Other than having six cores one of the most interesting features of the AMD Phenom II X6 processor series is a new technology that will be found on all AMD ‘Thuban’ based processors called Turbo CORE technology.
AMD Turbo Core technology was explained to LR in four marketing slides, so we have included them for you to look at and we will use them to briefly go over the new technology. For starters Turbo Core sounds like an answer to Intel’s Turbo Boost technology that was introduced with the Nehalem processor series. AMD’s Turbo CORE is automatically enabled by default and should work on all AMD AM3 capable motherboards after a BIOS update. The BIOS update is needed as obviously the settings for this technology were not available when Socket AM3 motherboards came out.
AMD’s Turbo CORE is enabled on a six-core processor when three or more cores are not being heavily used. When Turbo CORE enables three of the processor cores get up to a 500MHz boost in performance, while the three at an idle state drop down to 800MHz. Turbo core mode doesn’t disable Cool’n”Quiet, which means the cores can still throttle like normal. When Turbo CORE is enabled the increased voltage goes across all the cores, so no voltage gating is taking place on the remaining cores in an idle state. If you start using a multi-threaded application that calls for more than three physical processors then Turbo CORE disables and all six cores are run at the processors rated clock frequency. AMD informed us that running Turbo CORE keeps the processor within the advertised power envelope the entire time, so it is no different when it comes to power consumption than running all six cores at full clock speeds.
The Turbo CORE technology is based off power use and you can see the sequence of performance transitions in the chart above.
We were curious what happened to the L2 Cache of cores that go to an idle state and we were told that the data in the L2 cache is flushed to the L3 to ensure that data remains available.
AMD’s Turbo CORE technology is a step in the right direction from what
we can tell from these slides and should improve consumers computing
experience by increasing performance when lightly using your system. The
Turbo CORE technology is handled by the CPU and is all done
automatically, so there is no extra work that needs to be done be the
end user to use this feature on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor on our test system and see what the power states look like with CPU-Z!