AMD Launches 3.2GHz Version of Phenom II CPU

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

AMD's latest CPU is evolutionary in nature and bumps the clock speed of the four-core Phenom II to 3.2GHz.

The latest Advanced Micro Devices CPU to hit the market relies on the good old trick of increasing the clock speed to raise performance levels. AMD’s new champ is the Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition, which is set to supersede the Phenom II x4 940 Black Edition as AMD's new top-of-the-line processor.

We took a quick look at the 955 to see if it does push the performance envelope an appreciable amount and found that, under initial testing, the 955 is some 15 percent faster than the 940. We took a very straightforward approach to testing the 955; we simply yanked out the 940 in our AMD test system (see "AMD Guns for Intel's Nehalem with the Phenom II")  and replaced it with the 955.

Our test system uses an ASUS M3A78-T motherboard, which required an update to the latest BIOS to support the 955. The M3A78-T is an old standby and was developed during the days of AM2+ sockets. Of course, there are newer motherboards on the market, which offer DDR3 RAM support and other features that can squeeze a little more speed out of the 955 (and even the 940) Phenom II CPUs. But by using the M3A78-T, we were able to create the most level playing field possible.

We tested the Phenom II x4 955 using the 64-bit version of Performance Test 7.0 from Passmark. Our test operating system was Windows Vista 64-bit Ultimate edition. With the 955 in place, the system offered an overall Passmark score of 1056.7 and a CPUmark score of 4,019.7—a decent improvement over the 940, which scored 904.1 and 3,348.6, respectively.

Using the newest version of AMD’s Overdrive utility, we were able to experiment with different clock speeds on the 955 and found that, with our test system, we were able to run the 955 at 3.8GHz reliably. That increased our Passmark score to 1,146.5 and our CPUmark score to 4,846.4, a worthwhile increase.

The Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition will be priced at $245, and AMD is aiming to have the CPU compete with Intel’s $270 2.83GHz Core 2 Quad Q9550, which has a CPUmark score of 4,196.1. A wise target on AMD's part, since none of AMD’s current processors can come close in performance to Intel’s Nehalem CPUs.

System builders should expect no surprises from the Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition, which in this case is a good thing. The CPU will quickly drop into current Phenom II configurations, making the transition to a faster CPU very simple, while cutting costs by a few dollars.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com