Thursday, November 29, 2007

AMD Readies “Black Edition” Phenom Processor, Phenom FX May Face Further Delay

Advanced Micro Devices said at a presentation of its new platform in Japan that although it will not be able to offer any high-end AMD Phenom FX processors for many months from now, it will unveil “Black Edition” of its AMD Phenom 9600 chip that will allow easy overclocking capabilities already in December.

AMD Phenom processor 9600 Black Edition will operate at 2.30GHz clock-speed, 2MB shared L3 cache and 512KB dedicated L2 cache per core and will have support for dual-channel PC2-8500 (DDR2 1066MHz), just like the typical AMD Phenom 9600 chip. However, the Black Edition processor has unlocked clock multiplier, which allows enthusiasts to clock the new chip higher than 2.30GHz without any issues. If the roadmap that AMD recently unveiled in Japan is correct, then AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition is due in December, 2007.

The customizable clock multiplier and auto-adjustable memory frequency of the new chip enables amateurs and value-conscious enthusiasts to maximize the performance of their desktop computers without substantial hassles. Typically enthusiasts have to increase base HyperTransport bus speed from default 200MHz, which eventually causes not only CPU clock-speed boost, but also alters HT bus and memory frequency, meaning that other components apart from the microprocessor also should be able to handle increased speeds. Previously customizable clock multiplier were only available on high-end AMD Athlon 64 FX processors that could retail for as much as $1000 per chip.

Earlier this month AMD said that it could not release any high-end AMD Phenom FX or even AMD Phenom processors clocked at 2.40GHz and above due to errata that causes system instability under high load. Even though the company said that the errata can be corrected by implementing a fix into BIOS of AMD Phenom-supporting mainboard, AMD itself has no plans to release current revision of Phenom at speeds beyond 2.30GHz. As a consequence, it is unclear whether AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition provides high overclocking potential without causing system instabilities or not.

AMD did not reveal pricing of the new central processing unit (CPU), but it will hardly be considerably more expensive than $283, the price of AMD Phenom 9600 chip in business quantities.

Separately, AMD reconsidered the release timeframe of its AMD Phenom FX processors as well as AMD Phenom 8000-series triple-core chips. If earlier it was claimed that the novelties will emerge in Q1 2008, then now AMD slides imply that the new CPUs will be available only in the first half of 2008, which typically would mean that the new chips are only projected to emerge sometime in Q2, a massive delay from initially announced Q4 2007 timeframe for the new high-end enthusiast platform called FASN8.

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