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Introducing the AMD Phenom 9000
AMD Phenom Logo
First on our preview list is the long awaited AMD Phenom. Previously we reported that the new quad core Phenom would be called the X4, AMD has decided to change the easy to remember XNumber-of-cores theme for something a little different. 9000's will be reserved for quad core and 7000's are for dual core. Name aside, the quad core AMD desktop processor is like the recently released server product called Barcelona. Phenom is designed to work in mainstream AM2 and AM2+ socket motherboards and looks similar to the Athlon processor that you are accustom to seeing or are using now.
The AMD Phenom is getting more than just its name changed from Athlon. Let’s take a look at what AMD has done to improve their processor design.
HyperTransport Technology (HTT) is now in its third generation and has increased its raw bandwidth to 20.8 GB/s. The Phenom processor rides the rails at 3.6 GHz and can use up to 16 GB/s. This allows data to flow to and from the processor, chipset and memory without being limited by a traditional front side bus.
Three Levels of Cache
Phenom introduces a new third layer of cache directly on the processor die. This new L3 cache is connected to the memory controller and each individual processors L2 Cache. This will allow data to flow between each core very quickly. Also, by holding more data the processors will not need to go back to the slower system memory as often to fetch data resulting in faster overall system performance.
128-bit Floating Point Units
The Floating Point Units have been updated to 128-bit and will increase the speed of instruction sets such as SSE, MMX and X86-64.
Improved Branch Prediction
This will allow Java, C++ and Visual Basic applications to perform faster. Since many of the programs we use everyday are written in these languages your overall system performance should increase.
Improved Integrated Memory Controller
AMD’s memory controller has been around since the first Hammer Series products. The improved controller still works at 128-bit and is dual channel but the official supporting speed has been raised to work with DDR2-1066.
True Quad-Core Design
Phenom uses a single ‘chip’ that has four cores on it. Each core is connected and communicates through a crossbar switch. This allows each core to send and receive information from another core much faster than sending it through a front side bus.
Cool ‘n’ Quiet 2.0
AMD has improved on their Cool ‘n’ Quiet technology that allows AMD processors to reduce energy consumption and allow for quieter operation :
All in the Details
The Phenom processor uses a 65nm manufacturing process that is similar to the previously released Brisbane core found on some Athlon X2 models. All Phenom quad core processors will be placed in the 9000 Series with the exception of the FX uber enthusiast products which will carry the FX-8x name.
Many motherboard manufactures have already release BIOS updates that will allow you to run the Phenom with your current AM2 motherboard. When going this route you lose some of the power features such as Dual Dynamic Power Management. Check your motherboard makers support pages for more information.
The AMD Phenom will be launching with two model numbers today. The Phenom 9600 comes clocked at 2.3 GHz and will be the fastest Phenom at launch. The box code for the 9600 is HD9600WCGDBOX.
AMD is also launching Phenom 9500 which runs at 2.2 GHz and has a box code of HD9500WCDGBOX.
A rumored 9700 is in the works and should arrive sometime in Q1 2008 and run at 2.4 GHz. We played with a 2.6 GHz model last week and have seen speeds up to 3.0 in demonstration systems.Only time will tell how long it takes AMD to ramp up clock speeds for retail units.
AMD has told us that by the time you are read this Phenom 9600 and 9500 will be available for purchase at large e-tail locations like Newegg, Zip Zoom Fly and eWiz. We are not sure how many will be available so if you want one before Christmas then remember, the early enthusiast gets the bad ass proc.
With e-tailors looking to raise their margins on launch day look for slightly inflated prices today. Look to spend between 320 and 250 USD on Phenom over the next week. If there is still stock left over from the initial rush we could see prices start to drop a bit.