AMD Phenom II X6 Processors Arrive
The long awaited AMD Phenom II X6 processors have finally arrived and AMD officially has 6-core desktop processors on the market! AMD today released their new flagship desktop processors that feature six processor cores, but that is not all! The have also rolled out a new frequency boosting technology called AMD Turbo CORE that is available on these new 'Thuban' processors, a brand new chipset that goes by the name of 890 FX for high-end motherboards.
The new AMD Phenom II X6 processors, AMD 8-series chipsets, and ATI Radeon HD 5800 series cards make up what is called the 'Leo' platform and is said to be the ultimate AMD platform for power users. Today, our focus will be on the new AMD Phenom II X6 processors as we have the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor in-house and have been pounding away on it for the past several days.
| AMD Phenom II X6 Processor Lineup
|CPU||Clock Speed||Turbo Clock||L3 Cache||TDP||Price|
|AMD Phenom II X6 1090T||3.2GHz||3.6GHz||6MB||125W||$285|
|AMD Phenom II X6 1075T||3.0GHz||3.5GHz||6MB||125W||-|
|AMD Phenom II X6 1055T||2.8GHz||3.3GHz||6MB||125W/95W||$199|
|AMD Phenom II X6 1035T||2.6GHz||3.1GHz||6MB||95W||-|
|AMD Phenom II X4 960T||3.0GHz||3.4GHz||6MB||95W||-|
AMD is supposed to be coming out with a number of 6-core processors in the coming months, but today they have officially announced the Phenom II X6 1090T (HDT90ZFBK6DGR) and the Phenom II X6 1055T (HDT55TFBK6DGR). The chart above shows some of the rumored processors that will be coming out. AMD only sent us the Phenom II X6 1090T processor, but we will be down clocking it to Phenom II X6 1055T speeds and benchmarking that as well to see how it fairs against processors like the Intel Core i7 930.
The AMD 890 FX chipset is basically superior to the AMD 890 GX chipset in the sense that it has been stripped of the integrated graphics (IGP) and has two full x16 PCI Express lanes for better performance for those that have multi-GPU CRossFire graphics configurations. Both the 890GX and 890FX chipsets have the primary PCIe graphics card location as a x16 slot when one video card is used, but when two video cards are used the 890GX chipset reduces the number of lanes down to just eight on the slot.
The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T CPU is AMD’s fastest and most powerful desktop processor ever. It has six real 45nm cores of processing power that operate at 3.2GHz under full load. If the CPU finds itself in a condition where 3 or more cores are idle, the processor can use Turbo CORE technology to boost the active 3 cores to 3.6GHz improving performance on less heavily-threaded workloads.
Cache Sizes L1 Cache:
- 128KB (64KB Instruction + 64KB Data) x6(six-core)
- L2 Cache: 512KB x6(six-core)
- L3 Cache: 6MB Shared L3
HyperTransport technology links: One 16-bit/16-bit link at up to 4000MT/s full duplex; or up to 16.0GB/s I/O bandwidth
Memory: Integrated memory controller up to 21GB/sec dual channel memory bandwidth
Types of Memory: Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) and PC3 10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
Die Size: 45nm = 258mm2
Packaging: 938-pin organic micro Pin Grid Array (micro-PGA)
Let's take a closer look at Turbo CORE technology and take a look at the benchmarks!
AMD Turbo Core Technology Introduction
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!
Phenom II X6 1090T CPU-Z
CPU-Z 1.54 shows that the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor has 512KB L2
cache per core and 6MB shared L3 cache. This adds up to the entire processor having 9MB of cache (L2+L3) available to it, which is slightly more than the Core i7 quad-core processors as they have 8MB cache. The Intel 980X six-core processor has 12MB cache though, which trumps all desktop processors on the market today.
The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor has an 16x multiplier with a 200MHz reference clock, but features low power states and turbo CORE mode. This means that the core clock frequency and base clock will rise up and down all by itself, depending on the workload. This is a brand new feature to AMD processors! The screen shot above shows the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor at an idle state. You can see the multiplier dropped down to 4x and the core speed or overall clock frequency is just 800 MHz.
When the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor was running at full load the
multiplier jumped up to 16 and the overall clock frequency is now 3.21GHz, as you can see from the screen shot above. This is what happens when a heavy load is on at least four or more threads.
When the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor is under a light load on just three or fewer cores the multiplier jumps up to 18 for an overall clock frequency of 3.6GHz. This is how AMD Turbo CORE technology works. It's not as complicated or efficient as Intel's Turbo method, but it works and is certainly better than not having it!
The Test System
Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test
system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows
7 Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no
other software programs running. The Gigabyte X58A-UD5 motherboard was running BIOS F5 and the 6GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory kit was run in triple-channel mode. The Intel Core i7-980X test system was run with the memory at 1333MHz with 8-8-8-24 1T memory timings. The Intel Core i7-975 test system was run with the memory at 1600MHz with 9-9-9-24 1T memory timings. The difference in memory speeds was due to stability issues at 1600MHz with the 980X motherboard. We feel that this was a BIOS issue and have Gigabyte looking into the matter for us.
Here is a quick look at the GPU-Z and CPU-Z specifics for our test Intel test system with the Core i7-980X in it.
The AMD Test System:
The test system was run in dual-channel memory mode at 1600MHz with 9-9-9-24 1T memory timings. The Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H motherboard was running BIOS F7b, which was the latest build available when testing was completed.
An ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card with CATALYST 10.2 drivers was used for testing.
|AMD Test Platform|
Phenom II X4 965
|4GB Kingston HyperX T1 DDR3
Radeon HD 5870
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit
SiSoftware Sandra 2010c
The Sisoft Sandra 2010c benchmark utility just came out a few weeks ago and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. Sandra 2010 now comes with support for Virtualisation (Virtual PC/Server, Hyper-V, VMware) and GPGPU (OpenCL, DirectX 11 DirectCompute, but today we will be using the program to look at memory and CPU performance!
Results: Sandra 2010c showed that the Intel Core i7 930/975 system with the memory running at 1600MHz CL9 timings was the memory to reach nearly 26GB/s throughput, which is impressive thanks to the triple-channel memory. AMD's Phenom II X4 and X6 processors use dual channel technology and at 1600MHz with CL9 timings. The performance results of the Phenom II X6 processors aren't too different from the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition as all have ~13.5GB/s of memory bandwidth.
The Sandra Processor Multi-Media benchmark has been a long time favorite of ours to look at floating point performance on processors, so let's see how Intel's latest 32nm mobile processor does!
Results: In the Multi-media processor test the AMD Phenom II X6 processors strut their stuff and solid performance numbers and are able to compete with the Intel Core i7 series of processors!
Cryptography has become an important part of our digital life: it
allows us to conduct safe transactions online, certify programs and
services, keep our data secure and much more. Sandra 2010c has a dedicated benchmark built-in that measures cryptographic performance, which is important on the new Intel 32nm processors like the Core i7 980X that we are benchmarking today. It includes features like AES-NI! Intel AES-NI is a new set of Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions that are going to be introduced in the next generation of Intel processors, as of 2009. These instructions enable fast and secure data encryption and decryption, using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), defined by FIPS Publication number 197. The architecture introduces six instructions that offer full hardware support for AES. Four of them support high performance data encryption and decryption, and the other two instructions support the AES key expansion procedure. Let's take a look at how this feature impacts Cryptography performance.
Results: The Intel Core i7 980X Processor with AES-NI has significantly more Cryptographic Bandwidth than the previous generation Intel Core i7 975 processor and all the other desktop processors that we tested!
Microsoft Excel 2007
Microsoft Office Excel 2007 is a powerful and widely used tool with which you can create and format spreadsheets, and analyze and share information to make more informed decisions. It allows you to import, organize and explore massive data sets within spreadsheets and then communicate your analysis with professional-looking charts. Excel 2007 also provides tools to “see” important trends and find exceptions in your data.
The Black-Scholes model is used in our Excel test to calculate a theoretical call and put price using the five key determinants of an option's price: stock price, strike price, volatility, time to expiration, and short-term (risk free) interest rate.
This workload calculates the European Put and Call option valuation for Black-Scholes option pricing using Monte Carlo simulation. It simulates the calculations performed when a spreadsheet with input parameters is updated and must recalculate the option valuation. In this scenario we execute approximately 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation. In addition, the workload uses Excel lookup functions to compare the put price from the model with the historical market price for 50,000 rows to understand the convergence. The input file is a 70.1 MB spreadsheet and with 10 times the calculations of the first test; this one should take a bit longer to complete.
Benchmark Results: With 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation taking place in this benchmark, it takes all the processors a bit longer to finish as it puts a good load on the system. The Intel Core i7-975 was 48% slower than the 980X processor, which is what we want to see as it has 50% more threads and this test put the CPU at a constant 100% work load across all 12 threads of the processor. The AMD processors all finished after the Intel processors, but the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T was 7.77 seconds faster than the AMD Phenom II 965 Black Edition processor. This is a big deal as this is a 30% performance improvement!
x264 HD Encoding
Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.
This application did fairly well when run on 12 threads, as you can see from the screen shot above. The first pass was only using about half of the processing power, but on the second pass all 12 threads were at ~95% load.
Benchmark Results: The x264 HD benchmark is said to be ideal for a benchmark because the application reports fairly accurate compression results for each pass of the video encoding process, and it uses multi-core processors very efficiently. The Intel Core i7 980X processor was found to be 7.5% faster than the Intel Core i7 975 on the first pass, which is amazing as both processors are the same clock frequency. On the second pass the Core i7 980X processor was found to be 45% faster. Why the great jump in performance on the second pass? If you take a look at our task manager it was found that the only about 40% of the processing power is used on the first pass, but on the second pass that figure jumps up to nearly 95%. This is why the AMD Phenom II 965 BE does so well on the first pass as it runs at 3.4GHz versus the 2.8GHz found on say the Phenom II X6 1055T or the 3.2GHz on the 1090T.
CyberLink MediaShow 5
CyberLink MediaShow 5 is a fast and easy way to preserve and share your life's best moments. One-click fixes, face tagging, uploading to Facebook and express video conversion, are just some of the convenient features available for organizing and sharing your photos and videos. MediaShow 5 can be used to output your slideshows and videos to mobile devices like an iPhone, iPod, PSP or Zune. Pre-set profiles eliminate the need for any complex settings and you can just drag-and-drop the video files you want to convert straight into the application.
We downloaded a clip that was encoded at 24 frames per second (fps) at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (1080p). We then used MediaShow 5 to convert this clip to work on our iPhone. If you have this software and want to try it out yourself you can download the Coral Reef Adventure (IMAX) 1080p clip that we used from this site.
Sony Vegas 9.0D Pro
The Vegas Pro 9 collection integrates two powerful applications that work seamlessly together to provide an efficient and intuitive environment for video and broadcast professionals. This comprehensive suite offers the most robust and progressive platform available for content creation and production. With broad format support, superior effects processing, unparalleled audio support, and a full complement of editorial tools, the Vegas Pro 9 collection streamlines your workflow. From acquisition to delivery, from camera to Blu-ray Disc, the Vegas Pro 9 collection delivers exactly what you need to produce outstanding results. Vegas Pro software also supports 24p, HD and HDV editing, which is what we are going to look at in this benchmark.
The Sony Vegas 9.0d workload that we are using takes an input file that is a ~1min59sec, ~370MB 1440x1080 HD video imported from an HD camcorder using Sony Vegas. We then take that file and output it as a Blu-ray disc using Sony Vegas 9.0d. The output is a 1920x1080 60i Blu-ray Disc ISO image.
Benchmark Results: Running the Sony
Vegas 9.0d benchmark shows just how important a CPU is when it comes to
creating video content. Sony
Vegas 9.0d was only running at 80% load across all 12 threads, but that was enough to give us a 22% performance boost over the Intel Core i7 975 processor. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T finished the benchmark in 185 seconds and the 1055T was just behind it at 208.4 seconds.
Photodex ProShow Gold 4.1
ProShow Gold allows the user to combine photos, videos and music to create spectacular slide shows. The software provides the capability to share memories with friends and family on DVD, PC and the Web. ProShow Gold brings still photos to life by adding motion effects like pan, zoom, and rotate. The user can also add captions to a photo or video and choose from over 280 transition effects.
The workload we are using takes 31 high resolution jpeg photos and converts them to an mpeg2, widescreen DVD quality, 3min 9sec slideshow video file. The input photos are in 3872x2592 resolution and total about 170MB in size.
ProShow Gold 3.2 lets you share your slide shows in virtually any format and on any device. You can upload your shows directly to YouTube or choose from over 20 devices to directly output to including the iPod, Blackberry, Zune and more. Not bad for software that runs under $70 and is optimized for what looks like nearly 12 threads! Our benchmark testing wasn't at 100% load, but averaged around 80-90% during the testing period.
Benchmark Results: Photodex Proshow Gold 4.1 software showed that the Intel Core i7 980X processor was 2.25x faster than the AMD Phenom II 965BE and 25% faster than the Intel Core i7 975 processor, as you can see above. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T finished in 55 seconds, which was just two seconds behind the Intel Core i7-930 processor!
HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It is popular today as it allows you to transcode multiple input video formats to h.264 output format and is highly multithreaded.
This workload is a 43-second HDV. The input file is encoded in Mpeg format. Video encode parameters are 23.9mbps, 1440*1080, 29.9fps. Audio encode parameters are 384 kbps, 48kHz, 2channel, mpeg audio version 1 layer 2. File size is 128MB. The workload is encoded into h.264 output format using the preset - high profile. HandBrake version 0.9.4 was used for benchmarking.
Benchmark Results: HandBrake version 0.9.4 software showed that the Intel Core i7 980X
processor was able to once again destroy the competition in this benchmark that was able to put an 80% load across all 12 processing threads. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T didn't do all that bad though as it was able to perform better than the Intel Core i7-930 processor and wasn't too far behind the Intel Core i7-975!
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 35Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 35a:
The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.
The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which, in a nutshell, allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend on purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 beta 35a, which is the most recent version available. The benchmark used all available cores to complete the render.
Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.
Benchmark Results: Looking at POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 35a, the Intel Core i7 980X processor dominates as usual, but AMD is in second place! The AMD Phenom II 1090T does very well in this benchmark! Even the Phenom II X6 1055T is able to beat out the Intel Core i7-930 processor, which is important as both can be found for $199.99 at retailers!
MAXON; CINEBENCH R11.5:
MAXON recently released CINEBENCH Release 11.5, an advanced hardware testing suite that assesses a computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on the same powerful technology as MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The new version of CINEBENCH includes the ability to more accurately test the industry’s latest hardware, including systems with up to 64 processor threads, and the testing environment better reflects the expectations of today’s production demands. A more streamlined interface makes testing systems and reading results incredibly straightforward. Again, higher Frames/Second and point score equal better performance.
Cinebench R11.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.
Benchmark Results: Running Cinebench R11.5 in 64-bit mode showed that the Intel Core i7 980X processor was 49.4% faster than the Intel Core i7 975 processor and more than twice as fast as the AMD 965 BE. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T scored 5.56 points in the multi-CPU test, which was just behind Intel's Core i7-975 quad-core processor.
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and hi-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. The PCMark Vantage benchmark was run in 64-bit mode for the results shown below.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor does slightly better in PCMark Vantage, but as you can see the benchmark shows the Intel processors leading in most of the test suites. The huge jump in the communications test on the Intel 980X processor is due to the fact that PCMark Vantage supports AES encryption and the Intel Core i7-980X processor supports AES-NI code!
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
The Entry settings were used for testing, so a resolution of 1024x768 was used.
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. Resident Evil 5 features similar gameplay to Resident Evil 4, with context-sensitive controls and dynamic cut scenes also making a return. The player can control Chris Redfield or Sheva Alomar in a similar fashion to Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4, with the same over-the-shoulder perspective.
All in game settings were set to their defaults with the exception of AA and VSync as both of those options were turned off.
Benchmark Results: At a resolution of 1920x1200 with no AA enabled we found the ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card appeared to be the limiting factor as the score didn't change much between the different platforms. With the resolution dropped down to 800 x 600 some performance differences can be seen, but who plays games on a $999 processor and $400 video card at 800 x 600? A small difference could be seen between the Intel Core i7 processors, but the gap grows larger when looking at the AMD series. Resident Evil 5 would appear to run on just six threads and that is likely the reason the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor at 3.2GHz was able to perform better than the 3.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4 processor. The AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processors 2.8GHz showed a significant performance drop, so it looks like you need more than 2.8GHz to get the most from a Radeon HD 5870 graphics card.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron) is an aerial warfare video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows. It was released in United States on March 6, 2009 and features Microsoft DirectX 10.1 game play.
The game has a built-in benchmark that is very tough on video cards!
For this game VSync was turned off, but
Antialiasing was turned on and set to 8x for better image quality.
All of the DirectX 10 options were set to high including Ambient occlusion (SSAO) on both the NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards. The game was patched with update v1.2, which was the most current patch.
Benchmark Results: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. was run in DirectX 10.1 mode with AA disabled. At high resolutions no significant differences were seen between the platforms, but at 800 x 600 we were able to see the Intel Core i7 series take the performance lead. H.A.W.X. appears to run on up to 9 threads from what we could tell, but the CPU load was only at 20% on our Core i7 980X processor as you can see from the task manager screen capture above. If you run multi-threaded applications you'll want six core processor, but when it comes to gaming, having a six-core processor isn't going to help you win any LAN parties.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl following the ending in which Strelok destroys the C-Consciousness. Having discovered the open path to the Zone's center, the government decides to stage a large-scale operation to take control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat utilizes the XRAY 1.6 Engine, allowing advanced modern graphical features through the use of DirectX 11 to be fully integrated; one outstanding feature being the inclusion of real-time GPU tessellation. Regions and maps feature photo realistic scenes of the region it is made to represent. There is also extensive support for older versions of DirectX, meaning that Call of Pripyat is also compatible with older DirectX 8, 9, 10 and 10.1 graphics cards.
The game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP has no internal benchmarking tools built into the game engine, but they do have a standalone benchmark available that we used for our testing purposes. The screen capture above shows the main window of the benchmark with our settings. Notice we are running Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting "DX10" as our renderer.
Results: With the game running enhanced full dynamic lighting (DX10) we found that the higher clocked quad-core processors were faster than all of the six-core processors from each respective brand. Not what you'd expect, but it goes to show you that not all games take advantage of more than quad-core processors.
Looking for a way to explain this, we turned to task manager and found that S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat isn't threaded too well. In fact we only saw signs of life in four of the 12 threads with the majority being loaded up in one thread on CPU0. This explains why the quad-cores take the lead in this benchmark!
Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple
power consumption tests on our test beds. To measure
idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with
no screen saver and took the measurement. For load measurements, POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 35a was run on all cores to make sure each and every processor
was at 100% load.
Results: The AMD Phenom II X4 and X6 processors that we tested are all 125W TDP parts and all perform roughly the same when it comes to power consumption. We just switched over to Corsair HX850W power supplies on the test bench and they are amazing 80 Plus Gold certified units. Thanks to the highly efficient power supplies and the Corsair P64 SSD on the test systems the idle and load usage numbers might shock many of you considering these are all high-end processors. The AMD Phenom II X6 processors use ~35W less power at idle than an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and 30-40W less at load. AMD looks strong when it comes to power consumption!
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Overclocking
Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.
With stock BIOS settings, the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor runs with a 200MHz bus speed (base clock) and an x16.0 multiplier that is used to reach the final core clock of 3.2GHz when all the cores are at full load.
We were able to lower the HT multiplier and push up the Bus Speed to 250MHz in the BIOS for a rock solid overclock of 4GHz on the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor.
We were able to reach just shy of 4.2GHz by lowering the HT multiplier again and increasing the CPU Voltage to +0.150V. It was benchmark stable, but only on lightly threaded applications. Keep in mind that this was done with air cooling, so as you can see even six-core processors are going to be fun overclocking parts. This is nearly a 1GHz overclock and is a success if you ask us!
To try out the overclock we fired up POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 35 and a number of other applications and found that the system was 100% stable at up to 251MHz x 16 and that is what we ran POV-Ray at for benchmarking. We were able to shave 11 seconds off our score and were able to nearly catch up to an Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition processor!
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The AMD Phenom II X6 processor series has been long needed and has helped narrow the performance gap between AMD and the Intel Core i7 processors by the release of these new 'Thuban' based processors. The addition of the 890FX chipset and even the software updates (AMD Fusion Utility 2.0 for basic
performance tuning and easy profile selection and the new AMD OverDrive
3.2.1 Utility) have made AMD a more well-rounded platform. AMD has spent the past several years becoming the company that had budget friendly platforms, but now they have a solid platform. If you think about it, the AMD 890 chipset series is very robust with features like native SATA III 6Gbps and then you top that off with 6-core processors and an ATI Radeon HD 5800 series graphics card and you have a cutting edge system. AMD has done well with the 'Leo' platform and the benchmark results show that.
As we stated in our Intel 980X article, having six physical processing cores creates an amazing user experience when running
multi-threaded applications. The enormous growth of HD media content in
the home is driving the demand for computer systems that have the
horsepower to deliver an enjoyable user experience for the consumer. If
you have ever tried to create a Blu-ray movie or just tried to transcode
some HD movies you know how much time it takes to work on a project and
that can be frustrating for those that do it often. These new six core processors help you improve productivity and can be a drop-in replacement for those with
existing socket AM2+ and AM3 motherboard. According to AMD at the time of launch, they expect there to be over 160 AM2+ and AM3 motherboards with BIOS updates available (where required) to enable support for the Phenom II X6 processors! This is great news as those with older platforms can spend $199 on a processor like the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T and have a 45nm 6-core processor as a drop-in replacement! For those that want more performance the $299 AMD Phenom II X6 1090T is of course the processor to have.
Not every testing scenario showed the benefits of having six-cores
and twelve threads, though. For example, in gaming we saw a little
performance boost here and there, but nothing significant at the
resolutions we actually play games on. Crank up the image quality and
the screen resolution and you'll be limited by the graphics card way
before the flagship processor of either company. The game developers
need to stop porting games over from consoles and walking away from
them! PC users deserve some solid code that takes advantage of 8 or more
threads. It was an eye opener to see some of our gaming benchmarks only
putting our processor under 20% load during testing! While we are on the subject of performance, AMD Turbo CORE technology is also a nice touch as most of the time you
aren't using your PC for heavy tasks and the clock frequency boost is
nice to have. It's one of those things that just works and if someone didn't point it out to you, that you'd never have any idea that it was working. That is how it's designed to work and it does it rather well.
One of the most impressive areas of the Phenom II X6 is the thermal performance of the processor. AMD has kept the TDP at 125W on these six-core processors and the thermals are impressive. With our XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 CPU cooler we were seeing 24C idle temperatures and 40C load temperatures when running Prime 95 on the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor. This is one of the reasons that we were able to take the 1090T up to 4.2GHz on air when overclocking it! With water cooling we'd expect consumers would be able to get these processors stable in the 4.2-4.5GHz range and that would make for one nice desktop processor for the price paid.
UPDATE: TigerDirect is doing a $50 rebate on the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T and 1055T, which is amazing for launch day! You can pick up the 1055T for just $149.99 shipped and the 1090T for $249.99 shipped.
Legit Bottom Line:
The AMD Phenom II X6 processor series makes AMD competitive with Intel once again in the mainstream market!