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AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review - PCSTATS
The 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is the companies' latest quad-core processor, and it's being released in tandem with a new memory tuning tool called Black Edition Memory Profiles, or B.E.M.P. for short.
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AMD Apr 30 2009   J. Apong  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition

The 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is the companies' latest quad-core processor, and it's being released in tandem with a new memory tuning tool called 'Black Edition Memory Profiles', or B.E.M.P. for short.

AMD's Black Edition processors are of course designed with PC enthusiasts in mind, so you can bet that PCSTATS will be overclocking the 955 BE as far as its unlocked multiplier will allow. After all, you've got to pick the right tool for the job and that means a processor which can be tweaked and overclocked to maximize your PC performance. Both Intel and AMD have enticed enthusiasts with CPUs that feature unlocked multipliers. Intel has its Extreme Edition CPUs, which are clocked the fastest of any of its CPUs, and sell at exorbitant prices - typically $1000 or more. AMD makes its unlocked processors a much more practical option.

AMD's goal with the Phenom II processor family is to make it as easy as possible to transition from older socket AM2 and AM2+ computers to new socket AM3 CPUs and DDR3-based motherboards. While the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is optimized for socket AM3 motherboards, it can be dropped into socket AM2+ motherboards as an easy upgrade, since it's compatible with both DDR2 and DDR3 memory.

Since this is a refresh, most of the specifications remain the same between the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition and the previous flagship quad-core chip, the AMD Phenom II X4 940. Both processors have 6MB of shared L3 cache, and 512KB of L2 cache for each of the four cores. AMD's Phenom II quad-core design emphasizes a larger L3 cache so that each core's individual L2 cache can be smaller and therefore faster. This prevents processor cores from tripping over each while waiting to search through a large, shared L2 cache.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor
Tech Specs

Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
Clock: 3.2 GHz
L1: 4x 128KB
L2: 4x 512KB
L3: 6MB
Multiplier: 16x
Package: 938-pin
Socket: AM3 (AM2+)
organic mPGA
Core: 45nm SOI
Transistor: 758M
Power: 125W
Vcore: 0.875-1.5V
Cost: $245 USD

The 955BE's HyperTransport 3.0 specification operates at 4.0GHz, for a total processor-to-system bandwidth of 37.3GB/s when using 1333MHz DDR3 or 33.1GB/s when using its DDR2 memory controller at 1066MHz. The Phenom II's 128-bit wide memory controller still operates at 2GHz, although it has had an important fix: DDR3 memory modules can now run at 1333MHz speeds in dual-channel mode. The Phenom II 940 could only manage 1333MHz speed in single-channel mode, as soon as both memory channels were filled the memory controller would drop down to DDR3-1066MHz memory speeds.

While AMD has increased the clockspeed of the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, the overall heat levels have thankfully stayed the same. The 955BE has a TDP of 125 Watts, which also means that there's that much more overclocking potential before heat becomes an issue.

AMD's shrink to a 45nm manufacturing process means that the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition packs in 758 million transistors into a 258mm2 die, which has also helped keep TDP low for the Phenom II processor line.

With a suggested retail price of $300 CDN ($245 USD, £165 GBP), the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is priced right in between Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9400 and the Core 2 Quad Q9550, and is nearly $60 less expensive than the very popular Core i7 920. Of course, the price of the chips by themselves is only half the story; AMD wants to introduce you to their new and improved Dragon platform, which could make this new Phenom II processor a much more tempting purchase...

Re-Enter the Dragon

Just a few months ago AMD brought out its Dragon platform, a combination of its new Phenom II processors, socket AM3 motherboards, and Radeon 48XX series of videocards. AMD is back with a few more upgrades to their arsenal.

The newish Dragon platform consists of the recently released AMD Radeon 4890 videocard, new revisions of AMD's socket AM3 motherboards, and a new addition to the Phenom II line of processors: the AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition.

The 955BE is AMD's fastest processor yet, a quad-core socket AM3 beast, clocked at 3.2GHz with an unlocked multiplier. AMD's processors have always been overclocker friendly, but its Black Edition processors are specifically tailored to performance enthusiasts, and the 955BE has all the indications that it will continue this tradition.

AMD is looking to convert its 'Dragon' system platform into something that's more than just an assortments of parts that share the same marketing label. While there still aren't any special hardware features that become unlocked from combining Phenoms, Radeons and AM3 motherboards together, AMD has crafted new software tools aimed directly at overclockers and enthusiasts.

AMD's Overdrive software suite is designed to make overclocking AMD CPUs and GPUs easier and more accessible. While both NVIDIA and Intel offer tools for their motherboards and videocards that allow this, few give the range or depth of options that the AMD Overdrive software provides.

The new AMD Overdrive 3.0 software introduces two key new elements: Smart Profiles and Black Edition Memory Profiles. Smart Profiles can performance tune individual CPU cores automatically when the AMD Overdrive software detects an application launch. For applications that are optimized for dual core processor, the new Overdrive software can dynamically disable two cores of a quad-core Phenom II processor, and overclock the remaining two to faster speeds.

Black Edition Memory Profiles (BEMP) are similar to Intel's Extreme Memory Profiles. AMD has collaborated with major memory vendors so that selected sets of high-frequency memory can work at their most aggressive frequencies and latencies, the way the engineers intended. BEMP will automatically adjust AMD Overdrive once compatible memory is detected to take full advantage of faster memory modules.

Later on in this PCSTATS review we're going to see just how far we can push a system, but for now stay tuned as PCSTATS unlocks secrets behind Overdrive 3 and BEMP to unleash the true power of the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition...

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Contents of Article: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
 Pg 1.  — AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review
 Pg 2.  AMD Overdrive 3.0 and Dragon Platform
 Pg 3.  AMD Overdrive 3.0 - Black Edition Memory Profiles (BEMP)
 Pg 4.  Overclocking an Unlocked 45nm Phenom II X4
 Pg 5.  Power Consumption Tests, Test System Specs
 Pg 6.  System Benchmarks: SYSMark 2007, PCMark Vantage
 Pg 7.  Synthetic Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 8.  Calculation Benchmarks: Super Pi, wPrime2.0, ScienceMark2, WinRAR
 Pg 9.  Rendering Benchmarks: Cinebench R10, Bibble 5
 Pg 10.  Rendering Benchmarks: POV-Ray, 3.7, SPECviewPerf 10
 Pg 11.  Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 06
 Pg 12.  Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis, FEAR
 Pg 13.  A Timely Refresh?

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