AMD Phenom In-Depth Performance Scaling Analysis

Overclocking/ by massman @ 2008-12-30

With the upcoming release of the Phenom II we take a look at what we can expect by overclocking every aspect of our Phenom X4 9950 CPU. HT Link, Memory, Northbridge and RAW CPU speed scaling is compared in-depth to help you get the most out of your Phenom setup.

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Many people see the overclocking process as a method to get more out of your system in order to save money when buying a new system. And yes, that's why the ancestors of the modern overclocking scene initially started overclocking as many of the early overclockers were actually gamers. However, over the years, the overclocking scene has been split up in different segments, each of those having their own motivation and methods to overclock their system.

  • First you have the mainstream overclockers, often referred to as the 24/7 overclockers. Basically these people have the same motivation as our old-skool overclockers had: try to get more out of your system to save money. This kind of overclocker will spend money on CPU heatsinks, GPU heatsinks and case fans, but will also try to keep the setup as silent as possible as most of the systems are placed quite close to the desk where they are seated. Balancing between voltage and temperature, price and performance and overclock and noise, this is a time-consuming method of overclocking. Not only because of the many factors that play a role in this kind of overclocking, but also because the 24/7 overclockers want to make sure their system is stable, which requires extensive testing with programs such as OCCT, Prime95 or any other stability testing program. The quest for stability is a personal one; some people test for 24h stability on load, others (including myself) only check for stability for their own usage. In my opinion, you only need to make sure your system is stable for those applications you use and, naturally, you should only check stability with those programs you will eventually be using. For instance, if you want a stable gaming system which you will be using 4h a day, overclock and test your settings using an in-game benchmark and let it run for 4h.

  • Second, we have the performance overclockers, in which we find the well-known extreme overclockers and benchers. The only thing these people are interested in is to maximize performance and have a system that runs as fast as possible. Using extra-ordinary cooling solutions, such as phase-change and liquid nitrogen, and an excessive amount of voltage they try to achieve the best score in a certain benchmark application. In the contrary to the mainstream overclockers, the extreme overclockers are not interested in price, noise or even stability; all they care about is having the fastest system around the globe. For more information, you can visit HWBot's homepage, which features a worldwide competition for these extreme overclockers. Test your system with one of the benchmarks and be amazed by the difference in performance.

    Madshrimps (c)

  • The third group are the technology enthusiasts. Although many of the TE's are also active in the first and second category, there's a significant difference between the two other categories. Whereas the mainstream and extreme overclockers are interested in getting more performance, the technology enthusiasts are interested in the scalability of a certain technology, regardless of the performance or price. These are the people who spend hours and hours testing different configurations systematically trying to find in what way hardware responds to the increase of certain frequencies, voltages, OS tweaks and even hardware configurations. This group often influences the first and second group as with great scalability comes great performance increase and great price/performance increase: the more performance increase you get from a certain overclock, the more interesting it is to overclock that platform.

    This article is belongs to the third group as it will deal with the different aspects of AMD Phenom overclocking and how overclocking is translated in performance scaling using different applications. Note that this will also help you prepare for the launch of the Phenom II.
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    Comment from Kougar @ 2009/01/08
    Thought this was a great article...

    Just going to point out that while Phenom II increases performance, Phenom II decreased Uncore clocks from 2GHz to 1.8GHz. So AMD will be gaining that performance back with AM3 DDR3 processors launching soon, which will use a 2GHz Uncore.
    Comment from Massman @ 2009/01/08
    I'm looking quite forward to my PhII sample to compare the performance scaling.

    There's more to tell about the techy aspects of the P2 than one would think. Lostcircuits has some good insights: d=1