The Secret is Out: AMD TWKR CPUs!!A few weeks ago rumors about an AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR processor hit the internet after a system builder posted a little more than he was supposed to on his private blog. A small metal black box also arrived here at Reviews Site, but we honored the NDA that we agreed to with AMD and kept our knowledge of the AMD Phenom II Black Edition TWKR processor under wraps.
Today, that pesky NDA that we agreed to has been lifted and we can freely talk about the TKWR processors that AMD sent out to key press and overclockers. Before we go any further let's take a look at the basic AMD Phenom II TWKR CPU Details:
- AMD created a small number of limited edition “TWKR” processors expressly for the extreme overclocking community in appreciation for their record performance feats with Dragon platform technology and AMD Phenom II processors. These processors are designed to reach the utmost performance barriers of the AMD Phenom II processor and operate beyond the specifications of typical production level processors.
- Called the AMD Phenom II X4 42 Black Edition TWKR processor, it is not for sale, and not covered by AMD’s product warranty. This processor is provided “as is” and AMD is not liable for any damages, of any type or character (including without limitation, system damage, loss of data or personal injury) caused as a result of using this processor. The processor will be distributed at this time solely through AMD promotional means.
- Under extreme low temperatures (liquid nitrogen and liquid helium cooling), TWKR processors can reach clock frequencies and near absolute zero temperatures previously unheard of for x86 quad-core processors.
- These processors demonstrate the sound engineering and superior process technology that is in each AMD Phenom II processor.
Opening up the box that garnered the nickname 'Pandora's box' around our test lab, we discovered the handpicked AMD Phenom II 42 Black Edition TWKR processor. It's not every day you get a processor delivered to your door step that was handpicked to be an overclocking winner and will never be for sale to the public. This is every overclocker's dream and we are more than willing to overclock this little guy to the max!
Taking a closer look at the AMD Phenom II TWKR Black Edition Processor we see that the processor has a part number of 42. We contacted AMD and they said that they had to give the part a model number and picked 42 as it means 4 cores at 2 GHz. They also stated that it’s "a bit of an homage to ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ as it is the answer to What is the meaning of life, the universal and everything..."
We weren't too sure about the whole '42' part number, but once we fired up the processor it started to click as the processor defaults to a 2GHz clock frequency. Now the whole 4 cores at 2 GHz makes some sense. Since this is a fully unlocked Black Edition processor it will never be run with these settings other than the very first time the system is fired up.
Here is a quick look at the CPU-Z v1.52.0 showing off the vital stats of our TWKR processor. The processor is your run of the mill Phenom II X4 and features 6 MB shared of L3 cache. Each individual core also features 64 KB of L1 Data cache, 64 KB of L1 Instruction cache, and 512 KB of L2 cache. The TWKR CPU has the same revision and stepping of the CPU we used in our Phenom II X4 955 CPU review, so it's just a handpicked and binned processor. Let's ask AMD a few questions about TWKR and get to overclocking!
The Truth Behind TWKR CPUsAMD also posted up this rather nifty little overclocking video featuring K|ngp|n, chew*, and Gomeler.
Since the AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR 42 Black Edition processors are something special, we figured that we'd sit down with the AMD marketing team from Austin and ask them a few questions.
Why is AMD sending out TWKR processors?
To give the hardcore enthusiast/overclockers some love. There has been a lot of support and AMD wanted to give back with parts that have characteristics that are specifically attractive to OC’rs: can handle more voltage and scale really well under extreme conditions (LN2 and LHe).
What does the name TWKR stand for?
Nothing too clever here – tweaker – the affectionate name we’ve given to those talented few that really know the in’s and out’s of extreme overclocking
So a site that said this is incorrect: "AMD has said that TWK stands for "Those Who Know".
In one of John Taylor’s blogs he talks about TWK (tweaks) as ‘those who know.' The TWKR processor does play on that, too, to some extent. In each case it’s talking about people AMD cares about – tweakers of AMD processors and those that know.
Why does the processor top say 42 on it?
We had to give the part a model number so we went for 42 (4 cores at 2 GHz) and also it’s a bit of an homage to ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ as it is the answer to What is the meaning of life, the universal and all things…
How much higher of an overclock should we expect over a Phenom II X4 955?
About 100MHz on air and about 200MHz with extreme cooling…at least that’s what we’ve seen, but as usual, individual results may vary based on their specific part and their experience/skill.
So, 100 MHz to 200 MHz faster than a Phenom II 955 overclock... What happened to the rumored 500MHz faster a few weeks back?
As for 500MHz better…I don’t remember anyone claiming that. You guys have the parts so I’d be curious what you accomplish and how that compares to your 955 results.
Some people say that TWKR's are just early Phenom II X4 965's? True?
No. And I have to say a lot of information out there right now on 965 is not correct.
Will this ever go retail and if so what is pricing?
Right now this is just for the good of the community and not for sale.
How rare are these processors? Are they 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 100,000?
There are less than 100 of these that I know of, and unlike our competitor we don’t have the means or process in place to sort through thousands of processors. All AMD Phenom II processors have great potential and we have a few secrets on what we look for as the glass comes off the line…so far we’ve found what we’re looking for. When everything performs well it isn’t too tough to find fast chips.
To start out testing the new TWKR processor we placed it the MSI DKA790GX Platinum motherboard with BIOS version 1.7 to see what it could do. This motherboard has overclocked all of our Phenom II socket AM2 and AM3 processors, so it will give us an idea how much more it can overclock beyond our Phenom II X4 955 processor.
We were able to reach 3.9GHz on the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor with the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 air cooled heat sink.
We were able to reach 4.0GHz on the AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR 42 processor with the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 air cooled heat sink. This is an improvement of 100MHz on air, but we had to bump the voltage up to 1.46V rather than the 1.45V used to max out the Phenom II 955 processor. Basically, the processor was able to run another 0.1V more CPU Core Voltage which was good enough to reach an extra 100MHz. During our interview with AMD they said a 100MHz overclock was expected on air and that is exactly what we saw.
Let's take a look at some Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) overclocking and see how that looks.
Liquid Nitrogen TWKR Results
For our liquid nitrogen testing we insulated the motherboard with a combination of artist eraser and Vaseline and mounted our K|ngp|n F1EE liquid nitrogen pot on top of the CPU with a dab of Arctic Silver Ceramique for the thermal compound. After pulling the pot down to around -188 Celsius we began our runs starting with 3DMark 2006. We were using a Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P with two Corsair Dominator GT 1866C7 2GB modules, two AMD HD4870x2 video cards at 822MHz core 950MHz memory, and a single Corsair HX1000 PSU powering the entire system.
Next up we began testing for maximum frequency with all four cores enabled. We had to push the vcore up to 1.8v to achieve the following screenshot and it was only stable long enough to save the image before blue-screening. Regardless, this shows that with additional testing it should be possible to run 3DMark 2006 at a slightly faster frequency.
At the end of the day the AMD Phenom II 42 TWKR processor was a blast to play with. Compared to our two retail Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processors the TWKR was around 100MHz higher through 3DMark06, but a whopping 300MHz higher with the CPU-Z max frequency. If we can source more LN2 it'd be interesting to see how each individual core performs but overall it is safe to say the TWKR will scale roughly 100MHz to 200MHz higher than the average retail Phenom II X4 955 no matter what cooling method you are using.
Reaching nearly 6.6GHz on a Phenom II X4 processor was an awesome experience and it just goes to show how far these cores can go with the right cooling. AMD has done a great job with the Phenom II processors and the TWKR edition processors really highlight that success.