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AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE Review

By Vince Freeman January 9, 2009

Introduction

The first generation Phenom processors didn't exactly get AMD off to a great start, but the second revision of Phenom X3 and X4 models, complete with TLB bug-free cores, was a step in the right direction. Now we're ready to welcome in a third generation of the AMD Phenom, this time with a new Phenom II name, a 45nm core, larger L3 cache levels, and higher clock speeds. This is an important release for AMD, as it will determine how the company will fare against not only the Intel Core 2 lineup, but also the Core i7 models.

The Phenom II X4 Architecture

The Phenom II X4 sports an architecture that is very similar to the existing Phenom X4 processors, but this time built on a 45nm SOI process. It is a native quad core processor, with four individual cores and a shared L3 cache. Each of the Phenom II X4 cores has the same 64K + 64K of L1 instruction/data cache (512KB total L1 per processor) and 512KB of L2 cache (2MB total L2 cache), but the die shrink has allowed AMD to increase the L3 cache. Instead of the 2MB of shared L3 found on the current Phenom X3 and X4 models, the Phenom II upgrades this to a full 6MB.

The Phenom II X4 remains a Socket AM2+ processor, and features an onboard, dual-channel/128-bit DDR2 memory controller, with support for up to DDR2-1066 memory. AMD will introduce Phenom II processors supporting DDR3 memory, but with the low cost of DDR2, it makes sense to go this route for the initial release. The dual 64-bit controllers support 128-bit dual-channel access (ganged) or 64-bit read/write channels (unganged) formats. The Phenom II X4 supports Cool'n'Quiet 3.0, which can dynamically change the clock speeds and voltages of each individual core.

The Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition

The shift to 45nm has provided at least one major benefit - higher clock speeds. The Phenom II X4 940 debuts at a full 3.0 GHz, compared to only 2.6 GHz for the flagship Phenom X4 9950. This provides AMD with a double-edged sword, as the larger L3 cache combined with the higher clock speed should provide greater performance than current Phenom X4 models. The new processor runs at a voltage of 0.875-1.5V, which is wider range than the 1.05-1.30V of the Phenom X4 9950. The TDP specification is 125W, which is on par with the Phenom X4 9750 and 9850, and lower than the 140W TDP of the X4 9950.

This is also a "Black Edition" model, and features an unlocked multiplier that is tailor-made for overclocking. AMD is also introducing a standard 2.8 GHz Phenom II X4 920, which will ship locked. Street prices are also very attractive for the new line, with the Phenom II X4 920 set at $235 and the X4 940 at $275. The only real surprise with the Phenom II X4 940 is the HyperTransport speed, which is limited to 1.8 GHz, rather than the full 2.0 GHz enjoyed by the high-end Phenom X4 series. This was a concession to hit release dates, and upcoming AM3 models will run at full 2.0 GHz HT speeds.

Processor Clock Cores HT Speed L2/L3 TDP $1KU
Phenom X3 8450 2.1 GHz 3 1.8 GHz 1.5MB/2MB 95W $104
Phenom X3 8650 2.3 GHz 3 1.8 GHz 1.5MB/2MB 95W $104
Phenom X3 8750 2.4 GHz 3 1.8 GHz 1.5MB/2MB 95W $124
Phenom X4 9150e 1.8 GHz 4 1.6 GHz 2MB/2MB 65W $174
Phenom X4 9350e 2.0 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/2MB 65W $174
Phenom X4 9550 2.2 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/2MB 95W $154
Phenom X4 9650 2.3 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/2MB 95W $154
Phenom X4 9750 2.4 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/2MB 95W $154
Phenom X4 9750 2.4 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/2MB 125W $154
Phenom X4 9850 BE 2.5 GHz 4 2.0 GHz 2MB/2MB 125W $174
Phenom X4 9950 BE 2.6 GHz 4 2.0 GHz 2MB/2MB 140W $174
Phenom II X4 920 2.8 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/6MB 125W $235
Phenom II X4 940 BE 3.0 GHz 4 1.8 GHz 2MB/6MB 125W $275

This release also marks the introduction of the AMD Dragon platform, which is a synthesis of the Phenom II X4 processor, the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series graphics and the AMD 790GX chipset, used in tandem with AMD software like OverDrive 3.0.


  • Page 1 AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE Review
    Page 2 Test Setup and Benchmark Software
    Page 3 PCMark05 Pro Performance
    Page 4 PCMark Vantage Performance
    Page 5 SiSoft SANDRA 2009 Performance
    Page 6 Everest Ultimate Edition Memory Performance
    Page 7 CINEBENCH 9.5/10 and WinRAR Performance
    Page 8 MPEG-2, DivX, WMV, and High-Def Video Encoding Performance
    Page 9 3DMark06 Pro, 3DMark Vantage and Crysis Performance
    Page 10 Company of Heroes, UT3, World in Conflict, & ET: Quake Wars Performance
    Page 11 Benchmark Analysis, Overclocking and System Power Consumption
    Page 12 Value and Conclusion

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