AMD Phenom II X6 1090T and 1055T Six-Core Processor Review
AMD Phenom II X6 Processors ArriveThe 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: AM3 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
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.
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|
|Processor||Phenom II X4/X6|
|Memory||4GB Kingston HyperX T1 DDR3|
|Video Card||Radeon HD 5870|
|Hard Drive||Corsair P64|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX850W|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit|
SiSoftware Sandra 2010c
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.
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!
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!
x264 HD Encoding
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.
Photodex ProShow Gold 4.1
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 35
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!
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.
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 VantageThe Entry settings were used for testing, so a resolution of 1024x768 was used.
Resident Evil 5All 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.
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 PripyatThe 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.
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!
Overclocking AMD Phenom II X6 1090TOverclocking 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!
Overclocking AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
AMD Phenom II x6 1055T is not a Black Edition Processor thats why it does not overclock by setting multiplier. It only overclocks 100mhz to 300mhz stable by increasing Motherboard FSB.
Unlocking Cores - Secrets
Phenom II X6 1090T / 1055T is a Hexa-core processors. There are no cores to unlock b/c of no disabled core.
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.
The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T / 1055T processor makes AMD competitive with Intel once again in the mainstream market!
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