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
||AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor
Phenom II X4 955 Black
Clock: 3.2 GHz
L1: 4x 128KB
Socket: AM3 (AM2+)
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
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
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
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
Contents of Article: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
— AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review
AMD Overdrive 3.0 and Dragon Platform
AMD Overdrive 3.0 - Black Edition Memory Profiles (BEMP)
Overclocking an Unlocked 45nm Phenom II X4
Power Consumption Tests, Test System Specs
System Benchmarks: SYSMark 2007, PCMark Vantage
Synthetic Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra
Calculation Benchmarks: Super Pi, wPrime2.0, ScienceMark2, WinRAR
Rendering Benchmarks: Cinebench R10, Bibble 5
Rendering Benchmarks: POV-Ray, 3.7, SPECviewPerf 10
Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 06
Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis, FEAR
A Timely Refresh?