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Conclusion

Meet Zosma: AMD's Quad-Core Phenom II X4 960T Gets Unlocked
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Our goal here is to provide a first look into the potential gains of unlocking AMD’s upcoming Phenom II X4 960T, but our early benchmarks are more telling than that.

In light of the fact that pricing data isn’t yet available for AMD’s upcoming creation, we’re left to a bit of guessing. Very consistently, the X4 960T falls behind the previous quad-core flagship, the X4 965 Black Edition. That part is currently priced at $185 on Newegg. The X4 955 comes in at $159. I’d expect AMD to debut its Zosma-based X4 960T somewhere in between.

At that price, and with a bit of overclocking, an unlocked 960T would be quite a value versus the Phenom II X6 1090T at $310. Just remember, if you plan to try your hand at unlocking, you’ll need a board that explicitly supports this feature, like ASRock’s 890FX Deluxe3. Because the SB850 southbridge doesn’t expose ACC functionality, it’s now up to the motherboard vendors to enable core unlocking.

As we’ve observed in the past, I can’t imagine that AMD likes the fact that power users are able to turn on disabled cores. But it can’t ignore the fact that core unlocking, unlocked multipliers, aggressive memory profiles that overclock northbridge frequencies, and low prices are what has helped earn the company accolades amongst enthusiasts, despite the fact that Intel sells faster CPUs.

Of course, while it’s entirely possible that you’ll be able to buy an unlockable 960T, it currently looks like there’s a better than 50% chance of not getting a successful core unlock. With that said, it’s hard to ignore the Phenom II X6 1055T priced at $205, which should consistently outrun Intel’s Core i5-750 in threaded workloads. If you aren't feeling adventurous enough to risk money on a quad-core processor that might actually be an undercover hexa-core champ, go the safe route and overclock AMD's Phenom II X6 1055T.

Update: I just got off the phone with AMD to discuss this part. As it turns out, the Phenom II X4 960T may never see the light of day. This actually happened a while back with a part called the Phenom II X3 740; AMD simply decided that the processor wasn't something that fit well in its product stack. And truth be told, the company has a point, especially in this case. There are already compelling quad-core CPUs in its lineup, so why launch an expensive six-core-cut-down-to-four-core chip to compete against those? "To recover at least some of its investment into the Thuban die with dysfunctional cores" would be one suggestion, but it remains to be seen if there are enough of these to warrant a new SKU.

It might come to pass that Phenom II X4 960T emerges as an OEM component. But as it stands right now, don't expect this one to become a retail part.

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  • 33 Hide
    killerclick , May 11, 2010 8:03 AM
    drownedWhy are we cheering for AMD when they require 2 extra cores and 400 mhz more clock speed just to beat Intel while Intel also maintains 2x the overclocking headroom as AMD?


    Because AMD is the underdog and only jerks don't cheer for the underdog. Also, performance per dollar is on AMD's side right up to the $200 price point. Also, AMD wasn't the company that was fined for bribing and blackmailing retailers to market only their own processors. Also, Intel's 6 core CPU costs $999 and they can go to hell.
  • 16 Hide
    Lmeow , May 11, 2010 9:52 AM
    drownedI know I'm going to get thumbed down a million times for this but I gotta get it out. Why are we cheering for AMD when they require 2 extra cores and 400 mhz more clock speed just to beat Intel while Intel also maintains 2x the overclocking headroom as AMD? Yes I know AMD's prices are great, but tons of applications still only support 1 core where these clock to clock comparisons and overclock-ability are critical.No I'm not saying Intel is the greatest company in the world blah blah because I remember when AMD was handing their ....to them pre-Core2, but I'm struggling to root for AMD when they're handed the mid and high range to Intel and barely have a pulse in the low range against the last-gen core2's and i3's.


    Simply because AMD kicks.... bang for buck. I doubt the majority are going to be able to tell the difference between five and six minutes in rendering time or ~10-20 FPS in games. I hope you know that if AMD goes down, apart from anti-monopoly laws or similar rules, there's nothing much to stop Intel from selling Core i3s for $500.
  • 11 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 11, 2010 7:23 AM
    requiemsallurethe hex core thuban had some problems with gaming for one reason or another, i wonder if in its quad core form the zosma will have the same problems, and if not i wonder if you unlock it, will it receive the same problems? this is all speculation since the zosma is based off of the thuban, its making me very excited for some benchmarks and a review.


    Um Thuban didn't have any problems with gaming? It was only a lil behind deneb cause deneb was clocked higher (965BE). Theres just no reason for thuban to do better since, more cores != better gaming performance.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2010 6:31 AM
    Personally, I think it would be interesting to see some benchmarks for Adobe's Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5. Given that there are more 6 core CPU offerings on the market now. Anyways, thanks for the article.
  • 6 Hide
    HalfHuman , May 11, 2010 7:02 AM
    power consumption?
  • 11 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 11, 2010 7:23 AM
    requiemsallurethe hex core thuban had some problems with gaming for one reason or another, i wonder if in its quad core form the zosma will have the same problems, and if not i wonder if you unlock it, will it receive the same problems? this is all speculation since the zosma is based off of the thuban, its making me very excited for some benchmarks and a review.


    Um Thuban didn't have any problems with gaming? It was only a lil behind deneb cause deneb was clocked higher (965BE). Theres just no reason for thuban to do better since, more cores != better gaming performance.
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , May 11, 2010 7:39 AM
    The strangest thing is the performance of the i7 920 vis-a-vis the i7 930. The i7 975 seems to benefit from clock speed, as do AMD processors, but in most applications there is no difference between the 920 and 930, and in some cases the 920 is slightly faster (probably falling into the range of statistical scatter, though).

    Still, it's odd the performance is essentially the same. You'd expect to see something, especially since 200 MHz for AMD processors shows up pretty clearly.
  • -4 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , May 11, 2010 7:44 AM
    I wish this was the case with unlocking intel processors!
  • 33 Hide
    killerclick , May 11, 2010 8:03 AM
    drownedWhy are we cheering for AMD when they require 2 extra cores and 400 mhz more clock speed just to beat Intel while Intel also maintains 2x the overclocking headroom as AMD?


    Because AMD is the underdog and only jerks don't cheer for the underdog. Also, performance per dollar is on AMD's side right up to the $200 price point. Also, AMD wasn't the company that was fined for bribing and blackmailing retailers to market only their own processors. Also, Intel's 6 core CPU costs $999 and they can go to hell.
  • -6 Hide
    falchard , May 11, 2010 8:33 AM
    This review tells me 1 thing. AMD can probably get away with selling the 1060T for $500.
  • 4 Hide
    anamaniac , May 11, 2010 9:04 AM
    Cool.
    Though, I'm curious, will 2P/4P platforms ever become popular for enthusiasts without raping their wallets?
    I actually considered a 2P LGA 1366 setup, but it was going to be quite pricey.

    However, four $100 quad cores on a $250 4P board and RAM going to a reasonable price again (at the lowest I noticed, I was seeing 4GB DDR3 kits for $35 CAD, now the cheapest 2x2 DDR3 kit on newegg is $100) would be pretty awesome.
    Come on AMD, you're the only one who could do this affordably. :) 

    ...
    Can we have >$10/GB DDR3 back please also? I would hate paying more for RAM than a CPU (I paid $300 for the i7, and $100 for my DDR3 1600 3x2 kit).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2010 9:36 AM
    Doh!!! I just bought a 1090t. Zosma 6c performs like a freaking champ and even on close to the 1090t at times. :(  I guess it works out either way for me... I know have 6 stable cores- to the least.
  • 8 Hide
    jimmysmitty , May 11, 2010 9:52 AM
    The biggest thing Thiban did was it took the same process, added more cores and stayed at the same clock speed while having the same TDP.

    SO why in the blue hell is there not a power consumption test to see if this helped it with 2 less cores?
  • 16 Hide
    Lmeow , May 11, 2010 9:52 AM
    drownedI know I'm going to get thumbed down a million times for this but I gotta get it out. Why are we cheering for AMD when they require 2 extra cores and 400 mhz more clock speed just to beat Intel while Intel also maintains 2x the overclocking headroom as AMD? Yes I know AMD's prices are great, but tons of applications still only support 1 core where these clock to clock comparisons and overclock-ability are critical.No I'm not saying Intel is the greatest company in the world blah blah because I remember when AMD was handing their ....to them pre-Core2, but I'm struggling to root for AMD when they're handed the mid and high range to Intel and barely have a pulse in the low range against the last-gen core2's and i3's.


    Simply because AMD kicks.... bang for buck. I doubt the majority are going to be able to tell the difference between five and six minutes in rendering time or ~10-20 FPS in games. I hope you know that if AMD goes down, apart from anti-monopoly laws or similar rules, there's nothing much to stop Intel from selling Core i3s for $500.
  • 10 Hide
    ohim , May 11, 2010 10:11 AM
    drownedI know I'm going to get thumbed down a million times for this but I gotta get it out. Why are we cheering for AMD when they require 2 extra cores and 400 mhz more clock speed just to beat Intel while Intel also maintains 2x the overclocking headroom as AMD? Yes I know AMD's prices are great, but tons of applications still only support 1 core where these clock to clock comparisons and overclock-ability are critical.No I'm not saying Intel is the greatest company in the world blah blah because I remember when AMD was handing their ....to them pre-Core2, but I'm struggling to root for AMD when they're handed the mid and high range to Intel and barely have a pulse in the low range against the last-gen core2's and i3's.

    Who cares about how many cores or how much MHz are there anymore? Core i7 975 3 times more expensive for the same performance as a PII x6 1090T.
  • -6 Hide
    drowned , May 11, 2010 10:32 AM
    ohimWho cares about how many cores or how much MHz are there anymore? Core i7 975 3 times more expensive for the same performance as a PII x6 1090T.


    Yes I agree that the 975 is a ridiculous waste of money, but just look at the benchmarks. You could take a i5-750, which costs $100 less than the 1090T, overclock it to 4.4 ghz with a good air cooler, and dominate the 1090T in practically every productivity and gaming benchmark out there. There's not many places where the 1090's extra 2 cores are going to help.

    For ex, back in the core2 days I built a gaming rig where I had the choice between a dual core setup vs a quad core setup. I went with the dual core simply because I would very rarely ever benefit from having 4 cores and would more benefit from having faster individual cores. It seems like the argument is repeating itself again except this time it's brand vs brand and not model vs model and it's 4 cores vs 6 cores instead of 2 vs 4.
  • 8 Hide
    barryv88 , May 11, 2010 11:05 AM
    Yes, you are gonna get thumbed a million times because you already know that what you've said is rubbish. Claiming that AMD today can barely perform on par with your stated core2/I3...... yeah right.

    AMD 6core chips today are performing on par with the i7 range. Not in everything, but also not in nothing either. Also, non of Intel's chips AFAIK have unlockable cores. Correct me if I'm wrong. But this article is about unlockable AMD cores. I don't know what boat you've fallen out of.
  • 0 Hide
    MU_Engineer , May 11, 2010 11:20 AM
    anamaniacCool.Though, I'm curious, will 2P/4P platforms ever become popular for enthusiasts without raping their wallets?


    Yes and no. Some 2P decent setups can be had pretty inexpensively for what they are. However, it's a redux of the desktop situation- AMD offers the parts mere mortals can afford, while Intel isn't really competitive until the prices get toward the top end. Two 2.0 GHz, 8-core Opteron 6134s can be had for about $560 for both and a suitable 2P board is $400-450. A dual LGA1366 setup can be had for about the same amount, but for the price the two Opterons and their board run, you'd either be looking at two E5520s (2.27 GHz, 8M L3, HT, Turbo, $775 per pair) on a bottom-end dual LGA1366 board or two E5507s (2.27 GHz, 4M L3, no HT, no Turbo, $540 per pair) on a nice dual LGA1366 board.

    4P is doable with Opteron 6100s as well as you can get four 6128s for a little over a grand. 4P G34 boards run from a little under $800 to a little over $900. The killer here is the minimum of 16 sticks of DDR3 RAM you will need to get full performance. Intel's cheapest 4P-capable Xeon 7500 CPU sells for about a thousand bucks and it's only a quad-core unit. A good Xeon 7500 series CPU like the 8-core X7560 is nearly $4000. That's for one, not for four of them. They also need a bunch of RAM for full performance. Also, don't forget that 4P motherboards are huge, generally measuring 16.something" by 13", which dwarfs typical 12"x13" EATX DP boards and even the unusually EVGA SR-2 dual 1366 unit. You need a very large and very special case to fit those beastly boards unless you're great with metal-working tools and are willing to slice and dice a full-tower EATX case.

    You also hit the nail on the head as far as RAM prices go, they suck at the present.
  • 2 Hide
    Reynod , May 11, 2010 11:42 AM
    Chris did you have turbo enabled on the Zos, or did the mobo not support it?

    The benchies compared to the PhenomII quad just didn't show much difference ... I'd have though the 200Mhz gap vs the respin would bave edged the Zos a bit closer ... or better with turbo enabled.

    A good review nevertheless Chris !!
  • -6 Hide
    abhishekk89 , May 11, 2010 11:49 AM
    the 1055t failed me... so does the 960 now... i was hoping to buy either one of them over the i5 750... seems i'll have to go with intel again..
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