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AMD’s 890FX Chipset

The Phenom II X6 will work in all existing Socket-AM2+ and AM3 motherboards that can 1) support the 125W TDP of the processors, and 2) have BIOS support (apparently over 160 boards at launch). Despite this impressive showing of backwards compatibility, we also get a new chipset today for those of you looking to build a new system instead of upgrade.

The 890FX is a mildly updated version of AMD’s 790FX chipset, mostly adding AMD’s SB850 South Bridge with 6Gbps SATA support. The number of PCIe 2.0 lanes and other major features remains unchanged.

  AMD 890FX AMD 890GX AMD 790FX
CPU AMD Socket-AM3 AMD Socket-AM3 AMD Socket-AM3/AM2+
Manufacturing Process 65nm 55nm 65nm
PCI Express 44 PCIe 2.0 lanes 24 PCIe 2.0 lanes 44 PCIe 2.0 lanes
Graphics N/A Radeon HD 4290 (DirectX 10.1) N/A
South Bridge SB850 SB850 SB750
USB 14 USB 2.0 ports 14 USB 2.0 ports 12 USB 2.0 ports
SATA 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 3Gbps ports
IOMMU 1.2 N/A N/A
Max TDP 19.6W 25W 19.6W

You get IOMMU support (an advantage over 790FX) and despite the chipset being built on TSMC's 65nm process, it pulls less power than the 890GX as it lacks any integrated graphics.

The Test

To keep the review length manageable we're presenting a subset of our results here. For all benchmark results and even more comparisons be sure to use our performance comparison tool: Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS P7H57DV- EVO (Intel H57)
Intel DP55KG (Intel P55)
Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
MSI 890FXA-GD70 (AMD 890FX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280 (Vista 64)
ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 9.12 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Windows 7 x64
The Performance Summary SYSMark & Photoshop Performance
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  • Boogaloo - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    That's pretty disappointing scaling from the 965 to the 1055T.. I'd be willing to bet the lack of added cache (not to mention the memory controller issues the article raises) are really holding back the performance. Unfortunately, 6 cores at 45nm hasn't left them with much of a choice as far as that goes. Reply
  • SonicIce - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    looks like the 7z compression rate went down with turbo core enabled? an error? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Yeah, we accidentally flipped the chart. It has been fixed. Reply
  • FragKrag - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    A bit underwhelming since before I read this bench, I saw overclock3d benches (they had 1090T at stock absolutely thrashing an i7 at 4GHz). Seems like the ideas that most of the people had with threading were true though. Overall I think they should be decently competitive because they do hold the advantage in cores.

    It's nice to see AMD pushing Intel a bit, though this does not make me regret my earlier purchase of the i7 860 as much as I would have liked it to.

    Is there some kind of error with TurboCore? It doesn't look like it's working because those Dragon Age (optimized for quads?) and Dawn of War FPSs were a bit disappointing! :(
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Well as always for the last couple of years. This can't go on forever. Just if you think about the margins that intel has and the one that AMD has (if any...).
    The Problem I see is that in the cheaper price regions (=mainstream) users do not need a ton of cores. In the end most could easly live with 1 core even though 2 would probably lead to a "feelable" difference.

    So I'm not sure if it's very intelligent to invest money in these designs. Just look at the die shot. I'm not an expert but you don't need to be to see that the just attached 2 more cores to an existing design probably having to make a ton of trade-off's (like the l3 cache).

    I mean it is theoretically great. The easy upgrade path but again, how many users actually ever upgrade? IMHO a tiny fraction.
    Of course thise i3/i5 dual cores from intel are overpriced. But that's what most company PC's will use. Huge profits for intel.
    I hope at least AMD's answer to atom will be very good (=alot faster, same power consumption). But I doubt it...
    Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    The entry level crowd isn't the problem. Someone who only requires basic performance should buy the cheapest CPU, and AMD has that slot. For the performance crowd, Intel is the clear winner, but it's not the majority of the market. The real issue here is the price performance crowd, the people who want good performance for a good price. This is a pretty large market and AMD is trying to win here by reducing the price, but it's not doing great by this review.

    I think AMD still makes money on all CPU's, just not nearly as much as Intel.
    Reply
  • Scali - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    "Someone who only requires basic performance should buy the cheapest CPU, and AMD has that slot."

    I think that's his point though?
    This CPU is not the 'cheapest'. Why invest in a design like this?
    As Anand says in the conclusion, for 'mixed' usage, the i860 is a better choice. Only people who need heavily threaded performance may want this CPU. Especially at the pice at which AMD is selling these six-cores, can they really get a good return-on-investment on the development of this CPU?
    Seems like dualcores and quadcores is where the bulk of the sales will be.
    Reply
  • jamyryals - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Your argument is short-sighted. You can't stay with 4 core models indefinitely and expect to remain competitive in the future. R&D money has to be spent on the new technology even if your niche is the Price/performance budget sector. Reply
  • Scali - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    I think it's short-sighted to just look at the number of cores.
    What AMD REALLY needs is a core architecture with a good IPC and relatively cheap to produce. That is what made the K7 and K8 so successful.
    Currently AMD is just throwing more transistors at the problem, which is not a good thing, given their position (45 nm process vs Intel's 32 nm).

    If anything Intel proves that it's not the number of cores, since Intel's quadcores generally outperform AMD's six-core. So as it stands today, Intel can stay with quadcores just fine.
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    exactly my thought.
    But I must admit I did not think about servers at all. If it was easy to adopt a server cpu which had to be made anyway then it's a different story. (is it a half-magny-cours?)
    But generally i would say a complete new architecture is needed soon to stay competitive.
    Phenom architecture is quite old now and never was that good anyway especially compared to core architecture...
    Reply

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