Phenom is the latest CPU series from AMD, based on their K10 architecture. In this short tutorial, we will list the main specs of all Phenom models released thus far.

The Phenom and Phenom II line uses the HyperTransport 3.0 bus between the CPU and the chipset, increasing the available bandwidth between the CPU and the external world. It is important to note that so far Phenom CPUs do not work at the maximum speed provided by HT3. Click here to understand more.

The Phenom series uses a separated voltage source for the CPU and for the embedded memory controller (a.k.a. “split plane” or “Dual Dynamic Power Management,” DDPM), as well as a separated clock generator for the memory controller, with a fixed value. This solves the problem that occurred with Athlon 64 processors where, depending on the CPU, the memories wouldn’t work at their full speed.

The embedded memory controller of the Phenom CPUs supports DDR2 memories up to DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 on socket AM2+ models and DDR3 memories up to DDR3-1333/PC3-10666 on socket AM3 models. Socket AM3 models can be installed on certified socket AM2+ motherboards, allowing them to work with DDR2 memories.

Phenom CPUs can be installed on older socket AM2 motherboards. However, they will be limited to the HyperTransport 2.0 transfer rate of 4,000 MB/s, won’t have the DDPM technology available, and the memory controller will work at a lower clock rate (1.6 GHz).

The basic features of Phenom CPUs include:

  • L1 memory cache of 128 KB per core
  • L2 memory cache of 512 KB per core
  • One L3 memory cache of 2 MB (4 MB or 6 MB on Phenom II) shared by all cores
  • HyperTransport bus working at 1.6 GHz (6,400 MB/s), 1.8 GHz (7,200 MB/s) or 2 GHz (8,000 MB/s), depending on the model. Please notice that HT3 provides two higher speed grades (2.4 GHz/9,600 MB/s and 2.6 GHz/10,400 MB/s) which aren’t being used yet.
  • Socket AM2+ or AM3
  • Support for DDR2 memories up to DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 on socket AM2+ and DDR3 memories up to DDR3-1333/PC3-10666 on socket AM3
  • Use of 65 nm manufacturing process on Phenom and 45 nm process on Phenom II
  • SSE4a instruction set, which is simply the addition of two new SSE instructions. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with SSE4.1 used on some Intel CPUs, which brings 47 new instructions.
  • “Black Edition” models have their clock multiplier unlocked, meaning a higher overclocking capability, as you can configure them as if they were a CPU with a higher clock rate.
  • Automatic overclocking technology on Phenom II X6 (“Turbo Core”)

For a complete explanation about the new K10 architecture, please read our Inside AMD K10 Architecture tutorial.

We will take a look at the models available in the next pages.


Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.