors themselves has been scarce. Just the other day, however, a post in a Chinese discussion forum--itocp.com--shed some light on the stock performance and overclockability of an early 45nm Phenom sample.
If the information in the post turns out to be true, and all indicators at this point are that it is, the chip used for their experiments has a default clock speed of 2.2GHz, with 2MB of L2 cache (512KB per core x 4), and 6MB of shared L3 cache, which is a significant increase over the 2MB of L3 of current Phenoms. At its stock frequency, the chip required 1.22v to operate reliably. But with an increase to 1.57v, the poster was able to take the chip all the way up to 3.4GHz. Although the Google translation of the forum post isn't very good, the images available on the site tell much of the story.
3.4GHz at this early stage is a good sign for AMD, but remember Intel is not sitting still. Around the same time 45nm Phenoms are slated to arrive, Intel will be readying the Nehalem core, which offers a number of enhancements over the Core 2. Based on what we've seen firsthand thus far, even if AMD is able to bring 3.0GHz+ Phenoms to market sometime this year, it still isn't going to be enough to challenge Intel at the ultra high-end. 45nm Phenoms, however, should eventually be more economical to manufacture, which could help AMD's margins if pricing remains largely unchanged from current levels.
45nm AMD Phenom X4 Overclocked to 3.44GHz