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Home > Hardware Reviews > PC Parts

Monday, October 20, 2008
AMD Phenom X4 9950BE

1. The AMD Phenom X4 Quad-Core Processors

AMD recently dropped the price of the Phenom series dramatically. You can now buy an AMD Phenom Quad Core for less than what you need for an Intel C2Q processor. What we need to find out later on in this review is whether an AMD Phenom Quad core processor performs in various applications and 3D graphic games.

AMD Phenom processors represent the next generation of AMD’s multi-core Direct Connect Architecture with AMD64 technology enabling greater memory throughput, lower latency and faster connections to system resources including graphics processors and accelerators.

Featuring what AMD calls "true quad-core technology", AMD Phenom are designed for performance and energy efficiency.

The latest versions of the AMD Phenom X4 series 9x50 are free from the "famous" TLB bug so you don't have to worry about this anymore. The X4 9x50 series include several models such as 9550, 9650, 9750, 9850 and 9950 Black Edition. A comparison table follows as found over AMD's web site:

AMD Phenom™ X4 Quad-Core Processor
Model Number

Frequency

Total L2 Cache

L3 Cache
Packaging Thermal Design Power CMOS Technology
9950
2.6GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
140W
65nm SOI
9850
2.5 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
125W
65nm SOI
9750
2.4 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
125W/
95W
65nm SOI
9650
2.3 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
95W
65nm SOI
9550
2.2 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
95W
65nm SOI
9350e
2.0 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
65W
65nm SOI
9150e
1.8 GHz
2MB
2MB
socket AM2+
65W
65nm SOI

We see that the majority of the of 9x50 series have the same amount of L2/L3 cache, while their frequency varies. Also notice that the power requirements (TDP) of the 9950 are different so you make sure your motherboard is designed for 140Watt before buying the CPU. The HT 3.0 but speed is at 2.0GHz, while the stock voltage is set at 1.30V. Hopefully later this year, AMD will move to the 45nm manufacturing process and it will offer increased frequencies overall overclocking capabilities.

In this review we will have a look at the AMD Phenom X4 9950 that features 2MB of L2 cache or 512KB per core. The available L3 cache is also 2MB and as it is works as a buffer between the four cores, it should help the performance.

The AMD Phenom X4 9950 also comes with the "BE" letters, which represent the "Black Edition" naming. This means that the CPU multiplier is unlocked and as such, it can be overclocked without much hassle and extra knowledge.

- Compatibility

While the Phenom X4 processors should be paired with AM2+ motherboards, it is possible that even the earlier AM2 motherboards could support them with a BIOS update. However we are not very sure that the X4 9950 BE can be installed on an AM2 motherboard since it it requires 140Watt design. In fact, using an AM2+ motherboard should give you the highest possible speeds, effectively boosted by the use of the faster DDR2-1067MHz and not the previous clocking of 800MHz.

- Specifications

AMD64 Technology
Yes
Simultaneous 32- & 64-bit computing
Yes
L1 Cache (Instruction + Data) per core
128KB (64KB + 64KB)
L2 Cache (512KB per core)
2MB or 1.5MB
L3 Cache
2MB
HyperTransport™ Technology
HyperTransport™ technology up to 4000MT/s full duplex, or up to 16.0GB/s I/O Bandwidth
Integrated DDR2 Memory Controller
yes
Memory Controller Width
128-bit
Type of Memory Supported
PC2-8500(DDR2-1066) PC2 6400(DDR2-800), PC2 5300(DDR2-667), PC2 4200(DDR2-533), and PC2 3200(DDR2-400) unbuffered memory
Memory Bandwidth
up to 17.1 GB/s dual channel memory bandwidth
Total Processor-to-system Bandwidth (HyperTransport plus memory bandwidth)
up to 33.1 GB/s
Process Technology
65 nanometer, SOI (silicon-on-insulator) Technology
Packaging
socket AM2+ (940-pin) organic micro PGA
Thermal Design Power
140W, 125W, 95W, 65W
Die Size
65nm: 285mm2
Number of Transistors
65nm: ~450 million
Manufacturing Sites
Fab 36 in Dresden , Germany




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