AMD Phenom X4 9850 B3 Revision

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It doesn't take a genius to figure out that AMD's initial Phenom processor launch didn't go exactly as planned.  The first batch of retail-ready Phenom processors were clocked lower than expectations and in the days leading up to the launch, the now infamous TLB bug reared its ugly head.  If you're not aware, all initial Phenom and Opteron quad-core processors based on the Barcelona architecture were plagued by an errata that could cause a system crash under certain circumstances.  The errata involves the processor's translation lookaside buffer or "TLB" and L3 cache.  Keep in mind, every processor has some sort of errata, but it usually isn't cause for concern, nor does it manifest itself in any real-world application performance.  In many cases processor errata can be worked-around via BIOS or software patches and end users are none the wiser.  With the Phenom's TLB errata though, working around the problem involved a significant performance penalty.

Obviously aware of the problem, AMD's engineers immediately went to work crafting a new revision of the native quad-core Phenom silicon that resolved the TLB errata.  And today that new revision is ready.  Quad-core Phenom processors based on the new B3 revision silicon should be hitting store shelves in the not too distant future.  In addition to resolving the TLB bug, AMD is also unveiling some higher clocked Phenoms and tri-core and low-power models too.

We've got AMD's latest and greatest Phenom processor, the Phenom X4 9850, on the test bench and have our findings posted for you here.  First up, the specifications...

AMD Phenom Retail Box

AMD Phenom Processors 
Specifications and Features

Model / Processor Frequency: AMD Phenom Processor Model X4 9850 / 2.5GHz
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 2.0GHz 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 4000MHz 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: 125 Watts
ACP: *to be announced after launch
Future Memory Controller Note: Future 45nm processors versions are planned to include support for DDR3 memory

AMD Phenom X4 9850

Save for its unique markings, the new AMD Phenom X4 9850 looks exactly like any other socket AM2+ processor outfitted with AMD's standard heat spreader.  The chip uses the same packaging and socket as current Phenom processors; it is only the silicon underneath that has changed.

The AMD Phenom X4 9850 is a 2.5GHz processor manufactured using AMD's 65nm Silicon on Insulator process technology.  The chip has a Max TDP of 125W and it is a "Black Edition" product, which means its multiplier is unlocked for more flexible overclocking.  New to the Phenom X4 9850 is full support for a 2.0GHz memory controller and HT 3.0 frequency with Dual Dynamic Power Management technology.  Although AMD had previously mentioned support for a 2GHz memory controller and HT3.0 link frequency, the memory controller in the initial batch of Phenoms clocked in at 1.8GHz.  Also note the "X" designation has returned to the product name.  With the new tri-core processors about to hit as well, AMD felt this additional designation would make it easier to discern the number of cores available in the CPU.  Another move designed to help differentiate their product offerings is the "50" in the model number.  To keep things simple, a "50" in the last two digits of the model number designates a processor based on the B3 revision core.

Tags:  AMD, Phenom, X4, VISION, AMD Phenom, B3, AM

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AjayD 6 years ago
I almost feel sorry for AMD. I was embarrassed for them after looking at how the 9850 stacks up against the QX9650. It's sad that this is the best that AMD has to offer. Don't get me wrong, its performance isn't bad in relation to the Q6600, it's just that Intel is leading in performance by more than a fair margin and is soon to be in another league altogether with Nehalem. The most interesting thing I noticed here was the high power draw of the 9850 compared to Intel's processors. I thought these were supposed to sport energy saving technologies.
Crisis Causer 6 years ago

It's a shame they need to pump 125W through it.  They didn't have to do that on the X2 line until the 6000 iirc, and that's clocked at 3.0Ghz.  It seems AMD has already reached the limits with Phenom technology.  If they come out with a 9950, it'll be 2.6ghz by their naming scheme and even that's not anything powerful.

Intel is indeed moving by leaps and bounds over AMD.  Let's just hope the prices are reasonable on the Intel front.

ice91785 6 years ago
It seems more than anything else AMD is trying to appeal to those mid-rangers.....We just got a tri-core in to BBY and honestly its not a bad bargain deal at all for the PC. If your ballin' on a budget these guys are a good 'bang for a buck' alternative
Joseph Linzner 6 years ago

After reading the author's article I am left with the question of why he elected to compare the AMD 9850 revision B3 with the Intel Q6600?

My puzzlement arises from testing a 9850 B3 which runs at 2.5 ghz and is a current techhnology  i.e. March 2008 revision against an Intel Q6600 which runs at 2.4ghz and has been shipping since January, 2007.  I would like to see the comparison be made with the Intel  Q9300 which is the current model and also runs at 2.5ghz.  This test would be a fairer assessment of the relative merits of the two processors. 



AjayD 6 years ago

I would assume the reason they chose to compare the performance of the 9850 against that of the Q6600 was because they probably didn't have a Q9300 on hand for comparison. The Q6600 would be the next closest chip in Intel's lineup to the 9850. Although the performance of the 9850 was comparable to that of the Q6600, taking into account the faster FSB speed of the Q9300, I presume it would have the upper hand. The Q6600 already had a substantial edge on power consumption, therefore the difference would only be that much more pronounced with the 45nm Q9300.

Crisis Causer 6 years ago

Plus, this AMD chip is ro retail around $230-$250, which is where the Q6600 is priced too.   The Q9300 is a little bit more, around $280-$300.

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