Thursday, December 6th 2007

Phenom BIOS Fix Causes 14% Performance Hit

As many readers may be aware, there is an erratum (a mistake in the design) of AMD’s recently launched Phenom CPU. Basically it’s a problem with the CPU’s translation lookaside buffer (TLB) and L3 cache, which can lead to crashes and data corruption. This was quickly discovered, and AMD issued a BIOS fix in response. However, recent tests carried out by The Tech Report found that as a result of this fix, memory bandwidth fell by as much as 38.7% whilst the latency increased by over 50%. When they tested the real world performance hit caused by this, they found it ranged from around 5% to as much as 50% in everyday applications, with an average performance drop of 13.9%. This issue should be fixed in any CPUs manufactured in the future, but things look quite bleak for anyone who has already purchased a Phenom processor, and it would be best not to buy one until all of the ‘faulty’ processors have either been sold or recalled. This is very bad news for AMD, considering that it has already been struggling to make a profit for quite a few months now.Source: The Tech Report via HCW Blog
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37 Comments on Phenom BIOS Fix Causes 14% Performance Hit

#1
mandelore
Get yer bleedin finger out AMD and get it right!
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#2
wickerman
I already have a phenom 9500 here and I have decided to use it in my every day workhorse,that does my video editing, photo editing, and gaming. Thus far I have no complaints about performance, it seems as strong or stronger than my x2 3800 (@2.6) had, so I have no complaints. I am running a basic 690G board (dont feel like paying $250 for a 790FX with SB600) with the latest 1501 bios, I am not sure if this contains the fix or not but it did reduce my 3dmark by a couple of hundred points, but it also fixed the problem I had with my video card. With 1401 I couldnt overclock it, with 1501 I can, so that makes up for the reduced cpu score i guess. Its an M2A-VM, a board I've used many times so I figured it would work well.

That being said, I still have my x2 running at 2.6, i have a 3ghz core 2 (e6300) and a Q6600 running at 3ghz, and for some items the core 2 and quad are both faster and I see no reason to deny that. Even at 2.4 the q6600 feels stronger and the benchmarks reflect it. Anyone looking for a quad right now should probably look at intel, unless you have an AM2 board and just want a drop in upgrade (just update the bios first :P).

As a tweaker and an overclocker I am not happy with my phenom X4, I dont think this one will get beyond 2.5ghz on this 690g, I could probably get higher on one of the native chipsets (7x0 series) but its performance scalability will have to come into question once again and its certainly put doubt in my mind if an overclocked phenom will really compete with intels current quads or upcoming quads.
But as a day to day user I have had no complaints. At stock 2.2 I've been running F@H 24/7, I've been doing about 50gb of video editing and encoding a day, and its not only faster than the X2 at that, I see the advantage of quad cores coming through just as I did doing the same with a core 2 and core 2 quad. The amount of work you can do at a time on a quad core is certainly well worth the investment over a dual core, doesnt matter which side of the fence your on. None of my dual cores (PD, X2, Core 2) allowed me to scan, edit, and encode several mpegs at a time without a big impact on performance, the quads (X4 and core 2 Quad) do not have this issue. So its performance being slower than the core 2 quads, still leaves it a better option than most of the dual cores for high load.

So I'm a bit on the fence about suggesting phenom X4 to anyone, regardless what people tell you the performance is there, but a 2.2ghz X4 isnt gunna compete against anything on intels quad core line up. Anyone who is big on multitasking and wants something faster than their current AM2 single or dual core...by all means grab a phenom X4, your not gunna get an entire intel quad core box for $250, so may as well drop a new chip in your current set up.

First generation products are generally a "dont buy", I'll bet AMD will have success with their quad cores, but right now...once again, intel has the faster product. Big drops in performance due to a bug fix is not gunna go over well, even if the price was dropped further. AMD needs a bit help right now thats for sure :(
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#3
PVTCaboose1337
Graphical Hacker
I am thinking... well I KNOW I will be getting one and this is crap. Man but, come on my First gen AM2 was amazing for what it is, works fine (well kinda, stock clock is 2411 mHz, no matter what) but it works fine, functions well, and they better damn well fix this or they have lost a customer.
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#4
zOaib
AMD , is in the Ditch with this Honestly ................. i know some executives are getting fired or will resign very soon.
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#5
trog100
by: zOaib
AMD , is in the Ditch with this Honestly ................. i know some executives are getting fired or will resign very soon.
yes.. as each day passes it gets worse..

trog
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#6
DrunkenMafia
I couldn't imagine that amd would be a very nice place to work at atm... lol

Intel on the other hand.... well they are probably getting nice big chrissy bonus'.... :laugh:
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#7
newbielives
I can see the Intel Bigwigs calling a urgent meeting where they sit around a table and laugh for 15 minutes before declaring the meeting adjourned.
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#8
jpierce55
:shadedshu I used to be an AMD fan, now AMD sucks.
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#9
panchoman
Sold my stars!
by: jpierce55
:shadedshu I used to be an AMD fan, now AMD sucks.
every company has its ups and downs. a true fan would still be supporting amd now... amd seems to be prospering with barcelonas, and the ati sector of amd is really kicking some ass and giving nvidia some trouble, as for phenoms, amd should start digging a grave..
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#10
0elemental0
amd exec speaking to a designer --" the patch does what now??? """

designer ''well it lowers the performance a little"

exec- "whats a little"....." nevermind,,,you know what, youre shitcanned. "

i wanted these chips to be good, man, i really did
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#11
DaMulta
My stars went supernova
I wonder if it will OC with the patch....
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#12
kwchang007
Um OUCH that's a big hit....honestly this launch has gone wrong in so many ways. I just hope AMD can fix these problems and start producing good cpus.
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#13
Scrizz
I might get an AMD GFX card, but I'm definately not getting their procs
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#14
[I.R.A]_FBi
by: Scrizz
I might get an AMD GFX card, but I'm definately not getting their procs
agreed!
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#15
jpierce55
by: panchoman
every company has its ups and downs. a true fan would still be supporting amd now... amd seems to be prospering with barcelonas, and the ati sector of amd is really kicking some ass and giving nvidia some trouble, as for phenoms, amd should start digging a grave..
I purchased a 5000+ black edition on Black Friday and have a 3870. I am also building a pc for somebody that will be a Christmas gift for his wife, and it will be an AMD x2. So I do still support them. For how long can I support them? I hope a long time, either that or some new competition needs to show.

They still have the budget build and the majority of people are perfectly happy with singles and duals are more than enough. AMD is the best for the budget build, no doubt, but the Phenom is a joke, and from Trog's experience I am worried about the 3870's in x-fire.
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#16
wazzledoozle
AMD needs to recall those cpu's unless they want a big PR disaster.
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#17
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
ITs not all bad. Unforseen problem is all. Im sure the next revision (stepping) will have folks singing their praises. Just be patient...shit. The phenoms are still quite excellent.
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#18
TheGuruStud
No reason to update the bios anyway. This is all in lab testing as far as I've heard. Only in rare scenarios would the errata cause noticeable perf. issues or data corruption.
(please correct me if I'm wrong)
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#19
Steevo
Actually the issues were only on a very few scenerios. The whole thing is overplayed, but the performance issues caused by the relaxation of timings is unacceptable.


I bet whoever fixed the problem did get a big bonus.
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#20
OrbitzXT
by: panchoman
every company has its ups and downs. a true fan would still be supporting amd now... amd seems to be prospering with barcelonas, and the ati sector of amd is really kicking some ass and giving nvidia some trouble, as for phenoms, amd should start digging a grave..
Honestly, what is the point of liking a company? A company wants money from you, to get your money they sell a product. You the consumer decide if its worth it, if it is you buy it! I've bought tons of products from AMD before they acquired ATI, I had various ATI cards in my life, lately I've owned a number of nVidia cards. I realize that its competition that drives a company to better their product and outperform their competitors, and by no means do I want to see AMD collapse and disappear..that would be awful.

But just like Pancho says, every company has their ups and down. A fan that pays for and supports an inferior product is called a Mets fan, and I am one. When it comes to physical products though I've never understood the need to pick a side and stick with it no matter what. AMD's processors seem weak right now and I have no interest in the Phenom, but they have potential in other areas. Their future video cards with two GPUs on a single card sounds like it has some potential and I look forward to that, but if it bombs...I'll go with something else. Its as simple as that. Could anyone explain to me why you cheer a money seeking company?
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#21
wickerman
the only issue I've seen so far was above 2.4ghz I couldnt run F@H at all, soon as it downloaded and loaded the wu it would cause an error and id download a new one. Superpi, 3dmark, crysis, TF2, etc, and even my music and video editing didnt see any stability issues, just F@H.
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#22
Imperceptible
by: panchoman
the ati sector of amd is really kicking some ass and giving nvidia some trouble
By releasing chips which under perform nvidia cards.
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#23
mandelore
by: Scrizz
I might get an AMD GFX card, but I'm definately not getting their procs
noooooooooo... A-T-I GFX card, dont jinx em by saying they are AMD :p
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#24
mandelore
by: Imperceptible
By releasing chips which under perform nvidia cards.
Don't you mean:

by: Imperceptible
By releasing chips which under perform nvidia cards slightly at a fraction of the cost?.
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#25
TheGuruStud
by: mandelore
Don't you mean:
No, substantially less speed (to a real gamer IMO) and at lesser price point that's not worth the decrease in perf. I'll shell out a little extra for the 8800 GT or new GTS. Plus, it'll really shine when I volt mod it :)
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