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Meet Zosma: AMD's Quad-Core Phenom II X4 960T Gets Unlocked

Conclusion

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.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • 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.
    Reply
  • requiemsallure
    the 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.
    Reply
  • HalfHuman
    power consumption?
    Reply
  • Poisoner
    Wow, AMD kicked a dead horse and put some life into K10.
    Reply
  • IronRyan21
    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.
    Reply
  • drowned
    I 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 ass 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.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    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.
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  • liquidsnake718
    I wish this was the case with unlocking intel processors!
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  • killerclick
    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.
    Reply
  • falchard
    This review tells me 1 thing. AMD can probably get away with selling the 1060T for $500.
    Reply