Conclusion: Cautiously Optimistic With A Glimmer Of Hope
According to AMD, Phenom CPUs using the B3 stepping will be available in stores in only a few weeks.
Our conclusion is that the new stepping runs error free from what we can tell so far and is a bit faster than the previous model. This is to be expected, since our sample ran faster than the current top model, the Phenom 9600. We were able to use the new model in our reference motherboard without needing to update the BIOS. The new revision offers the level performance we expected from a Phenom processor of its speed grade as well as equivalent power consumption. (Compare Prices on AMD Phenom Processors)
We estimate that there is still a little room for AMD and the motherboard makers to increase the device's efficiency. Still, this will likely only apply to what an activated and fully supported Cool'n'Quiet mode can offer and will result in minor power consumption savings. We'll offer more detailed results based on much more extensive tests in a few weeks. We will also take a look at the overclocking headroom offered by the new stepping, as this will also let us make predictions regarding possible clock speed increases and thus the introduction of faster models from AMD. We already know that there will be another Black Edition aimed at enthusiasts and overclockers. However, we do not know what the clock speed will be for this part.
Nonetheless, we would like to warn our readers about being too optimistic about the upcoming Phenom revision. In the past, newer AMD's processor revisions have usually brought some advantages with them, especially when moving to a smaller production process, e.g. from 90 nm to 65 nm. Modifications to the core and new steppings tend to have more of an impact on the production process and yield. The end user, on the other hand, may not notice any improvement at all.
By sending us the B3 stepping of its Agena core this early, AMD is trying to do one thing above all: to draw attention. We will see whether this will finally allow AMD to take the decisive step forwards when we look at the test results at the end of the month. For now, the word on the street is that the B3-Phenom will be released later this month.