AMD Spider Platform - Phenom, 790FX, RV670

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A few days ago, AMD officially unveiled their RV670 GPU, the chip at the heart of the ATI Radeon HD 3800 series of graphics cards.  Just in case you missed it on the day of the launch, our coverage of the new Radeon HD 3870 and HD 3850 cards is
available right here.  While we did thoroughly explain the RV670’s architecture and explored its performance in that article, we did not tell you that the new Radeon HD 3800 series is but one part of an entirely new platform from AMD dubbed “Spider”.

The rest of the Spider platform is comprised of not only new desktop processors, but core logic as well.  The second piece to the Spider puzzle is AMD’s native quad-core Phenom processor and the third is the new 7-series chipset.

News of Phenom and the 7-series chipset has been circulating for what seems like an eternity.  We’ve shown you glimpses of the platform and talked about its new features in a number of articles and news posts here at HotHardware.  But today we can finally give you all of the details and show you just how AMD’s new processors and chipsets perform.
 
Before we get started, some specifications are in order.  What we have for you in the table below are the main specifications and features of the AMD Phenom 9600 and 9500 processors.  Take a gander at the specifics and then strap yourself in as we take a hands-on look at AMD’s latest and greatest and even check out the Phenom 9700, which won’t be available until early next year.

 

 
AMD Phenom Retail Box

AMD Phenom Processors 
Specifications and Features

Model / Processor Frequency: AMD Phenom Processor Model 9600 / 2.3GHz
Model / Processor Frequency: AMD Phenom Processor Model 9500 / 2.2GHz
L1 Cache Sizes: 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1 per processor)
L2 Cache Sizes: 512KB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
L3 Cache Size: 2MB
Memory Controller Type: Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller, capable of being configured for dual 64-bit channels for simultaneous read/writes
Memory Controller Frequency: Up to 1.8GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory: Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz)
HyperTransport 3.0: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 3600MHz full duplex
Total Processor Bandwidth: Up to 31.5 GB/s bandwidth
Packaging: Socket AM2+ 940-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA) (backward compatible with Socket AM2)
Fab location: AMD's Fab 36 wafer fabrication facilities in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 65nm (.065-micron) Silicon on Insulator (SOI)
Approximate Transistor count: approx. 450 million (65nm)
Approximate Die Size: 285 mm2 (65nm)
Nominal Voltage: 1.1-1.25 Volts
Max Ambient Case Temp: 70 degrees Celsius
Max TDP: 95 Watts
ACP: *to be announced after launch
Future Memory Controller Note: Future 45nm processors versions are planned to include support for DDR3 memory


We have posted a wealth of information regarding AMD's processors and related core-logic chipsets over the last few months here at HotHardware.com. For some more background on the technologies employed by AMD's processors and platforms as a whole, we suggest taking a look at few of the related articles listed below. They contain detailed explanations of some of the features common to AMD's legacy products, compatible chipsets, and the enhancements make to various products over their lifetime:

We cover some specifics regarding AMD's current dual-core socket AM2 processor offerings in our FX-62 and 5000+ evaluation, and cover all of the details regarding the Quad-FX platform and the FX-70 series processors in that launch article.  The AMD Barcelona Architecture Launch: Native Quad-Core article is perhaps the most relevant, as we cover AMD's native quad-core architecture there, which is the basis of the Phenom processor we'll show you on the next page.  And then of course, there is our coverage of the new Radeon HD 3870 and HD 3850 cards, which are an integral part of the AMD Spider Platform.

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Good review, thank you. AMD needs to get more IPC though. Or something. We went the frequency to stay as low as possible to help power usage. I guess for this core design, all we can hope for is them to ramp up the frequency.... and hope that the next core can get massively better number at lower clocks. Other than buying one, I wish there was some way I could help them. I don't know anything about chip design and I'm pretty bad at math, so I'd be no use. But if I could help, I would.

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This one is easy, at least from my perspective. AMD needs to simply incorporate larger on-chip cache. They're currently in 65nm versus Intel's 45nm, so incorporating on-die cache is more expensive, die real estate-wise for AMD than it is for Intel. BUT that's the one true way to increase IPC efficiency and I'm fairly certain it's largely why Intel is faster clock for clock.

With smaller L2 cache, AMD has to go "off chip" for data more often than Intel's architecture does. This was a necessity for Intel, since their FSB arch limits their available bandwidth going off chip versus HyperTransport for AMD which has a lot more bandwidth. However, regardless, if you have to go off chip to process, rather than stuffing a bunch more in cache and then just pipelining, it's going to cost you performance.

If AMD had 8 to 12MB of on-chip L2, things might look decidedly different but that would cost a bit in power and heat as well, especially at 65nm, which is another story all together and something that AMD is obviously dealing with as well.

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i got to agree good review 

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Hundred percent agree, stuff a load of cache on chip, crank up the 45nm process time frame, and maybe stand a chance with performance against Intel.  I think partially it's in doing so they'll increase the cost and so lose their one solid edge against Intel.  If they weren't cheaper right now who'd buy. 

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The AMDs are not worth it at all, not only they perform poorly compared to the Intel Quad-Cores, but also use more power than the most powerful Intel Processor now. Excellent Review by the way. :)

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Progress is progress, however meager it may be. It would be nice if AMD were more of a threat to Intel, rather than always one step behind. Hopefully they will be able to shorten the gap with their 45nm chips, but by the time they get them out Intel may verywell be onto bigger (or smaller) and better things.

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AjayD:

Progress is progress, however meager it may be. It would be nice if AMD were more of a threat to Intel, rather than always one step behind. Hopefully they will be able to shorten the gap with their 45nm chips, but by the time they get them out Intel may verywell be onto bigger (or smaller) and better things.

 

And that is indeed happening, Nehalem will slap Shanghai right out the door...I'm predicting it now...so in 7-9 months from now..I'll be the first to say I tell everyone I told you so Stick out tongue.

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