A few days ago, I bought a used AMD Phenom 720 x3. That’s a three core processor which seems just a little odd in a world where everything comes in powers of 2. The Phenom II core is supposed to be 0% to 25% faster than the Athlon II core, from what I’ve read. Since processor speeds are not increasing at all these days, the only way to make a significant upgrade is to get more cores.

I’ve read online about over-clocking and even saw forums where people discuss unlocking the fourth core in these processors. It makes sense for the chip manufacturer to disable some part of a chip that malfunctions and then sell that chip for less. It’s better than throwing it in the trash. the funny thing is, sometimes the chip is not malfunctioning. At least the unlockers think that some of the chips have fully functional forth cores. I’m not sure if that’s the truth or not but it’s an interesting idea.

So I’m messing with BIOS settings trying to see what affects the overall system performance and I accidentally unlock my fourth core. I had to go find out what setting changed this because it really was an accident. I changed one setting from “disabled” to some oddball value and the decided it was not a good idea and set it back… to “auto.” that was it. After that, I now have an AMD Phenom II x4. Yeehaw!

My computer is sitting running four threads of of a prime number generator program. It’s supposed to be a good free CPU stress test. It’s been going for eight hours now and the system has not blown up yet or melted yet. Over-clocking is probably out of the questions as I don’t really have any money to replace any burnt system components. Still, the 30% improvement in multi-threaded programs might be a big increase and allow me to finally play COD Black Ops with a reasonable frame rate.

I can only hope.