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Turn a 3-Core AMD Phenom 2 into a 4-Core

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February 23, 2009 5:37:12 PM

I first thought of gatting a budget core 2 quad but this really sounds like more bang for the buck. That is if it has minimal bugs.
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February 23, 2009 5:43:55 PM

hmm interesting. I wonder how that effects stability and overclocking?
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February 23, 2009 5:52:24 PM

It worked! Just loaded a 710, and just like the article says, switching ACC to "Auto" on a biostar board now has me reading 4 cores on the bios loading screen.

The thing is, in order to make the 3 core processor, AMD has to test a processor bad. With millions of the things running down the line, they are probably testing a few samples from a batch (this is industry practice right?). So if one is testing bad, they just take the whole batch down to three cores. That means others in a batch are still good. I wonder if the same isn't achievable with non-biostar boards?
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February 23, 2009 5:57:40 PM

Though, this has to happen to Intel as well. Why does AMD intentionally harm the bottom line by creating a product that fills no market, unless the product is priced way below the desired finish (that is, the only reason to buy a triple core is that it'd be cheaper than a four core, but AMD is making four cores into triple cores).
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February 23, 2009 5:59:08 PM

like with video cards, because a manufacturer sells it with 3 cores actives does not mean the 4th won't work, it may and it may not.

sometime they because of demand they are forced to ship what would have been 4 cores as 3 cores, but they don't want to lower their 4 core prices, but can't produce enough of them for the demand so they will quietly ship the good 4 core ones as 3 core ones. this happens.

so people should try and then run extensive testing of the core. maybe it had a small flaw the results in periodic errors or errors only with certain operations. one just has to test, test, test.
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February 23, 2009 6:04:07 PM

scryer_360Though, this has to happen to Intel as well. Why does AMD intentionally harm the bottom line by creating a product that fills no market, unless the product is priced way below the desired finish (that is, the only reason to buy a triple core is that it'd be cheaper than a four core, but AMD is making four cores into triple cores).


That would be true unless the 4th core is actually failing their tests. So instead of throwing the whole thing away, why not sell it as a 3-core for less? They end up making a lot more money that way because they're selling what they would otherwise call "garbage".
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February 23, 2009 6:24:01 PM

yeah, you take a $200 hunk of junk and salvage it for cheap, my bet is that they're taking a loss on the X3's
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February 23, 2009 6:38:07 PM

leo2kp is right though: if the 4 core doesn't work, what would otherwise be trash you can at least get some money out of as a 3 core. Still, in order to satisfy 3 core demand, AMD must be taking batches that had a small failure rate (and remember, if the few samples per batch have a fail, that doesn't mean all the processors in the batch do), they would have to canabalize good 4 cores to make some 3 core chips as nessecary. Unless sales of three core chips are low enough to just use "scraps."
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February 23, 2009 6:42:14 PM

How do you take a loss on something that you would otherwise throw away? At a minimum, selling X3's recoups some of that loss, assuming they don't actually make a profit off it, which I'm sure they do.

Its the same way the Radeon 4870 and 4850 are the same chip, but the 4870 is higher-clocked and uses much faster GDDR5 memory. Re-tooling the production line is where the cost in incurred. The more products you can make out of a single process, the better.

Chip makers have for ages been using a single chip and making minor mods to create different products. The old Intel Celeron was just a Pentium with some cache disabled. A Core i7 920 and 975 Extreme are essentially the same chip, the 920 just has a small, locked multiplier while the much more expensive extreme just has an unlocked multiplier.

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February 23, 2009 7:33:14 PM

This is an obvious hoax. Enabling a disabled core from a motherboard setting is silly. You at least need to draw a pencil line on the chip substrate.
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February 23, 2009 7:55:12 PM

If this new true aren't AMD gonna do something? or at least asking biostar to change the bios
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February 23, 2009 7:59:51 PM

Assuming this is true, it could be bad for AMD's quad core sales. ;)  Why pay more for a quad core, if you can buy a tri-core and potentially "unlock" the 4th hidden core?

LOL!

Sort of amusing. But I guess it does sort of make sense. But the fact that simply setting "Auto" on your motherboard causes the 4th core to activate would suggest AMD didn't do a very good job in disabling the potentially bad core.
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February 23, 2009 8:00:01 PM

That's neat! I'd so get a Phenom II right now..
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February 23, 2009 8:17:29 PM

If these processors turn out to be stable, you will see many budget machines built on this processor in the hope they get a quad core capable processor. Lets hope AMD doesn't disable this new "functionality".
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February 23, 2009 8:25:39 PM

It's interesting to see that AMD makes so many bad quads that they have a plan for selling them as triples. Kind of makes me wonder about their manufacturing quality. At least I won't have to worry about it, I don't fall for the AMD hype anymore.
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February 23, 2009 8:35:41 PM

I think AMD did this on porpose. Maybe this is AMD's ace? But you are taking a risk on enabling the 3rd CPU core. You may get one that would work fine but then again, you might get one that can't be stable at all even at 1GHz. But for $125.99 you are getting a bargan if you can get it to 4 cores but if not you still have a good CPU. I hope AMD keeps it this way and have a option in their AM3 boards to enable the 4th core. But as for me. I'm set with my Q9650. But I may try this out sence I have a 790GX motherboard (Foxconn). And see if it works.
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February 23, 2009 8:50:56 PM

68vistacruiserIt's interesting to see that AMD makes so many bad quads that they have a plan for selling them as triples. Kind of makes me wonder about their manufacturing quality. At least I won't have to worry about it, I don't fall for the AMD hype anymore.


Or, you could turn around and say, wonder how much cash Intel is throwing down the drain by junking all the chips that don't have 100% stability on all 4 cores. (though right now it seems that Intel just might have that kind of money to waste...)

I also agree w/ blackpanther that AMD probably don't care whether or not we try to enable the 4th core. At best this may actually help their sales from people willing to experiment with things. People who actually NEED a quad core will still buy quad cores, as an X3 has absolutely no gurantee the 4th core would work.
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February 23, 2009 8:52:15 PM

reminds me of the days of turning the radeon 9500 pro into a regular 9700.

AMD probably wouldn't have made the X3 line if none of the chips had an actual bad core. So be aware that this may be a great way to destroy an X3 if it really did have a bad core.

More than a few people turned a good, fast 9500 into a garbled, artifact spitting, unrecognizable 9700 by enabling 4 bad pixel pipelines with a softhack.
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February 23, 2009 9:17:12 PM

Kind of reminds me of the whole turning a thorton into a barton thing.
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Anonymous
February 23, 2009 9:20:01 PM

guys, AMD do a lot more in testing than just chuck Prime on each core for a few hours to see if its all good. Its very likely that a defective core could work fine in 99.99% of use, but AMD has disabled it because it failed in that one small special case that most people won't ever experience. Also reminds me of the Applebred Durons a few years ago that had 64kB of L2 cache. The cores themselves were simply Thortons with a large chunk of the L2 cache disabled. Pencil modding most of the time gave you a full Thorton processor, but sometimes it;d give you a brain dead CPU. Making money out of what would otherwise be garbage makes financial sense.
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Anonymous
February 23, 2009 9:21:16 PM

Alot of people assume that there's going to be tonnes of CPUs that work just fine except that one core is broken. Statistically, cache has the most transistors, and therefore potentially the most flaws, while some triple cores may have a bad core, AMD is probably getting a pretty decent yield, and is disabling plenty of healthy quads to sell as triple cores. Yield only improves throughout the lifetime of a stepping, do you think the triple-cores will go away when AMDs yield hits 99%? No, of course not, the X3 competes directly with Intels dualcores, they're just going to disable a healthy quad.
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February 23, 2009 10:11:55 PM

is this real? can someone confirm this? i find it hard to believe that AMD would let this happen. Also if you don't have a American Megatrends BIOS can you still do this? because i was planning to get a Gigabyte mobo (with my phenom II 720)and as far as i know they use Award.
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February 23, 2009 10:30:26 PM

We r not sure it's 100%. I'm from Korea..That happens begin from korea..
We gathering more info about it..
It depands on cpu&mobo.. lol
also lots of korean guys bought heca+mobo..
some people works well into quad core with stability..
some people can't use it into quad core..
Time after time..day by day..we could reconize
which one is needed..it's variable..
lol
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Anonymous
February 23, 2009 11:13:13 PM

AMD makes a profit selling it with 3 cores as well as 4. The reason they might have purposely disabled a good core could be as simple as marketing. Some people are willing to pay a hundred bucks for a processor but not 150. If AMD don't have anything to sell to that customer at that price/performance range, someone else will. A lower profit margin is from this market segment is better than none. Time will tell how many of these processors actually have a working fourth core though.
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Anonymous
February 23, 2009 11:43:29 PM

AMD saves money by not having to design separate chips, losing silicon real-estate to disabled cores is nothing compared to what it would cost to design and manufacture separate triple/dual core chips just to save a few mm squared of silicon. If anything, the unused silicon might help transfer heat to the heat spreader.
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February 24, 2009 1:45:53 AM

Is Phenom II the only triple-core CPU that can be altered this way? How about Phenom 8450?
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February 24, 2009 2:09:51 AM

one korean o.c do the test b4..with acc control with phenom-x3 8450

it was working to quadcore..

but,unfountenely he sold his cpu b4..

it has some possibility from triple to quad..

but don't forget it..it's not a 100%..

it depands on cpu,and mobo,also need ur luck

lol
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February 24, 2009 4:29:47 AM

omfg....
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February 24, 2009 8:21:40 AM

oicwOr, you could turn around and say, wonder how much cash Intel is throwing down the drain by junking all the chips that don't have 100% stability on all 4 cores. (though right now it seems that Intel just might have that kind of money to waste...)

They dont, they recycle the silicon instead.
Except that costs money and time and effort
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February 24, 2009 12:28:54 PM

Most 3X's have their 4th core disabled due to tdp. The 95W 3X's, with the 4th core, will require more than 95W. The question then becomes what voltage increase price do you get the 4th core. Killing an otherwise good 3X in under 2 years could turn the bargain into a nightmare for some. I strongly suggest anyone attempting this to first note your 3X's voltage. If the 4th core's voltage causes an increases by more than 10% without question set the CPU back to a 3X. On a stock heatsink and fan 6% isn't advised.
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Anonymous
February 24, 2009 12:58:20 PM

AMD is NOT selling processors with one core that is broken. They are selling a perfectly healthy quadcore with one core disabled. Do you guys really think that you can massproduce 3 core processor by pointing out 4 core processors with one bad core??? That is as stupid as it is expensive. All that the 3 core processor is, is a marketing bluff.

My sources are telling me that AMD will pullback the 3 core processor with in a week "due to technical problems and a weak demand..."
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February 24, 2009 1:03:05 PM

oicwI also agree w/ blackpanther that AMD probably don't care whether or not we try to enable the 4th core. At best this may actually help their sales from people willing to experiment with things. People who actually NEED a quad core will still buy quad cores, as an X3 has absolutely no gurantee the 4th core would work.

Exactly. The majority of people buying AMD chips are people that don't really want to waste/spend time toying around. So they'll just buy the chip that is rated at what they need. So if someone makes an x3 into an x4 just means they'll have sold one more cpu to someone who otherwise would've gone intel...


jerreeceAssuming this is true, it could be bad for AMD's quad core sales. Why pay more for a quad core, if you can buy a tri-core and potentially "unlock" the 4th hidden core?LOL!Sort of amusing.

For the reason stated above. Also, I may want to add that no big OEM (hp, dell etc.) I'm aware of supplies the user with enough bios options to actually accomplish this. So many people, and almost all companies of a decent size, will not even have the option to unlock their x3 processors.
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February 24, 2009 2:13:02 PM

Wonder if this works with the 720. I'd love to be able to turn that into a 940 at will, though honestly I'd be satisfied with the "stock" 3 cores and lower power usage.
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February 24, 2009 2:16:40 PM

uiuiuAMD is NOT selling processors with one core that is broken. They are selling a perfectly healthy quadcore with one core disabled. Do you guys really think that you can massproduce 3 core processor by pointing out 4 core processors with one bad core??? That is as stupid as it is expensive. All that the 3 core processor is, is a marketing bluff.My sources are telling me that AMD will pullback the 3 core processor with in a week "due to technical problems and a weak demand..."


Well, I don't imagine anyone thought a 9700 with half of the pixel pipelines defective could be a 9500 either. Or that an Athlon XP could be an MP with a little scotch tape and some conductive goop.

Same thing with RAM. A lot of the slow RAM you can buy is the same as the fast RAM. It just doesn't look as good under a microscope, and those imperfections dictate it's abilities at certain voltages.

This is not that far fetched. If AMD did find enough chips that only had 3 good cores, its cheaper to add artificially limited 3 core chips to them and sell an X3 line than it is to throw away the ones with a bad (or partially hindered) core. In fact I think the voltage explanation above your post is pretty plausible.
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February 24, 2009 4:34:40 PM

I have no trouble believing that triple-core processors are simply quads that didn't pass QA on all cores or cache for some reason. I also have no issue with the company selling them as triple cores instead of "Defective Quads." I don't think they'd deliberately disable x4 quality quads just to sell more x3's, though. That would be a waste money for them, right? It'd be cannibalizing the profit of their higher-margin items when it doesn't cost anything less to produce. And x3's haven't traditionally sold as well as x4's.
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Anonymous
February 24, 2009 6:25:01 PM

Some of the 7xx will have defective cores. Both intel and AMD have sold cpus with defective parts disabled as a different model number.

Even their high end parts will have bad parts disabled and still sold as high end because there is redundancy for some things like cache built into every cpu. If their cpu has 4 meg of cache, you can bet it probably really has 4.1 megs or so of cache so they can disable some bad blocks that are bound to happen. The same is true of most complex icus.

Both companies have also disabled good cpus to make those cheaper part numbers when demand outstripped their supply of the bad ones. They have done it and they will do it if they don't have enough bad ones to fill the demand. Its a balancing act when using higher end parts to fill lower end part numbers by disabling parts of the chip. You dont want to undercut your higher markup part, but you also want to move product, they will balance the prices and supply to maximize profit.

Neither company says what their yield ratios are. So its a complete guess at how many of the cheaper parts will be bad parts with the bad parts disabled, and how many will be good parts with good parts disabled to fill demand.

If AMDs yield is really high you'll have a good shot at a 4th working core....if its not so good you'll have a bad shot at a working core. At a guess id say their yield on the phenom 2 is good.....for the older phenom id say their yield was not good.
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February 25, 2009 2:29:56 PM

Hah, I still have a ATI 9700 Pro in my main computer for daily usage at home! That card rocks, love seeing it mentioned still. I remember the 9500 to 9700 fiasco.

I do want to add a bit of my thoughts here though. I highly doubt AMD sacrifices an entire batch of quad cores by turning them into tripple cores simply by testing a small number of samples in the batch. They have to be runnning some sort of burn-in benchmark and noting errors in cores and disabling them on individual basis for good reasons. I'd never risk binning my CPU in this way unless I knew I could go back somehow.
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February 26, 2009 5:23:42 AM

Well if it's just a matter of bios I don't see the real risk. I suppose one could just reset the bios and it'll be x3 again - unless enabling a core that is broken enough to break something else - but if that's the case I'd assume their own testing would've broken the rest.
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April 21, 2009 8:14:42 AM

So finally full story about 2 months later on Tom's. Interesting stuff. What I can't believe is people so out of touch with reality commenting about Intel and why they haven't released a triple core. Amazing. People don't realize that Core 2 Quad's are not quads but two dual core's mated up. AMD quad-cores are true, native, quad cores so any one of the core's can be bad and still have 3 good one's working fine. With Intel they would have to do a Kuma-style job and disable one the two defective dual cores and have a chip running only 50% enabled. Perhaps if Intel was smart they could do this too, but you don't get the benefit of the larger shared cache like you do on the AMD chips that are partially disabled..
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April 21, 2009 8:32:10 AM

danbfreeSo finally full story about 2 months later on Tom's. Interesting stuff. What I can't believe is people so out of touch with reality commenting about Intel and why they haven't released a triple core. Amazing. People don't realize that Core 2 Quad's are not quads but two dual core's mated up. AMD quad-cores are true, native, quad cores so any one of the core's can be bad and still have 3 good one's working fine. With Intel they would have to do a Kuma-style job and disable one the two defective dual cores and have a chip running only 50% enabled. Perhaps if Intel was smart they could do this too, but you don't get the benefit of the larger shared cache like you do on the AMD chips that are partially disabled..

Ehh ? what are you replying to ? who said anything about intel tricore, or an intel quad with two disabled cores? Do you read the comments you're replying to? I assume you do reply to comments, as the story certainly doesn't mention either of these two... although the thread is so old I possibly could have forgotten about it...
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June 19, 2009 12:51:47 AM

just a question, turning the fourth core Phenom X3 710, and forming an overclock I have a performance similar to a Q9550?
Q9550 is the win is much difference?
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Anonymous
July 4, 2009 8:25:57 PM

doesnt work for me... why?? my motherboard is magic pro..
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July 4, 2009 9:51:29 PM

jesuscheungdoesnt work for me... why?? my motherboard is magic pro..

it isn't guaranteed to work. in fact there are more boards known not to work than there are that do.
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