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AMD Phenom 9600 Hardware Review - -

Applications 8.8
Gaming 8.8
Multimedia 8.8
Value 9.0
Distributor: AMD
Joel Williams


AMD Phenom 9600

The battle between AMD and Intel have once again come head to head with both companies launching a plethora of different CPU's in order to dominate the market. A few years ago, the Dual Core CPU was the preferred CPU, however now both companies have upped the ante with their Quad Core CPU's and AMD have released the Phenom 9600 2.3Ghz Quad Core processor that may revolutionize the future of PCs and how software is designed. Or will it?

AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series Quad-Core Processor Product Brief

The ultimate megatasking experience. Featuring true multi-core design and award-winning AMD64 technology with Direct Connect Architecture, AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series processors deliver the ultimate megatasking experience by providing direct and rapid information flow between processor cores, main memory, and graphics and video accelerators. AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series processors have the technology to break through the most challenging processing loads. AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series processors feature low latency access to main memory for amazingly rapid response and phenomenal system performance. AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series processors were designed for megatasking—running multiple, multi-threaded applications. Surge through the most demanding processing loads, including advanced multitasking, critical business productivity, advanced visual design and modeling, serious gaming, and visually stunning digital media and entertainment.

Phenomenal performance with advanced processor design. The AMD Phenom™ 9000 series processors are the most advanced processors for true multitasking with true quad-core design. Don’t get bogged down by non-native quad-core processors and obsolete front side bus architectures. With an integrated memory controller and shared L3 cache, AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series processors have low-latency access to main memory for amazingly rapid system response and phenomenal system performance.

Blast through performance bottlenecks. All AMD Phenom™ 9000 series processors feature AMD64 with Direct Connect Architecture to blast through performance bottlenecks. Award winning HyperTransport™ 3.0 technology just got faster, providing support for full 1080p high-definition video and extreme total system bandwidth.

Shatter the memory barrier. Superior AMD64 architecture offers direct access to DDR2 memory. Enjoy virtually unlimited memory options with AMD64 technology and 64-bit Windows Vista.® Shatter the memory barrier with AMD Phenom™ 9000 series processors and 64-bit Windows Vista.®


Experience Windows Vista.® Harness the power of Windows Vista® with the AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series quad-core processor. The AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series quad-core processor divides and conquers the most complex tasks with true multi-core design. Enjoy the ultimate megatasking experience on Windows Vista.® Enjoy virtually unlimited memory options with AMD64 technology and 64-bit Windows Vista.® Shatter the memory barrier with AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series quad-core processors and Windows Vista.®


Strikingly efficient Cool‘n’Quiet™ 2.0 technology.With the next generation of award-winning Cool‘n’Quiet™ technology, Cool‘n’Quiet™ 2.0 technology reduces heat and noise so you can experience amazing performance without distraction. Combined with core enhancements that can improve overall power savings, the AMD Phenom™ 9000 Series quad-core processor delivers seamless multitasking and optimum energy efficiency. Work, play, talk, and share a PC that’s seen, not heard.

The "Phenom" name is the catchy new word for AMD's latest processor that sounds like venom or may come from the world phenomenal which offers amazing performance in both application, design and gaming. The Phenom processor is also based on the 65nm process technology as shown below and features just about 450 million transistors and a die size of about 288 mm^2.

Unlike Intel Quad Core processors, the Phenom 9600 is the first CPU to have all 4 cores are on the same physical die which is a world first for this type of CPU. Whereas with previous AMD CPU's, the Phenom has increased bandwidth between the L1 and L2 caches which allows for increased performance and speed.

AMD go one step further by adding in a third cache which is the key to its architectural improved performance. Interestingly enough, each of the cores of the CPU has 64K of L1 data cache, 512K of dedicated L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache that is shared between all caches. Even though the CPU core speeds may not be pushing the 3.0Ghz marks, this new design "in theory" allows for far superior PC performance.

For the Uber-geek, the Phenom memory controller can transfer data to dual channels of DDR2 memory to speeds up to 1066Mhz and can also access its two 64-bit channels independently. Add in the new AMD technology called HyperTransport 3.0" which basically doubles the effective clock speed and data rate and this is a huge improvement over past AMD CPUs.  HyperTransport 3.0 also boasts up to 20.8GB/s of bandwidth transfer.

Key Architectural Features

The industry's first true Quad core x86 processor
  • True quad-core designed from the ground up for better communication between cores.
    • BENEFIT : Cores can communicate on die rather than on package for better performance

AMD64 with Direct Connect Architecture

  • Helps improve system performance and efficiency by directly connecting the memory controller and I/O to the CPU.
  • Designed to enable simultaneous 32- and 64-bit computing
  • Integrated DDR2 Memory Controller
    • Increases application performance by reducing memory latency
    • Scales memory bandwidth and performance to match compute needs
    • HyperTransport™ Technology provides up to 14.4GB/s peak bandwidth per processor—reducing I/O bottlenecks
    • Up to 27.2GB/s total delivered processor-to-system bandwidth (HyperTransport bus + memory bus)

AMD Balanced Smart Cache

  • Shared L3 cache
  • In addition to the 512K L2 cache per core, up to 2MB of L3 cache shared by up to 4 cores.
    • BENEFIT : Shortened access times to highly accessed data for better performance.

AMD Wide Floating Point Accelerator

  • 128-bit floating point unit (FPU)
  • High performance (128bit internal data path) floating point unit per core.
    • BENEFIT : Larger data paths for quicker floating point calculations and better performance.

HyperTransport™ technology

  • One 16-bit link up to 3600MT/s
  • Up to 8 .0 GB/s HyperTransport™ I/O bandwidth; Up to 14.4GB/s in HyperTransport Generation 3.0 mode
  • Up to 27.2GB/s total delivered processor-to-system bandwidth (HyperTransport bus + memory bus)
    • BENEFIT : Quick access times to system resources for better performance.

Integrated DDR2 DRAM Controller with AMD Memory Optimizer Technology

  • A high-bandwidth, low-latency integrated DDR2 memory controller
  • Supports PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066*); PC2-6400 (DDR2-800), PC2-5300 (DDR2-667), PC2-4200 (DDR2-533) or PC2-3200 (DDR2-400) SDRAM unbuffered DIMMs
  • Support for 64-bit DDR2 SDRAM memory
  • Up to 12.8GB/s memory bandwidth
    • BENEFIT : Quick access to system memory for better performance.

AMD Virtualization™ (AMD-V™) With Rapid Virtualization Indexing

  • Silicon feature-set enhancements designed to improve the performance, reliability, and security of existing and future virtualization environments by allowing virtualized applications with direct and rapid access to their allocated memory.
    • BENEFIT : Helps virtualization software to run more securely and efficiently enabling a better experience when dealing with virtual systems

AMD Cool'n'Quiet™ 2.0 technology

  • Enhanced power management features which automatically and instantaneously adjusts performance states and features based on processor performance requirements
  • For quieter operation and reduced power requirements
    • BENEFIT : Enables platform designs providing less heat and noise efficient performance and energy usage.

AMD CoolCore™ Technology

  • Reduces processor energy consumption by turning off unused parts of the processor. For example, the memory controller can turn off the write logic when reading from memory, helping reduce system power.
  • Works automatically without the need for drivers or BIOS enablement.
  • Power can be switched on or off within a single clock cycle, saving energy without comprimised performance.
    • BENEFIT: Helps users get more efficient performance by dynamically activating or turning off parts of the processor.

Dual Dynamic Power Management™

  • Enables more granular power management capabilities to reduce processor energy consumption.
  • Separate power planes for cores and memory controller, for optimum power consumption and performance, creating more opportunities for power savings within the cores and memory controller.
    • BENEFIT Helps improve platform efficiency by providing on demand memory performance while still allowing for decreased system power consumption

AMD have added the Cool n' Quiet 2.0 technology to the CPU which allows each core to run at different frequencies and voltages, allowing the CPU to determine how much performance is needed to the end-user and how much power is consumed. This allows for a more stable system, less power and of course a much quieter CPU which is fine in anyone's books.


Benchmarks can be a tricky beast and although mimic real-world applications, they can be tweaked which makes it very difficult. However we at impulsegamer have ensured to keep the benchmarking fair without tweaking one CPU over the over. Our first benchmark was with SYSmark 2004 which is a great program to test CPU's as it simulates real-world applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer to name a few of the programs.

As you can see from the results, the AMD Phenom 9600 although behind the Intel "big boys", still gave them a true fight in this category and baring in mind that this CPU is cheaper and is more accessible to those upgrading, it should definitely be choice to existing users.

SYSMark 2004
Overall results

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (392)
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (365)
AMD Phenom 9600 (325)

Business Winstone 2004 is another program that gives similar results to real-world tests and the Phemon performed quite well when compared against the Intel QX6700. It should also be noted that not all programs support Quad Core CPU's and until this is a standard, this makes benchmarking and testing sometimes difficult. 

Business Winstone 2004

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (33.9)
AMD Phenom 9600 (30.9)
Intel QX6700 (28.3)

Gaming is a real test for a CPU, considering the power that it uses to create vast gaming worlds as its renders graphics, calculates artificial intelligence and a wide gamut of other options, it can sometimes be considered the true test for a CPU. Doom is the grand daddy of first person shooters and the AMD Phenom 9600 performed considerably well when compares against other high-end Intel CPU's and with results like this, there is little to complain about.

Doom 3
Low Quality

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (241.2)
Intel QX6700 (235.2)
AMD Phenom 9600 (192.2)

Time Demo

Intel QX6700 (258.2)
AMD Phenom 9600 (210.2)

Team Fortress 2

Intel QX6700 (91.2)
AMD Phenom 9600 (80.1)


AMD Phenom 9600 (71.2)
Intel QX6700 (64.3)

Interestingly enough, the Phenom 9600 was the clear winner with BioShock which was one of the top games of 2007. Unfortunately when compared to the Intel QX6700 CPU, the Phenom 9600 still does perform as well in the gaming field as Intel CPU's. This also brings forth a variety of development issues with Intel, AMD and Microsoft and how well the later supports new technologies.

Intel have always had a lead on the CPU market, however AMD are definitely trying to give the consumer a second choice and with new technologies like the Phenom 9600 with its potential to truly give Intel a run for the money, especially at the price, this CPU could still a definite viable choice to the consumer.

This is where the Phenom series of CPU's will shine with its aggressive price points because even though the the processor was just behind the Intel in performance, when new patches are released, bios upgrades and more software supports Quad Core CPU's, the Phenom should definitely be considered. Last but not least, depending on your motherboard, some users may not need to upgrade their boards in order to install this CPU which is definitely a bonus over Intel CPU's.


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