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AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Six-Core Processor Review

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MAC

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Following the hyped and immensely successful April launch of the Phenom II X6 1055T and X6 1090T, and late-September introduction of the X6 1075T, AMD are now unveiling their latest six-core Thuban-based processor, the Phenom II X6 1100T. This new model is an incremental update with a native frequency of 3.3Ghz, but which can also take advantage of a Turbo mode to ramp up to 3.7Ghz in workloads that utilize up to three cores. This new part is based on the now familiar 45nm SOI manufacturing process, it has 9MB (3MB L2/6MB L3) of total cache, a dual-channel DDR3-1333 memory interface, 125W TDP, and is compatible with all socket AM3 motherboards. The X6 1100T does not replace the 3.2Ghz X6 1090T, but it does take over its position as the flagship enthusiast processor in AMD's lineup. As such, the X6 1100T will launched at the $265 price point, while the X6 1090T has already been slashed down to $235.

Much like the aforementioned 1090T, this new chip is a Black Edition model with fully multiplier unlocked, which is a boon for all the enthusiasts out there who want to take full advantage of the Phenom II X6's well-documented overclocking headroom. The X6 1100T is still based on the original E0 stepping, but it is manufactured from the newest batches, which for AMD has historically meant improved overclocking capabilities. We spent quite a few days eeking every last megahertz out of our chip, so definitely check out the Overclocking Results section to see what you can potentially expect from one of these processors.

Now AMD are not foolish, so they aren't positioning the Phenom II X6 1100T as a competitor to the unholy priced six-core/twelve-thread Core i7-970 or Core i7-980X processors, but they are aiming squarely at the $284 Core i7-870 and its pricier unlocked variant, the $320 i7-875K. As we determined in our original Phenom II X6 launch article, the 1090T was effectively tied with these two Intel chips when it came to highly multi-threaded workloads, while consistently falling behind in single-threaded applications due to the inherent performance superiority of Intel's Nehalem-based microarchitecture.

Can a 100Mhz speed bump really make much difference? Logic dictactes 'no', but it should help further push things in AMD's favour. So without further ado, let's find out!


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_2.jpg
 

MAC

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Phenom II X6 1100T Specs

Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Specs



Phenom_II_X6_1100T_3th.jpg

Thuban Die - Click on image to enlarge

As many of you already know, Thuban is the codename for the Phenom II X6 family, and it follows AMD's tradition of bestowing their processors with designations based on celestial objects (Callisto, Deneb, Heka, etc). In the case of Thuban though, the codename is quite appropriate since six-core processor die is downright huge by modern standards. Coming in at 346mm2, the Thuban dies absolutely dwarfs the 248mm2 32nm six-core Intel 'Gulftown' and 263mm2 45nm quad-core Intel 'Bloomfield' dies. What this means is that AMD has to sell more silicon than Intel does, and usually at lower price points too, which obviously hurts their financial bottom line. None of this is particularly relevant to consumers though, since as you will see below Phenom II X6 processors are very attractively priced.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_4.jpg

As previously discussed, the Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition is the flagship of the X6 series, having displaced the hugely popular X6 1090T. Both chips are effectively identical, with the new 1100T merely featuring 100Mhz higher native and Turbo core clock frequencies. AMD were able to keep this processor within the 125W TDP limit, so it will be compatible with every AM3 motherboard out there once the manufacturers release bios updates. Consumers will be happy to see that there's no price premium for this new faster model, in is priced $30 less than 1090T's old price, which itself has received a healthy price cut.

Now it might surprise you to hear, but the 3.3Ghz X6 1100T is not actually the highest clocked Phenom II available. That honor arguably belongs to the recently released 3.5Ghz quad-core X4 970 Black Edition. Having said that, thanks to the Turbo CORE feature, the X6 1100T can ramp up to 3.7Ghz and will be faster than the X4 970 in 1-2-3 threaded workloads and also obviously in any application that can utilize more than 4 cores.


Although our media sample chip came packaged differently, you can expect the retail Phenom II X6 1100T to feature the same packaging and fairly capable CPU cooler as the X6 1090T. It might also be available in OEM form, but we no information to confirm that.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_13th.jpg
Phenom_II_X6_1100T_14th.jpg

There is nothing particularly distinctive about the physical appearance of the chip itself, but the more astute among you will undoubtedly have noticed that very new manufacturing week. Compared to our retail purchased X6 1090T, which was manufactured in the 13th week of 2010, this new X6 1100T was manufactured in the 35th week of 2010, over 5 months later. Based on our thorough scanning of various overclocking-oriented forums, no Phenom II X6 chips past week 25 seem to have made it in the retail channel yet. That's 10 weeks of potential manufacturing process improvements, which might equate to improved overclocking headroom and lower operating temperatures. If you are anxious to find out how this chip fared, check out our Overclocking Results section.


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_15th.jpg
Phenom_II_X6_1100T_16th.jpg

As most modern chips do, the Phenom II X6's have variable CPU core voltage depending on the workload. Our X6 1100T sample idled at 1.188V, it defaulted to 1.298V when running 4, 5, or 6 threaded workloads, and utilized a full 1.404V when a 1, 2, or 3 threaded workload would would engage the 3.7Ghz Turbo CORE feature. For comparison, our retail X6 1090T idled at 1.212V, needed 1.260V (ie: less) for 4-5-6 threaded workloads, but saw its vCore shoot up to 1.428V when Turbo CORE kicked in. Overall, there's not much we can derive from these figures, both in the sense of power consumption and how good the actual core yield is.

It is slightly disappointing that AMD didn't choose to give the northbridge frequency a slightly increase from the stock 2000MHz, since the enthusiast community has determined that increasing it has a tremendous impact on overall performance and also all Phenom II X6 chips have quite a bit of headroom in that area. Nevertheless, the northbridge multiplier is unlocked, so users can very easily tap that hidden performance reserve.

On the memory front, Phenom II X6's officially dual-channel DDR3-1333 support. However, thanks to improvements done to the memory controller in X6 chips, many overclockers have been able to achieve DDR3-1900 very easily, and some have been able to hit DDR3-2000 with select memory modules, G.Skill Flare for example. Once again, the memory multiplier is fully unlocked, so it is a very simple task to increase the memory frequency.
 

MAC

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Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition & Athlon II X3 455 Specs

Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition & Athlon II X3 455 Specs



Although not the focus of this article, AMD are also launching two budget-friendly sub-$120 mainstream processors today, the dual-core Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition and triple-core Athlon II X3 455. Once again, these are incremental updates that are one notch above the previously highest clocked models, so nothing too ground-breaking, but consumers will be getting a little more Bang for their Buck.

As you can see below, the new X2 565 Black Edition joins an extensive list of other multiplier-unlocked Black Edition Phenom II X2's.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_6.jpg

AMD is on a roll when it comes to Phenom II X2's. The X2 560 BE was just launched on September 20th, and today they are releasing the 100Mhz faster 3.4Ghz Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition. Aside from the slightly frequency increase, nothing else has changed, but you won't hear us complaining. As most of you know, Phenom II X2 processors are made from the exact same dies as the Phenom II X4's. What this means is that they not only have a full 6MB of L3 cache, which has significant impact on gaming performance, but many can also be unlocked and turned into fully-fledged quad-core chips. Unlocking is not guaranteed to work since some dies are actually rejects with one or two defective cores, but it is definitely worth a try. All major motherboard manufacturers have unveiled a 'Core Unlocker' feature for their recent AMD 800-series based motherboards, so it is literally a one-second process.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_7th.jpg

It has always been tempting to characterize the triple-core Athlon II X3 processors as the red-headed stepchildren of AMD's processor family, since they really aren't that much cheaper than the quad-core Athlon II X4 or the cache-rich dual-core Phenom II X2 models. Having said that, they offer great Bang for the Buck for those on the tightest of budgets, and they are actually deceptively fast, easily proving their performance dominance over any similarly-priced dual-core chips. The Athlon II X3 455 released today features a 3.3Ghz core clock, 100Mhz higher than the X3 450, and a wallet-friendly $87 price tag. It's a fantastic value, no doubt about it.
 

MAC

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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared four different test setups, representing all the popular platforms at the moment, as well as most of the best-selling processors. As much as possible, the four test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

AMD Phenom II AM3 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_17.jpg

Intel Core i3/i5/i7 LGA1156 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_18.jpg

Intel Core i7 LGA1366 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_19.jpg

Intel Core 2 LGA775 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_20.jpg


For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks were applied to Windows Vista and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • Sidebar – Disabled
  • UAC – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Windows Search – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan - High Performance
  • NVIDIA PhysX – Disabled
  • V-Sync – Off

D) Programs and games are then installed & updated followed by another defragment.

E) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged. If they were any clearly anomalous results, the 3-loop run was repeated. If they remained, we mentioned it in the individual benchmark write-up.

Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark06 Professional v1.2.0
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.0.2
  • Cinebench R10 64-bit
  • Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
  • Crysis v1.21
  • Far Cry 1.02
  • HyperPi 0.99b
  • wPRIME 2.03
  • Lame Front-End 1.0
  • Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.50.2109 Beta / V5.50.2253 Beta
  • Left 4 Dead
  • PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-Bit Edition v1.0.2
  • Photoshop CS4 Extended (64-bit)
  • ScienceMark 2.0 Build 21MAR05
  • Street Fighter 4 Demo
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
  • WinRAR 3.8.0
  • World in Conflict v1.010
  • x264 HD Benchmark v1.0

That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 

MAC

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Messages
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Location
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Feature Test: Turbo CORE Technology

Feature Test: Turbo CORE Technology



So you want to know how AMD's implementation of Turbo CORE works? Well let us direct you to the following chart:


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_21.jpg

Confused? Don't worry, we were too. Here is a very basic explanation.

Processor performance states (P-States) are effectively supported operating frequencies and voltages that the processor can switch between in order to manage power consumption and lower heat output. These states are controlled by the ACPI function in the operating system. Processors can move in and out of these P-states in a manner that is seamless to the user. The lower the P-state number the higher the processor speed. P1 in this chart is the 'stock' frequency.

With the Phenom II X6 processors AMD have implemented a Turbo/P0 p-state that is only enabled under single, dual, or triple-threaded workloads. In those cases, the idle cores go into a halt state, the data is flushed to the shared L3 cache, and the additional power and thermal headroom is used to increase the frequency of the 1-2-3 cores that currently loaded. If your workload is using four or more cores, the processor will simply run at default clock speeds.

Here is how the Turbo CORE implementation works in real-time:

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_22.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The 1100T will Turbo up to 3.7Ghz when up to 3 cores are loaded, but if the workload requires 4-5-6 threads the cores will run at their native 3.3Ghz frequency. It's that simple. The only notable aspect is that when Turbo is required, the X6 will put the unnneeded cores into idle mode and will increase vCore by a fair amount (1.2984V --> 1.404V) to the core or cores that under load. It can do this because it's making use of the additional TDP headroom created by the underclocked and undervolted idle cores.

Here's how the Turbo CORE functions affects real applications:


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_23.jpg

As you can see there are worthwhile gains in apps that use less than four-cores, which are still very common despite the increasing push towards increased multi-treaded applications. Thankfully, if you do encounter a highly threaded workload, you do have six highly clocked cores are your disposal.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Synthetic Benchmarks: Everest CPU & Memory

Synthetic Benchmarks: CPU & Memory



Lavalys Everest Ultimate

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. We selected two of Everest's seven CPU benchmarks: CPU Queen and FPU Mandel. According to Lavalys, CPU Queen simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. The FPU Mandel benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. Both tests consume less than 1 MB system memory, and are HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_24.jpg


Lavalys Everest Ultimate

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking utility provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_25.jpg



Phenom_II_X6_1100T_26.jpg


Will ScienceMark 2.0 paint a different picture? Let's find out.

ScienceMark v2.0

Although last updated almost 3 years ago, and despite its rudimentary interface, ScienceMark v2.0 remains a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_27.jpg



Phenom_II_X6_1100T_28.jpg

These are just synthetic numbers though, real-life applications and games are what count. Let's check those out next.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / wPRIME 1024M

System Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / wPRIME 1024M




SuperPi Mod v1.5

When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_29.jpg



wPRIME 2.03

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_30.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / Photoshop CS4

System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage / Photoshop CS4



PCMark Vantage x64


PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.0.0)
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score

The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding, Video transcoding, Text editing, Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_33.jpg



Photoshop CS4

For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 15 results to reach the final figure.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_34.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: Cinebench R10 / Cinebench R11.5

System Benchmarks: Cinebench R10 / Cinebench R11.5



Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_31.jpg



Cinebench R11.5


Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_32.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: Lame Front End / x264 HD / WinRAR

System Benchmarks: Lame Front End / x264 HD / WinRAR




Lame Front End

Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to gauge a processor's single-threaded performance as well as test any turbo feature that it might have. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

Phenom_II_X6_1100T_35.jpg




x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_36.jpg



WinRAR


WinRAR 3.8.0
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


Phenom_II_X6_1100T_37.jpg
 
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