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Differences What are the advantages of each

Front view of Intel Atom Z2420

Reasons to consider the
Intel Atom Z2420

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Is hyperthreaded Yes vs No Somewhat common; Maximizes usage of each CPU core
Newer manufacturing process 32 nms vs 45 nms A newer manufacturing process allows for a more powerful, yet cooler running processor
Has a built-in GPU Yes vs No Somewhat common; A separate graphics adapter is not required
Marginally newer Jan, 2013 vs Feb, 2009 Release date over 3 years later
Front view of AMD Phenom II X3 720

Reasons to consider the
AMD Phenom II X3 720

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Much higher clock speed 2.8 GHz vs 1.2 GHz More than 2.2x higher clock speed
More advanced architecture x86-64 vs x86 A 64-bit architecture allows more RAM to be installed and accessed by the processor
Much better overclocked clock speed (Air) 3.62 GHz vs 1.2 GHz More than 3x better overclocked clock speed (Air)
More l2 cache 2 MB vs 0.5 MB 4x more l2 cache; more data can be stored in the l2 cache for quick access later
More l2 cache per core 0.67 MB/core vs 0.5 MB/core Around 35% more l2 cache per core
More cores 3 vs 1 Three times as many cores; run more applications at once
Much better overclocked clock speed (Water) 3.86 GHz vs 1.2 GHz Around 3.2x better overclocked clock speed (Water)

Features Key features of the Atom Z2420  vs Phenom II X3 720 

clock speed

Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz
It will deliver two times the performance of the current Z2460 platform.
Atom Z2420 | by Trace-Hagan (Jan, 2013)

L2 cache

Each individual core still features 64 KB of L1 Data cache, 64 KB of L1 Instruction cache, and 512 KB of L2 cache.
Phenom II X3 720 | by Legit Reviews (Feb, 2009)

overclocked clock speed (air)

Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz
Phenom II X3 720
3.62 GHz
Looks like the old overclocking friendly AMD processors are back and it is likely a fair number of AMD enthusaists will be back as well.
Phenom II X3 720 | by Legit Reviews (Feb, 2009)

overclocked clock speed (water)

Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz
Phenom II X3 720
3.86 GHz
Increasing the bus speed will be the only way to overclock this processor and that is likely to deter many enthusiasts and overclockers.
Phenom II X3 720 | by Legit Reviews (Feb, 2009)

Specifications Full list of technical specs

summary

Atom Z2420  vs
Phenom II X3 720 
Clock speed 1.2 GHz 2.8 GHz
Cores Single core Tri core
Is hyperthreaded Yes No

features

Has a NX bit Yes Yes
Instruction-set-extensions
MMX
SSE
SSE3
SSE2
Supplemental SSE3
SSE4a
3DNow!
Supports dynamic frequency scaling Yes Yes

gpu

GPU GPU None
Label Integrated N/A
Number of displays supported 2 N/A
GPU clock speed 400 MHz N/A

details

Atom Z2420  vs
Phenom II X3 720 
Architecture x86 x86-64
Threads 2 3
L2 cache 0.5 MB 2 MB
L2 cache per core 0.5 MB/core 0.67 MB/core
Manufacture process 32 nms 45 nms
Max CPUs 1 1
Voltage range 0.3 - 1.2V 0.85 - 1.43V

overclocking

Overclocked clock speed 1.2 GHz 3.62 GHz
Overclocked clock speed (Water) 1.2 GHz 3.86 GHz
Overclocked clock speed (Air) 1.2 GHz 3.62 GHz

power consumption

Typical power consumption N/A 77.19W
Intel Atom Z2420
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AMD Phenom II X3 720
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