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Six-Core CPUs: AMD Thuban And Intel Gulftown

Tom's CPU Architecture Shootout: 16 CPUs, One Core Each, And 3 GHz
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AMD Thuban, 45 nm (Phenom II X6, Rev. E0)

We're using an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T processor based on the E0 stepping. It supports AMD's most recent feature set, including Turbo Core and Cool'n'Quiet. Both technologies were switched off for our tests in order to guarantee a constant 3.0 GHz (though the 1100T runs at 3.3 GHz by default). It boasts 512 KB of L2 cache per core and a 6 MB shared L3 cache. A 45 nm manufacturing process allows this processor to operate at a 125 W thermal design power, and a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller supports modules at up to 1333 MT/s.

Intel Gulftown, 32 nm (Core i7-980X, Rev. B1)

Intel’s 32 nm six-core configuration is referred to as Gulftown. We've seen it manifest as the Core i7-980X, -990X, and -970.  We're using the 3.3 GHz -980X for this experiment, which we drop to 3 GHz by adjusting its multiplier down to 22x.

Despite the fact that the Sandy Bridge design is newer, this is still one of Intel's flagships, if only because of its six-core arrangement, 256 KB of L2 cache per core, and a large, shared 12 MB L3 cache. The downside is that Gulftown requires a more expensive LGA 1366-based platform with triple-channel DDR3 memory. This part is rated for a 130 W TDP.

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  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , 26 July 2011 12:31
    The page selector doesn't work... can you please use standard html dropdown boxes?
  • 3 Hide
    souenzzo , 26 July 2011 13:06
    He missed 2006 with putting the real single-core
  • 2 Hide
    dalauder , 26 July 2011 13:09
    On the 4th page, you call the CPU an i5-530 in bold. I thought that was wrong and read down to see it's an i3-530. Apparently most people are asleep right now, so it's an excellent time to fix typos.
  • 2 Hide
    dalauder , 26 July 2011 13:11
    sasdfasdThe page selector doesn't work... can you please use standard html dropdown boxes?
    Their page selector is finnicky, but as workaround, click the words (and scroll bar that appears), not the drop down arrow, and it will work (just barely though).
  • 2 Hide
    The Greater Good , 26 July 2011 13:12
    Great article, thanks!
  • 1 Hide
    whysobluepandabear , 26 July 2011 13:15
    More proof that an i5-2500k rapes everything AMD has. This isn't like "Well, AMD is $40 cheaper and is pretty close, and even beat Intel in some areas" - It's more like "Intel absolutely rapes everything AMD has to offer...and It's slightly more money".

    Certain features like Quick sync can even make the price difference non-existent to some people, as the time they save is invaluable and well worth an extra X amount.


    Any who, I'm NOT buying AMD until they lower their price, or maintain their price and increase performance. 6 cores, 8 cores, 5,000 cores....it doesn't matter to me - mostly because the software doesn't utilize that many cores and clock per clock, they can't get in the game with Intel.
  • 2 Hide
    ryandsouza , 26 July 2011 13:22
    Correct me if I'm wrong... but looks like the CPU-Z snapshots for AMD Windsor and Brisbane are interchanged...
  • 3 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , 26 July 2011 13:39
    I think the P4 results are pretty awesome. Damn, I'm so glad I never bought one of those. Given recent events, I sometimes forget how awesome the Athlon 64 was back in the day.
  • 2 Hide
    dalauder , 26 July 2011 13:47
    Great article. There are a few caveats of your methods that should be mentioned as well as another pro-AMD qualifier in your conclusion.
    1) Disabling cores gives a Cache size advantage to whichever architecture initially had a larger cache. The point being the disabled i7-980X has extra cache to work with (but same 2GB/per core) as the i7-970. There may be some other examples as well. Overall--great implentation of evening the playing field.
    2) AMD CPUs often come stock at higher clock speeds when compared to Core 2 architecture. This should be stated because a Core 2 Quad loses to a Phenom II x4 specifically because the Core 2 Quad often only OC's to 3.5GHz easily and the Phenom II x4's hit 4.0GHz (and more easily since most are Black Edition). I'd have been satisfied with a simple reminder like "one must consider clock speeds when comparing comparable architectures such as Core 2 Duo v. K10". (Phenoms also have that L3 cache).

    But your bottom line that AMD really needs to bring something to the table with Zambezi remains true. There isn't a price point over $100 that AMD competes well at.
  • 1 Hide
    americanbrian , 26 July 2011 21:33
    Ummm, also might it be pointed out that none of the Llano chips were used. This seems like a serious omission as these should be the most representative of what AMD currently has to offer. And the fact that you must have them lying about from your previous review.

    Seriously undermines the value of the article as most of us would love to do a side by side comparison of the BD vs SB architectures.
  • 1 Hide
    dalauder , 27 July 2011 07:04
    americanbrianUmmm, also might it be pointed out that none of the Llano chips were used. This seems like a serious omission as these should be the most representative of what AMD currently has to offer. And the fact that you must have them lying about from your previous review. Seriously undermines the value of the article as most of us would love to do a side by side comparison of the BD vs SB architectures.
    How does it undermine anything? A Llano chip is just a Phenom II w/o the L3 cache, but a doubled L2 cache that mostly makes up for it. Performance wise, the only real difference is clock speed (and integrated graphics, but graphics aren't tested here).

    Llano doesn't do anything impressive or special as a CPU--it's the fact that it's integrated graphics do everything an average user wants very well in a single cost efficient package that's special.
  • 1 Hide
    americanbrian , 27 July 2011 17:21
    @dalauder

    It is just that it appears that the reviewer must have conciously chosen NOT to use AMD's most recent hardware while choosing to use INTEL's latest and greatest.

    It just indicates a possible biase. I am aware that the llano chips aren't greatly different in architecture, they have however received a process shrink. I am just annoyed that they chose not to include it as otherwise it is a very interesting well thought out article.

    It is a glaring oversight. 'Nuff said.
  • 1 Hide
    Alatheia00 , 31 July 2011 02:30
    @ dalauder

    I would have to agree with 'americanbrian', as this piece as an Intel vs Amd comparison should really include the latest chips from both companies, as well as older architectures. The smaller SOC's are keeping the market competitive.

    Although I would have to agree that currently AMD per clock is simply not competing and regardless of 'Zambezi' processing power, an Intel die shrink will inevitably give them the lead again in the chip race.

    I wonder what the smallest process shrink will be? Graphene cpu's would be amazing.

  • 1 Hide
    ivanthechemist , 12 August 2011 21:33
    I really want to see a GPU oriented test like this one. And to compare a little the total performance increase trough the years.
  • 0 Hide
    cozsmin , 1 October 2011 21:03
    dragonsqrrlI think the P4 results are pretty awesome. Damn, I'm so glad I never bought one of those. Given recent events, I sometimes forget how awesome the Athlon 64 was back in the day.


    I like to see that the difference in performance between an Athlon X2 6000+ does not change vs the P4

    check this out : http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/cpu-charts-2006/Call-of-Duty-2,39.html
    and see the same performace difference for the X2 6000+ with all core enabled

    I don't think that disabling cores in the bios makes any big difference