Several years ago, CPUs hit a brick wall on performance increases. CPU makers found that you simply couldn’t push a chip past 4.0 GHz without incurring ruinous heat penalties. The most (in)famous example of this was the Northwood series of Pentium 4 chips from Intel, which were ridiculed for being space heaters as much as they were processors. Since then, CPU makers have moved away from pure CPU clock speedups, attempting instead to get more done in the same number of cycles. Thus, the market for desktop and notebook processors has moved over almost exclusively to multi-core designs, where previously such was unheard-of outside of high-end academic and corporate environments.
With the rise of the green computing movement, another metric has become important to CPU makers: computes per watt. Getting more done with less juice is attractive not only for the reduced energy consumption, but also for reducing the amount of waste heat. Given the ever-shrinking size of CPU dies, reducing waste heat is a primary concern for keeping the system stable.
With those two concerns in mind, the 65W series of Phenom II X4 CPUs begins to make sense. Keeping what is nominally a high-performance CPU within that small thermal envelope helps to keep total system power-draw down, while not skimping on performance. Today we’ll be looking at the Phenom II X4 910e, the highest-performance edition of the 65W set to date from AMD.
|Processor||AMD Phenom™ II X4|
|Operating Mode 32 Bit||Yes|
|Operating Mode 64 Bit||Yes|
|Core Speed (MHz)||2600|
|Max Temps (C)||71′C|
|L1 Cache Size (KB)||128|
|L1 Cache Count||4|
|L2 Cache Size (KB)||512|
|L2 Cache Count||4|
|L3 Cache Size (KB)||6144|
|AMD Business Class||No|
The first four lines are model and make info, nothing exciting here. Past that, we see that this chip will operate in 32-bit or 64-bit modes with equal ease. The core speed is 2.6 GHz, which while on the high-end, doesn’t compare to the 3.0+ GHz speeds of AMD’s Black Edition chips. The voltage reading is interesting, as it can be safely stepped down to 68% of nominal voltage when at idle–reducing power consumption yet further. Virtualization support is also included, which helps greatly in VM applications.
Each core gets 128k of L1 cache to store data and instructions while they’re being processed, as well as 512k of L2 cache when that’s not enough. The four cores also share 6MB of L3 cache in common, which allows data to be held in common while it’s being worked on.
As expected, this chip is manufactured with a 45nm process, and supports AMD’s AM3 platform. It is not counted among the Black Edition chips, which means that the CPU is multiplier-locked.