Site claims to unlock fourth core in Phenom II X3

— 9:47 AM on February 23, 2009

If you read our reviews (or just pay a little attention) you'll probably know AMD doesn't technically make triple-core chips—it just disables a core on its quad-core parts to create Phenom X3s and Phenom II X3s. Well, folks at Korean tech site Playwares claim to have successfully unlocked the missing core on a new Phenom II X3 710.

Using a Biostar TA790GX motherboard with an SB750 south bridge, the site claims enabling the fourth core was as easy as changing an Advanced Clock Calibration setting in the BIOS. More specifically, Playwares set ACC to "Auto." Back in Windows, the site took screenshots of stress testing with four Prime95 instances, each one running on a separate core. Power consumption testing showed a 24W difference at full load when the extra core was enabled.

Of course, even if this is genuine, unlocking Phenom II X3 cores might be risky business—depending on its binning policies, AMD could simply sell chips with a defective fourth core as triple-core Phenoms. It seems likely that Biostar will patch future BIOS releases so the ACC setting no longer enables an extra core. In any case, four 3.12GHz cores definitely isn't a bad deal for $119.

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