AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition CPU Review

Introduction and Specifications

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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