AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition CPU Review - HotHardware

AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition CPU Review

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Although much of the scuttlebutt lately has revolved around AMD’s upcoming Llano and Bulldozer-based APUs, the company isn’t done pushing the envelope with their existing processor designs. In case you haven’t noticed, over the last few months AMD has continued to ramp up frequencies on their current bread-and-butter Phenom II processor line-up to the point where they’re now flirting with the 4GHz mark. We should also point out that AMD has done so with little disruption to their relatively low pricing structure; as a newer, faster processor is released in a given product family, it occupies the historic top spot while the existing products have simply been pushed down the stack to lower price points.

Maybe we’re being a bit optimistic, but today’s launch of the Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition marks the release of AMD’s highest clocked processor yet, technically speaking. While the six-core Phenom II X6 1100T can Turbo up to 3.7GHz on half of its cores under certain conditions, the new quad-core Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition’s default clock on all four of its cores is 3.7GHz, a mere 8.1% frequency boost away from the mythical 4GHz.

We’ve got a new Phenom II X4 Black Edition in house and have put it through its paces with a variety of benchmarks. Take a peek at the full specifications below and then read on for the full scoop on AMD’s highest-clocked processor released to date...

The Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition...

AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition
Specifications & Features
Phenom II X4 980 'Black Edition' Processor:
Model Number & Frequency: X4 980 / 3.7GHz
L1 Cache Sizes: 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total)
L2 Cache Sizes: 512KB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
L3 Cache Size: 6MB (shared)
Total Cache (L2+L3): 8MB
Memory Controller Type: Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller *
Memory Controller Speed: Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported: Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066) and PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333)
HyperTransport 3.0 Specification: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Processor-to-System Bandwidth: Up to 37.3GB/s total bandwidth [21.3 GB/s memory bandwidth + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Up to 33.1GB/s total bandwidth [17.1 GB/s memory bandwidth + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Packaging: Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Fab location: GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Die Size: 258mm2
Approximate Transistor count: ~758 million
Max TDP: 125 Watts
AMD Codename: "Deneb"
* Note: configurable for dual 64-bit channels for simultaneous read/writes


Looking at the specifications above, those of you familiar with AMD’s Phenom II X4 processors will immediately notice that the new Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition is a speed-bump of the tried-and-true Deneb core. Like previous Deneb-based Phenom II processors, the X4 980 BE sports a total of 512K of L1 cache (64K instruction and 64K data L1 cache per core), with 2MB of L2 cache (512K per core), and 6MB of shared L3 cache. The chips are produced on GlobalFoundries 45nm DSL SOI process node and are comprised of roughly 758 million transistors. As we’ve mentioned, the default clock speed of the Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition is 3.7GHz, but the max TDP remains within the traditional 125W envelope of its Black Edition predecessors. All of the other features and specifications of the X4 980 BE also remain unchanged from previous Deneb-based processors.

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Great Review, I was expecting the AMD processor to beat Intel in at least one test but I guess they are waiting until their next big release. Love to see competition between Intel and AMD which tends to equal improvements and better pricing for us consumers.

Intel gets the cake on this one though with the more powerful and energy conserving processor. The cake is double-layered and has strawberries.

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Great review Marco, I had no idea they were releasing another phenom x4. That puppy sucks down the juice!!!! I feel like most people have their 955 or 965 oc'd past 3.7 already and are waiting for bulldozer at this point before they upgrade.

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I'll be honest... i've given up on this line.... I dont care what cpu they come out with for this architecture, am going to wait to see whats next. Nothing against HH or Marco.... but this product, it feels almost redundant.

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maybe its just the mood i'm in (I dont have a job, and the weather in Toronto the past couple of weeks has been sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Gloomy), but after reading this article, i was just like... Meh, whatever AMD.

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So AMD put the most performance they can into this processor, just like what Intel did with it's 2006 Extreme Edition.

Not to say they're not bad processors but they're clearing out to make way for Bulldozer, which I'm very excited for.

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Can't really get all that excited about this processor  but it may be an upgrade for some that are just buying a bit of time before a total system upgrade .Just think that a 965/970 would be a much better value with the OC. would still need a better heatsink ...anyways how much time would one want to buy ?

Thanks Marco for the review and with grey and chilly weather around here lately [most unusual for May]

I'll take a prolonged kat-snooooze with this one.


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so... it gets it's ass kicked by an intel processor that is twice it's price? i'd rather get most of a new system at the same price that the i7 970 cost instead of paying double of what it should cost me to make a new rig...

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I was actually referring to:

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz  $140.00
AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition Deneb 3.6GHz  $190.00

not the Intel's at all,

for an upgrade for those that already have AM3 sockets.


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Worse. At NewEgg, the i7-970 is 3.65x more expensive than the Phenom II X4 970 but is only 20% faster at PCMarks, and 46% faster at "Communications" (whatever that is...).

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I think I see one of these in going into my rig very soon

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