It was literally a week before we received our Phenom samples that many within AMD learned of a serious erratum in the processor that could potentially have a significant impact on system stability or performance, depending on how it was handled. Microprocessor erratum are quite common - no CPU is perfect and many are patched with fixes for these erratum through BIOS updates throughout the life of the CPU.

However, every now and then an erratum comes along that is a little more dangerous, its impact a little more serious, and that's when microprocessors either get recalled or tackled by a software workaround immediately. Phenom hardly had a smooth launch and its traction in the marketplace has been nearly nonexistant, partially because of the TLB issue but also because of a relative inability to compete, even with AMD's own dual-core products in many cases.

AMD is looking to relaunch Phenom this year with a new revision of the core and higher clock speeds. This new core was designed specifically to address the TLB erratum that crept up late last year and we managed to get our hands on a pre-release sample from one of AMD's partners before final production samples shipped. What follows is a quick explanation of the erratum and a look at how, and if, the B3 stepping core does indeed fix things.

Phenom needs help and B3 would at least be the first step towards giving it some much needed aid.

The "TLB Bug" Explained
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  • Griswold - Thursday, March 13, 2008 - link

    You're a tech? Is that what they call callcenter jobs at Dell nowadays?

    Take your uneducated opionion and stick it where the sun doesnt shine, please.
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    I believe the above "you stole this" comment is just spam. So just ignore it.

    As for the x64 and SPEC CPU stuff... x64 is becoming relevant, as 2GB PCs are common and 4GB setups are increasingly popular. The problem is, you can only fully realize the use of 4GB (or more) RAM if you run a 64-bit OS. Now we just need more 64-bit apps (Photoshop, I'm looking at you!) I'm personally running a Q6600 with 2x2GB and Vista 64-bit, and have no complaints other than the lack of 64-bit applications (not games - applications). And don't even think about bringing Xbox 360 into the picture... last I checked, you couldn't run Photoshop, Office, or any other real business application on an Xbox 360.

    Regarding the TLB errata, we have at least two confirmed ways of causing this errata to rear its ugly head. Having done plenty of system testing, I can state that there are infinitely potential operations a CPU might be asked to perform. Multitasking in particular throws a wrench into the gears, because you can never test all the potential multitasking scenarios.

    With two cases where the TLB bug comes up, you can be sure there are more. They may be rare -now- but we don't know what will happen going forward. Personally, I don't want a system where any time I experience a crash, I'm left to wonder, "Was that something wrong with the OS or application, or was that just the TLB error popping up in some new way?"

    This is the AMD equivalent of the FDIV error Intel had back in the early Pentium days; unfortunately, the workaround has a far greater impact on performance. If you want to take a chance on the TLB error never affecting your system, you're welcome to do so. If that's the case, however, I'm wondering what you use your system for that makes quad-core even necessary.
    Reply
  • Darkness - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    AMDPhenom if you are going to write a review please do not cheat.

    This review was just copied and pasted from WWW.IMB.COM/UK.

    We would like GENUINE reviews written by some one who has actualy tested this range.

    You have not tested this personaly.

    Please do not say you have as well all know you have not.

    Please people the Phenom range is buggy I would not buy it untill AMD has sorted out these bugs.

    I have read up on this range on many sites and all reviews say it is buggy and no anount of patches and updates are going to solve the problems for you.
    Please wait before you decide to buy?
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Darkness if you're going to write feedback, please do not conduct fraud related activities.

    www.imb.com is a bank located in California.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    LOL. Not even a valid site. What a dipsh!t. Reply
  • nomagic - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Is this supposed to be some kind of joke? Reply
  • vijay333 - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    dammit, who disabled the moron filter to the internet again?

    Reply
  • murphyslabrat - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    If this was Dailytech, I would soooooo rate you up! Reply
  • fitten - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Any news on if they fixed the "Core2" problem? Reply
  • Brian23 - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    I really wish you would do a clock for clock comparison of the Phenom to a Core 2 chip. That way we could see how the TLB fix affects which CPU is the prefered one in the lower cost segment of the CPU market. Reply

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