AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition
By now AMD has already launched two modifications of their quad-core processors based on the so-called Stars micro-architecture and targeted for desktop systems. They are Phenom 9500 and 9600 designed to work at 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz respectively. In addition to these two processors the company also offered a third one – Phenom 9600 Black Edition. This processor has the same frequency and other characteristics as the regular Phenom 9600, but is targeted for computer enthusiasts and hence features an unlocked clock frequency multiplier that may come in very handy during overclocking experiments. Note that the price of the new AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition is the same as that of the regular Phenom 9600.
As for the formal specifications of the new processor, they are as follows:
AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition
4 x 512 KB
Supported memory types
North Bridge frequency
1.8 GHz (HyperTransport 3.0)
65 nm, SOI
Typical heat dissipation
1.1 - 1.25 V
MMX(+), 3DNow!(+), SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4A
Please check out the following articles for more theoretical and architectural details on AMD Phenom processors:
Note that AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition is based on the same B2 core stepping as the previous processors from this family. It means that Black Edition is also not free from the notorious “TLB bug” that should be eliminated on the hardware level in B3 core stepping scheduled to arrive in the end of this quarter.
Here I have to point out a few things regarding the specification of the Phenom CPU in question. Namely, I would like to remind you that new AMD processors and Phenom 9600 Black Edition support two memory controller operational modes called Ganged and Unganged. In the first case, the CPU communicates with the memory along 128-bit memory bus, just like Athlon 64, and in the second case – in the new mode – it can work with two independent 64-bit channels that may be very helpful in multi-threaded environments.
We would also like to add that Phenom processors are backward compatible with the usual Socket AM2 mainboards, however, in this case they lose DDR2-1066 SDRAM and HyperTransport 3.0 support as well as the option to independently manage core voltages and frequencies.
We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that Phenom processor has slightly lowered frequency of HyperTransport 3.0 and embedded North Bridge (and L3 cache). It equals 1.8GHz. All further Phenom processor models will have these units working at higher frequency of 2.0GHz, which is very likely to ensure some performance improvement. By the way, the first Phenom engineering samples that we tested in our earlier reviews featured 2GHz North Bridge and HyperTransport 3.0 bus.
Phenom 9600 Black Edition processor looks quite commonly. It looks just like the regular Phenom 9600. Only the letter “Z” in the sixth position of the processor marking indicates that it features unlocked clock frequency multiplier (the regular processors have “0” there).
There is an opinion that AMD specifically selects the most overclockable semiconductor dies for their Black Edition CPUs, but it is hardly true. The current overclocking statistics indicates that the average frequencies obtained during maximum overclocking of AMD’s quad-core processors do not depend on the fact whether these CPUs belong to overclocking series or not.
CPU-Z diagnostic utility reports the following about Phenom 9600 Black Edition processor:
Note that there is no way to determine from the screenshot above whether this CPU belongs to the Black Edition series or not.
We get the same picture from AMD’s own OverDrive diagnostic tool.
At the same time, please, take a look at a round green “Turbo” indicator button in the upper right corner of the information window. It reports the TLB patch status and allows enabling it from the system OS. No outlining on the button indicates that the patch has been activated, yellow or red outlining signal that the correction of this bug has been deactivated. Moreover, when the outlining is red, additional performance boosting algorithms based on disabling some of the power-saving functions kick in.