Friday, 20 August 2010 13:14

Phenom II X6 in the lab

Written by Eliot Kucharik

amd_phenom_x6_front_small recommended08_75 
Review: Affordable Hexa-Cores

It has been a while since we tested some CPUs. Since about three months AMD is selling it's first Hexa-Core generation, namely the Phenom II X6 1055T and the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition. Both CPUs are still manufactured in a 45nm SOI process, but still keeping the TDP envelope of 125W. That's the same TDP as many other Phenom II X4 but with two cores less. We were lucky and got a sample of the new 95W TDP version of the 1055T which is an incredible achievement for AMD to fit six cores in such a TDP.


While Intel upped the L3 cache on its hexa-cores it's the same on the X6 with 6MB. The cores themselves retain their 512kB L2 cache and 64kB L1 caches for data and instructions. With an affordable price point of just €174/$199 for the 1055T and €252/$299 for the 1090T AMD is attacking the lower cost Intel quad-core CPUs such as i5-750 and i5-760. As you can see from the picture of the dice, AMD just added two cores to an existing quad-core but of course tweaked the design. 



MSI 890GXM-E65 (provided by MSI)
AMD 890GX/SB850

MSI 790FX-GD70 (provided by MSI)
AMD 790GX/SB750
ASRock H55M Pro (provided by ASRock)
Intel H55

Intel Pentium G6950, i3-530 (provided by Mindfactory)
AMD Athlon II X2 240e, 245, Phenom II X4 620, Phenom II X6 1090T (provided by AMD)
 AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (95W) (provided by ASRock, we appreciate the superb support)

Scythe Grand Kama Cross (provided by Scythe-Europe)

G.Skill 4GB Kit PC3-12800 (provided by G.Skill)
1067MHz CL7-7-7-20 CR1T 1.30V for Athlon II X2, Pentium G6950
1333MHz CL7-7-7-20 CR1T 1.35V for Athlon II X4, Phenom II X4/X6, i3-530, i5-750

Graphics Card:
MSI R4850-2D1G-OC (provided byMSI)

Power supply:
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W (provided by PC Power & Cooling)

Hard disk:
Samsung F1 1000GB RAID-Edition (provided by Ditech)

Case fans:
SilenX iXtrema Pro 14dB(A) (provided by
Scythe DFS122512LS

Cooler Master Stacker 831 Lite (provided by Cooler Master)

All tests are performed with XP SP3. As 64-bit software is still not very common, we stick to the 32-bit version. We will change to Windows 7 when we swap the graphics card for a DX11 capable one.


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Last modified on Friday, 20 August 2010 12:30
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+7 #1 anno 2010-08-20 20:42
Excellent review. :) It was very good to see the system cost and cost per performance graphs, when so many other review site ignore that aspect all together. And that while it's one of the key factors in deciding what to buy.

The conclusion was to be expected, and is in all honesty already fairly well known.

In some cases additional cores benefit games too though:

This will likely hold more and more true in the future - at least, when the graphics card isn't a bottleneck.
+6 #2 blandead 2010-08-20 21:06
"Would we use later software version of the x264 codec AMD would have beaten an Intel i7-975, but as you know to retest every platfrom and CPU takes lots time."

I hope people didn't overlook this comment. Just goes to show you when more programs are optimized to use all 6-cores, how much better these processors can be even compared to the i7-975
+9 #3 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-20 22:17
Nope blandead, it's not just about the programs themselves but the compiler.

This just shows that when using GNU C Compiler, both AMD and Intel platforms can perform good. But when using some intel compiler, it will actually reduce the performance of the competition. And guess what, most benchmarks are compiled exactly in that compiler.
+2 #4 blandead 2010-08-21 20:28
I'm sure there are other factors, but nonetheless if a program is optimized to use all 6 cores it brings huge improvements to these chips over any quad core. what i said was not wrong, if you wanna add more info go ahead, but my logic holds true.
0 #5 Peter Ong 2010-08-22 04:36
Does database server, Java EE apps benefited from 6 cores? Thanks in advance for anyone casting some light here.
+1 #6 blandead 2010-08-22 06:22
database server would surely benefit I do not know about Java EE
0 #7 Jaberwocky 2010-08-22 10:30
Err Chaps.It's all in the cache.I run a 1055T o/clocked to 3.4 Ghz.It's the 6MB cache that is limiting.A baseline for Rendering a scene with just 2 core enabled works out at 100%, so if you enable all 6 cores it should speed the rendering to 300%.IE 3X as fast.Wrong.It actually renders at around 230%.Implying that once the 6MB cache is distributed amongst all 6 cores ,it becomes the bottleneck.If AMD could work on this and double the amount of on board cache then they would have a performer on their hands.
+5 #8 anno 2010-08-22 12:09
Jaberwocky, it could be that you're right, but that's not necessarily true. There are more resources shared between the cores, for instance the memory interface and northbridge and hypertransport switch. Even with double the cache you will never see 100% scaling in chips, that's practically impossible. You don't see it with Gulftown either, which by the way has less cache per core too, seeing as Intel uses inclusive caches.

Of course I'm sure you understand that Thuban is already quite large and increasing its size would reduce yields, and so making it more expensive than you'd expect. It's all trade offs. :)
-1 #9 Bl0bb3r 2010-08-22 15:36
Quoting blandead:
I'm sure there are other factors, but nonetheless if a program is optimized to use all 6 cores it brings huge improvements to these chips over any quad core. what i said was not wrong, if you wanna add more info go ahead, but my logic holds true.

Yes, in theory.. but in reality things are quite different. You can optimize all you want, a rigged compiler will screw with those optimizations anyway.

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