AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Performance Preview
Thanks to its larger cache and IPC tweaks integrated into the architecture, AMDís Phenom II processors launched earlier this year finally have the company on much closer footing with Intelís latest Penryn-based Core 2 processors. The other big enhancement is Phenom IIís new 45-nm manufacturing process.
The new process allows AMD to scale to dramatically higher clock frequencies than their original Phenom processor could achieve. The fastest Phenom II CPUs launched at 3.0GHz Ė this is a speed Phenom couldnít hit until ACC was developed last summer, and even then you needed a little bit of luck to get speeds higher than 3.1GHz with air cooling. In comparison, we managed to hit 3.745GHz with our Phenom II 940 CPU on launch day; some users have managed to hit even higher speeds with newer retail chips.
But as great as Phenom II has been for AMD, there was one small flaw in their lineup: variety. We asked for a wider variety of Phenom II chips in our January article, and thatís exactly what AMD delivered in February with the launch of the AM3 platform. Not only did AMD address the 2.0GHz HyperTransport issue, they offered a wider variety of Phenom II parts at price points starting under $130 for triple-core CPUs, and $175 for the quad-core Phenom II 810 with 4MB of cache.
The only disappointment we had with the AM3 launch was clock speeds, as AMDís fastest AM3-based quad-core offering was the 2.6GHz Phenom II 910; thatís 200MHz slower than the AM2+ Phenom II 920.
Fortunately AMDís here today to address this final outstanding issue.
Launching today are two new Phenom II parts built for the AM3 socket. AMDís new flagship CPU is the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition. Clocked at 3.2GHz, this is the fastest CPU AMD has produced in terms of raw clock speeds since the old 90-nm Windsor-based Athlon X2 6400+ Black Edition were floating around a few years ago.
As a ďBlack EditionĒ processor, the Phenom II X4 955 sports an unlocked clock multiplier, allowing enthusiasts to dial in whatever multiplier setting they wish for OCíing. The chip is priced at just $245, $55 more than AMDís previous high-end Phenom II offering, the socket AM2-based Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition, which currently sells for $190 on Newegg right now. Speaking of the 940 BE, AMD says that despite the introduction of the 955 Black, they wonít be locking down the multiplier on 940 Black Edition parts. The 940 will continue to be produced as a Black Edition part for ďa period of timeĒ. AMD wonít state how long the part will continue to remain in the pipeline, but considering that AM3 processors are backward-compatible with AM2+ motherboards, it has been rumored that the AM2-based Phenom II CPUs wonít be sticking around long beyond the first half of 2009. Essentially, todayís introduction of the Phenom II 955 BE and the second CPU AMD is launching today, the Phenom II X4 945, has just made AM2+ Phenom II obsolete.
The Phenom II X4 945 is clocked at the same 3.0GHz clock speed as the Phenom II X4 940, with the obvious additions being AM3/DDR3 support and 2.0GHz HyperTransport (the 940 is limited to HyperTransport speeds of 1.8GHz). The 945 is priced at $225.
But new processors arenít all that AMD has on tap for today. The company is also launching new Overdrive 3.0 software that will appeal to all enthusiasts looking to tweak their system for maximum performance.