When it comes to desktop processors the AMD Phenom series of processors hasn’t been too phenomenal when it comes to performance or efficiency, but AMD hopes to turn that around in the months to come. AMD recently invited some key members of the press down to their Austin, Texas headquarters to take a look at Phenom II. This processor has been known under the code name ‘Deneb’ for many months now, but Phenom II is what the processor will be launched as.
It’s no secret that this processor is built using the 45nm process, and while AMD was shrinking the die they took things apart and made it more efficient and improved how fast the core can be run up to. AMD had a display set up for the media that showed overclocking performance that included air cooling, TEC/Water Cooling, Phase Change Cooling, and lastly liquid nitrogen cooling for the top end. The overclocking performance ranged from just under 4GHz to well over 5GHz on the LN2 system pictured below. AMD Phenom processors were sensitive to temperature changes and once you got sub-zero they often had negative scaling when it came to overclocking. To be more specific, most Phenom processors hit a wall at -20C, but with Phenom II this wall has been removed. AMD showed us that the temperature bug is long gone by running an AMD Phenom II X4 processor at 1.95V and at below -190C. Not bad for the Phenom II X4 processor as it was a C2-H stepping, which is one stepping before what will be on the retail chips that launch in January.
AMD doesn’t want us to give exact frequencies for each level of overclocking, but we can say that we saw it running on the desktop and during gameplay. All of the systems were running Crysis, which doesn’t put a heavy load across all four cores, but it does show that it the system was stable enough to run a big name title. It looks like AMD Phenom II processors are on the right track and when they launch during CES it will mark a new chapter for AMD when it comes to processors. AMD is still sticking with the idea of an AMD platform and while the first AMD Phenom processor was designed to be used with Spider, the new Phenom II processor is designed to be run on the Dragon platform. The Dragon platform will consist of a Phenom II processor, a Radeon HD 4000 series graphics card and an AMD 790GX chipset powered motherboard. With this platform AMD thinks they have the right special sauce to take on Intel in the mainstream market, which they think is critical in this day and age with an uncertain economy. We’d have to agree with them on that aspect as not too many people are running out and spending $3,000-$5,000 on high-end gaming systems right now.
If AMD wanted to get some viral marketing going by showing off Phenom II X4 overclocking it seems that they have hit the nail on the head. Phenom II X4 scales much better than the original Phenom X4 processors, which is obvious as they showed overclocking on several different systems with numerous processors. AMD also said that these weren’t totally cherry picked samples and that these results are about average from what they are seeing with early samples. If that proves true on retail samples it will make for an interesting part! Reaching 3.2GHz on a current Phenom X4 is a great overclock, but reaching nearly 4GHz on Phenom II X4 is an awesome overclock.