AMD Phenom II X3 On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 26 May 2009. Page 2 of 11. 28 Comments

While the Phenom and Phenom II are pin compatible and the Phenom II CPUs can be installed in the older AM2+ motherboards, the older Phenom CPUs cannot be installed in the newer AM3 motherboards. Running an AMD Phenom II X3/X4 processor in an older motherboard may also require a BIOS update. The retail version of the AMD Phenom II X3 710 includes the usual basic heatsink.

With the AMD Phenom II X3 710 we used an ASRock M3A780GXH/128M motherboard for testing. This ATX motherboard uses the AMD 780G Chipset with the newer AMD SB710 Southbridge. We will have a full review on this AM3 ASRock motherboard in the near future. When it comes to this motherboard and the newer SB710, we were unsuccessful in booting the Ubuntu 9.04 x86_64 LiveCD (as a USB drive) in this configuration. We ran into the problem of being dropped back down to BusyBox. When switching to the Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 1 release that uses the Linux 2.6.30 kernel, Ubuntu had installed without issues on this motherboard.

The rest of our AMD Phenom II test system included 2GB of OCZ DDR3-1600MHz memory, a Seagate 250GB ST3250310AS Serial ATA 2.0 disk, and an ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card. However, as AMD has yet to support the Linux 2.6.30 kernel with their proprietary Catalyst driver (nor have they even introduced Linux 2.6.29 support yet), we were unable to run any OpenGL benchmarks for today's processor testing. Because of this, there are no gaming benchmarks in this article.

For seeing how well the AMD Phenom II X3 performs, we had compared its performance to that of the older AMD Phenom 9500 as well as to the Intel Core i7 920. With the Core i7 920 we ran it at its stock speeds with an ASRock X58 SuperComputer motherboard and 3GB of CSX DDR3 memory while the rest of the hardware was the same as the Phenom II test setup. For the Phenom 9500 testing we went with an ECS GeForce 8200 motherboard, 2GB of OCZ DDR2 memory, and the rest of the hardware configuration remained the same.

Beyond running the AMD Phenom II X3 710, AMD Phenom 9500, and Intel Core i7 920 at their stock speeds, we also ran with overclocked results for the Phenom II X3 710. First off, when still running at the stock 2.60GHz, we ran the same Linux benchmarks again with the fourth core enabled. When running at stock speeds we were able to activate the fourth core from the ASRock BIOS by setting the Advanced Clock Calibration to automatic. When overclocking, however, the fourth core was not enabled. We were able to push this affordable tri-core processor up to 3.51GHz with ease using stock cooling on this ASRock motherboard. With more tweaking, perhaps a different motherboard, and better cooling we are confident that the Phenom II X3 could have been pushed even further. Beyond running the Phenom II X3 710 at 2.60GHz and 3.51GHz, we also ran it with a moderate overclock of just 3.12GHz.

Clean installations of Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 1 were used on all of the test systems. This Ubuntu build ships with the Linux 2.6.30 (x86_64) kernel, GNOME 2.26.1, X Server 1.6.0, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.2, Mesa 7.4, GCC 4.4.0, and still uses the EXT3 file-system by default. For testing all of this we, of course, used the Phoronix Test Suite. Test profiles used included GraphicsMagick, timed Apache compilation, timed ImageMagick compilation, LAME MP3 encoding, FLAC audio encoding, FFmpeg, GnuPG, OpenSSL, SQLite, PostgreSQL pgbench, dcraw, Crafty, C-Ray, POV-Ray, timed MAFFT alignment, CacheBench, and RAMspeed.



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