Could Athlon II X4s have unlockable L3 cache?

These days, Phenom II X3 users with a little free time shouldn't find it too hard to unlock their processors' extra cores. But what do you do when your CPU already comes with four cores enabled? According to a recent post on the XtremeSystems forums, that doesn't always stop the unlocking itch.

A poster by the name of Chinook claims to have obtained one of AMD's upcoming Athlon II X4 620 processors, and he says he was able to unlock the L3 cache on it. He's even posted a CPU-Z validation page and some before-and-after benchmarks, which indeed show a performance increase from the unlocking.

European e-tail listings we recently spotted suggest the Athlon II X4 620 will run at 2.6GHz with 512KB of L2 cache per core, a 95W thermal envelope, DDR3 memory support, and no L3 cache by default. Oh, and it may cost around $105 in the U.S.

Chinook's posts hint that Athlon II X4s may be little more than Phenom II X4s with their L3 cache disabled, potentially because of defects. However, as another XtremeSystems member points out, that evidence contradicts purported die shots of quad-core, L3-cache-free AMD silicon. AMD's own roadmap calls for such a product, code-named Propos (sometimes spelled Propus), to come out this year. (Thanks to AlienBabelTech for the link.)

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