AMD Phenom 9000 Series Shootout
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If you read technology news sites you would think that more people are interested in hearing about Erratum 298 than they are Phenom. Tech news has gone mainstream with collage kids acting as seasoned analysts and presuming that the average computer user cares that someone is getting a salary increase or a glitch in hardware that will not affect that type of user. We all know now that Erratum 298 exists and that it wrecks Phenom’s L3 cache in something but is it a something that will affect you or me?
The official word from AMD is that 298 does exist in every Phenom and Opteron Quad-Core part that is for sale today. Damon Muzny from AMD had this to say:
“The case in which this erratum was found was running a particular version of virtualization with a highly specialized work load. In short, it is EXTREMELY unlikely your readers will be able to create a work load that could trip this erratum in the Phenom 9500 and 9600 which are the affected chips. However, AMD felt it prudent to go ahead and protect from any future unforeseen software development and fix the erratum in BIOS immediately. That BIOS fix has been communicated to motherboard manufacturers who are responsible for implementing the fix. Subsequent CPU releases will actually have a new revision of silicon (fixed) and that errata will not exist in those chips (I.E. Phenom9700 and 9900 and replacement models for the current 9500 and 9600).”
Revised silicon is nothing new, every processor goes through different “steppings” and enthusiasts love getting their hands on the latest processors since they have the potential to overclock better than the previous version. This is not the first time a CPU has been released with an issue that affects a specific program and we have all had that one application at one time or another that just didn’t act right with something we were using. At least the issue isn’t as bad as buying a $400 dollar gaming console that is all but guaranteed to melt down at some point in the future and called fixed with an extended warranty and $50 dollar gift card.
Today we are going to take a look at a sample AMD Phenom B2 Engineering Sample processor that runs at 2600 MHz native. At 2600 MHz the processor represents the performance of the Phenom 9900 that will be available early next year. When this part is made available it will be with the B3 stepping so there is a chance that performance could change slightly between now that then. Engineering Sample processors are multiplier unlocked like previous retail FX and Black Edition parts giving us the option to downgrade to higher or lower speed bin parts. We are going to execute this option and emulate the speed of the Phenom 9500, a 2.2 GHz part that is on store shelves now. Since the jump from 2.2 to 2.6 is a little much we also tested at 2.4, the speed in which Phenom 9700 will debut in early 2008.
Let’s jump in and go over some of the specifications of Phenom and see how it compares with Intel’s current quad-core processor.