Phenom vs. Phenom II - Clock for Clock

Before we get to how fast this thing is, it's important to look at how much faster we are compared to the original Phenom. Clock speed alone should be able to deliver a good 5 - 15% performance improvement, but the larger L3 cache and other fixes included in the chip should account for more.

In order to find out how much more performance the L3 changes bring, I performed a very simple experiment: I took a Phenom 9950BE and overclocked it to 2.8GHz. I then compared it to a Phenom II X4 920, also running at 2.8GHz. I chose a subset of the test suite I ran for today's review, but it should be enough to give you an indication of what the more balanced cache hierarchy does for performance:

Processor Excel Monte Carlo (lower is better) Adobe Photoshop CS4 (lower is better) x264 Pass 2 3dsmax 9 Cinebench WinRAR (lower is better) Left 4 Dead FarCry 2
AMD Phenom II X4 920 (2.8GHz) 31.3s 25.8s 16.6 fps 10.2 11440 123s 110.2 fps 43.3 fps
AMD Phenom @ 2.8GHz 43.4s 27.9s 15.9 fps 9.6 10948 144s 99.8 fps 42.1 fps
% Improvement 27.9% 7.5% 4.4% 6.3% 4.5% 14.6% 10.2% 2.9%

The performance improvements here are good - very good. At the high-end we see a nearly 30% gain at the same clock speed and at the low end a 2.9% increase at 2.8GHz.

These applications span the gamut, including everything from a high-end financial model simulation with the Excel test, to basic file compression with WinRAR. Phenom II offers real world benefits over the original, largely due to its more balanced cache structure. With enough L3 cache for all cores to be fed, no one is left hungry.

We see the potential for real performance improvements in gaming as compared to the original Phenom, which could restore AMD's competitiveness in an area where it has been forced to rely on also having a strong GPU for quite some time now. All in all, the performance improvements and changes to cache structure we've been talking about over the past few pages are real - Phenom II is better than the original. But is it good enough?

Socket-AM2, AM2+ and AM3: Backwards Compatibility Hooray, AMD is Overclockable Again
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  • Kromis - Thursday, January 8, 2009 - link

    *Stands up and applause* Reply
  • wowo - Thursday, April 23, 2009 - link

    how x264?

    x264 benchmark is 819,very old.

    now is 1139.Improved a lot

    please ues new x264,more scores will be Changed.

    Reply
  • cioangel - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    I have been looking through forum sites for hours. This is the most complete answer I have managed to get so far. Just to make things clear: I am using an AM2+ motherboard and it supports some AM3 processors and says so in the manual. What I am confused on is the memory I will have to use with it. If I use my old AM2+ mb and put a AM3 cpu in there, do I need to run DDR2 or DDR3? I would like to use my old memory for a while to defer the cost of the processor upgrade. Reply

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