|AMD Phenom-II X6-1090T Black Edition Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 27 April 2010|
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Closer Look: AMD X6-1090T
The year was 1998, and I purchased my first personal computer. It was a Packard Bell Multimedia-820 desktop system that featured a 233MHz Cyrix MII-300 processor, 32MB of EDO RAM, and a 3.2GB hard drive. For under $1000 the package deal included the system, CRT monitor, bubble jet printer, attached stereo speakers, mouse pad, and even a floppy disk organizer. Powered by the now-legendary Windows 98 Operating System, I was surfing the web with my 56K modem at speeds that would make people cry real tears by today's broadband standard. What made this system so memorable? Besides being my first computer, it was also the first time I would ever overclock a computer... taking that Cyrix MII CPU from 233MHz up to 266MHz with the move of a single jumper shunt. It was madness, I tell you.
That's what overclocking used to be like, way back in the day. You would buy one processor, and after reading instruction on some poorly designed GeoCities/Angelfire website you could turn up the speed and laugh at the suckers paying full retail. Somehow the industry lost its way, and profits prevailed over processor flexibility. Intel was the first to lock-down its processors, and soon AMD followed their lead. This would eventually spawn Intel's Extreme Edition processor series, and AMD's Black Edition counterpart. Like past Black Edition processors, AMD aims to rekindle the lost love for overclocking by offering an 'unlocked' clock multiplier at no additional charge. What's different this time around is that the overclocker can tweak six CPU cores, and add Turbo CORE to the formula.
In present-day 2010, you can still build an entire computer system for less than $1000... and it can even include a six-core 3.2GHz AMD Phenom-II X6-1090T processor. Times have certainly changed, and the technology has changed with it, but still some things remain the same. Let's take a closer look at the AMD X6-1090T model HDT90ZFBK6DGR retail kit:
The new 45nm Thuban-generation Phenom-II processors arrive in two flavors: 2.8GHz X6-1055T, and 3.2GHz X6-1090T. The lower-speed X6-1055T offers more headroom for Turbo CORE, which raises half the processor cores an additional 500MHz to reach 3.3GHz. The flagship AMD Phenom-II X6-1090T Black Edition CPU adds 400MHz for a peak 3.6GHz Turbo CORE speed. Of course, me being me, I overclocked the X6-1090T until it tapped out at 4.0GHz with a 4.3GHz Turbo CORE.
The new hexa-core architecture essentially extends the AMD Phenom-II X6 processor die to accommodate two additional CPU cores. Unlike Intel's 980X, the AMD Phenom-II X6 series does not scale the L3 cache memory amounts with the number of cores. Thuban CPU cache sizes remain identical to those of the AMD Phenom-II X4-965 processor. L1 cache totals 128KB per core (64KB Instruction + 64KB Data), while L2 cache is 512KB per core and L3 receives a shared 6MB. The AMD Phenom-II X6-series 45nm die size measure 346 mm2, packaged in an AM3 938-pin organic micro Pin Grid Array (micro-PGA). Like their latest X4-965 processor, all AMD X6 CPU's maintain a 125W TDP.
AMD/Global Foundries' 45-nanometer SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology enables Thuban to benefit from a 4000MT/s full-duplex HyperTransport link, with one 16-bit/16-bit link at up to 6.0 GB/s I/O bandwidth. An integrated memory controller delivers up to 21 GB/sec dual-channel memory bandwidth, and accepts unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) or PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz). For each of the test systems used in this article, all memory modules were configured at 1333MHz CL7-7-7-20.
While the Thuban die size measure 346 mm2, the outer package is identical to other Phenom-II CPU profiles. This means that our heatsink guidance provided in the Best CPU Cooler Performance series still applies. Combine the AMD Phenom-II X6 CPU to any AMD-890 motherboard and add any ATI Radeon 5000-series video card, and voilà, you've just created what AMD describes as their 'Leo' platform.
Benchmark Reviews has already tested the ATI Radeon 5000-series ad nauseam, we'll offer several AMD-890FX motherboard reviews following this article. Some of the key features that make the AMD-890FX platform so valuable are the vast supply of PCI-Express 2.0 link lanes; which now total 44 (42 total lanes from 11-engines on the Northbridge for graphics, USB, SATA, etc, and two additional lanes supplied from one engine on SB850 Southbridge.