'Secret weapon' to push Phenoms to 3-3.2GHz?

— 4:56 PM on June 5, 2008

If there's one thing that can make Phenom more competitive with Intel's latest and greatest Core 2 processors, it's higher clock speeds. Recent announcements suggest AMD does plan faster Phenoms than the current 2.5GHz 9850 model, but TG Daily claims AMD also has a secret weapon that could increase clock speeds through "hidden pins" on processors and chipsets.

TG Daily cites the example of an upcoming 2.8GHz Phenom Black Edition processor, which it says could get an upgrade to 3GHz or even 3.2GHz thanks to the mysterious system. But this is where it gets weird: supposedly, the higher clock speeds will be tied to SB700 and SB750 south bridge chips. The more recent the south bridge, the higher the clock speed.

This isn't the first time we've heard this rumor, but the explanation remains suspect. South bridge chips deal with peripheral I/O, and in theory, they have nothing to do with CPU speeds. It's possible that this information got jumbled up somewhere along the way and AMD will actually tie this feature to its own chipsets, in which case the limitation might not be a technical one.

Either way, making it easier to run Phenoms at higher-than-stock speeds could make AMD's Spider platform more attractive to enthusiasts—and it could let AMD cleverly push chips beyond their stated thermal envelopes. An Asus statement released earlier this week hints that AMD will soon introduce Phenoms with thermal envelopes of 140W, or 15W higher than the Phenom X4 9850.

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