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AMD Phenom II X4 940 & 920 Processors

Date: January 8, 2009
Product: Phenom II X4 940 BE (3.0 GHz) & 920 (2.8 GHz) AM2+ CPUs
Company: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Author: Jason Rabel

AMD Phenom II

What's New With The Phenom II:

It has been a little over a year since AMD released the original Phenom processor, publicized as the world's first "native" quad-core desktop processor. I won't lie to you (and you probably already know all this), the original Phenom had a rough start with the TLB bug, and performance just wasn't what everyone was hoping for. Intel was dominating the market with their shiny new 45nm chips, and AMD fans kind of felt let down. With the new Phenom II however, the performance we have come to expect from AMD is definitely back in a solid product. The biggest feature most people have been reading about has been the transition to 45nm manufacturing, but there are a lot more enhancements to the processor than just a die shrink. While the Phenom II is still technically a K10 chip, the performance is like night and day compared to the older 65nm Phenom.

To start things off with the Phenom II line, AMD has launched the Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition, running at a whopping 3.0 GHz. Being a Black Edition processor means that the CPU multiplier is unlocked, making it much easier to overclock. Also being released is the Phenom II X4 920, which runs as 2.8 GHz. To put that in some perspective, the fastest 65nm Phenom currently available is the 9950 BE which runs at only 2.6 GHz. These Phenom II processors are compatible with existing socket AM2+ motherboards, the only requirement for proper operation is a BIOS update which motherboard manufactures should have out by now, or will in the near future. Future AM3 Phenom II processors will also be backwards compatible with AM2+ motherboards, but that will be covered later on in more detail.

The die size has shrunk a little, from 285mm˛ (65nm) to 258mm˛ (45nm), also the transistor count has gone up from ~450 million to ~758 million! The main reason for the transistor jump is the 4MB of additional L3 cache in the new design, which also takes up a considerable amount of die space.

On the outside, the chip itself looks like any other socket AM2/AM2+ processor.


I know the name Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition seems a little long, and numbers can really get jumbled when you start talking about the older Phenom processors and Intel models too. But the numbering really fits how AMD is trying to label their products... The II represents the new 45nm models, while the X4 represents the cores (future X3 & X2 are sure to follow), and finally the model 940 represents the relative performance in the lineup. We could call it The Final Endgame Alpha Action Go Time Lift-Off Decide-icidal.... err...let's not go there... Just keep in mind when reading this review, when you see "Phenom", that is referring to the original Agena 65nm models, when you see "Phenom II" that is the new Deneb 45nm models.


Pricing and Availability:

Prices are expected to be $275 for the X4 940 and $235 for the X4 920, AMD's Processor Pricing List should be updated at the time of launch or shortly thereafter. Because of the price gap between these new Phenom II processors and existing Phenom processors, prices are not expected to drop for existing models. That probably won't happen until the availability of the AM3 chips.

Model Frequency Process HT L2-Cache L3-Cache Price
Phenom II X4 940 3.0 GHz 45nm 1.8 GHz 4 x 512 KB 6 MB $275
Phenom II X4 920 2.8 GHz 45nm 1.8 GHz 4 x 512 KB 6 MB $235
Phenom X4 9950 2.6 GHz 65nm 2 GHz 4 x 512 KB 2 MB $170
Phenom X4 9850 2.5 GHz 65nm 2 GHz 4 x 512 KB 2 MB $150
Phenom X4 9750 2.4 GHz 65nm 1.8 GHz 4 x 512 KB 2 MB $150
Phenom X4 9650 2.3 GHz 65nm 1.8 GHz 4 x 512 KB 2 MB $145


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