New Phenom II in Detail
As a matter of fact, the newly announced CPUs are not particularly new. They are just clocked at higher frequencies thanks to the improved tech process. We are not talking new core steppings or redesigns here, so there is nothing unexpected about the new products’ specs.
The new Phenom II X6 1075T is an intermediary product in terms of frequency, fitting in between the earlier released Phenom II X6 1090T and 1055T. We have been expecting this model for a long time, actually, as this 3.0GHz processor was promised to us at the original announcement of AMD’s six-core series.
The quad-core Phenom II X4 970 is 100 MHz faster than the ex-flagship of its series, reaching a clock rate of 3.5 GHz. It has a somewhat mysterious background because we have been expecting AMD to offer a quad-core CPU based on the six-core Thuban die with two cores turned off. AMD had such plans at first but gave up the idea eventually. Unlocking disabled CPU cores in not a problem today and the sales of AMD’s expensive six-core CPUs might suffer if its quad-core CPUs were based on Thuban dies. Therefore, against our hope, the Phenom II X4 970 is a quad-core Deneb. This is AMD’s official position confirmed by the samples the company provided to hardware reviewers.
However, we have learned from unofficial sources that the Thuban-based Phenom II X4 970 will exist because it is not profitable for AMD to scrap all defective six-core CPUs. However, the company will try to do everything to prevent such CPUs from getting into ordinary users’ hands. It means they will be shipped through OEM channels and are not expected to sell freely. On the other hand, it is not often that AMD successfully differentiates its products in such a way, so we won’t be surprised to see the unlockable Phenom II X4 970 selling in retail in some regions. But not in mass quantities all over the world, of course.
It must be noted that increasing the frequency of the Deneb core to 3.5 GHz has not been easy for AMD. We infer this from the fact that our sample of Phenom II X4 970 is rated for a voltage of 1.4 volts, which is the top limit for Phenom II processors with a TDP of 125 watts. As a consequence, our Phenom II X4 970 is quite hot at work, resembling early C2-revision Phenom II X4 965 processors whose TDP was even lifted to 140 watts. AMD’s people told us that the company had managed to improve the thermal parameters of the new quad-core Phenom II X4 model at the last moment, though. Thanks to ongoing tech process improvements, the off-the-shelf samples will be colder and more overclockable than the prototypes. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a mature sample of Phenom II X4 970 before the announcement and cannot refute or confirm this fact.
The third new processor is a dual-core Phenom II X2 560 with a clock rate of 3.3 GHz. Besides its appealing $100 price and Black Edition marking, it is based on a full-featured quad-core Deneb die in which two cores are turned off by the manufacturer but can be with some luck enabled by the user.
Unfortunately, Turbo Core technology is only implemented in the six-core model out of the three new Phenom II processors. Thanks to it, the clock rate of the Phenom II X6 1075T can be dynamically increased from its default 3.0 GHz to 3.5 GHz when only three or fewer cores are in use. This technology being a unique feature of the Thuban die, it is easy to understand why it is not available on the Phenom II X4 970 and Phenom II X2 560.