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What is "Stepping" and What does it Mean ?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm ready to buy an Opty 165 for a new machine. This is the first time I've built a system for performance (rather than cost & availability) so any help or advice appreciated.

During my research, I've read a lot about the Opty vs. X2 debate, and I am fairly solid on Opty, not just because of performance, but also the Opty owners are much more enthusiastic supporters and they are being sold for @$330.00 on NewEgg, which makes the price somewhat better as well.

But while looking at Opteron 165's being sold on eBay, I noticed one Vendor extolling the virtues of his CPU's "stepping". There was a string of about 6 characters to describe it, and he was saying his was better (than what I don't know).

What is "stepping" as it pertains to Opterons ? Is this something I should know about ? Can I specify something specific, or do I get whatever they send me.

Does it make a difference ?

Thanks in advance for any help,

Johnny
post #2 of 14
Some steppings overclock better then others, i don't know why, but they do.
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post #3 of 14
as far as opty's go there are certain "versions" that will overclock better and be more giving on taking a bigger overclock. I knwo this is big deal when but say a 146 because the earlier versions will overclock better. You cant really know your steeping until you get the chip. Most opty enthusiasts will even post their steeping in their sig. Search the forums if you like to see what the best one for the 165 is.
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post #4 of 14
There is the stepping name (CAB2E, for example), and there is the date the chip was made (0542 stands for the forty-second week in 2005). CABYE and CAB2Es are a couple of the better steppings. only bad one I know of is the CABGE.

You can find your stepping on the IHS (internal heatsink) on your 165.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
http://www.newegg.com/product/Produc...el+OSA165CDBOX

The above link is for the Opteron 165 being sold for $ 325.00 at NewEgg. It's Model is described as "OSA165CDBOX".

Is the "CDBOX" part of the "C..." series ? If so, how does it overclock ?
post #6 of 14
Nope, that's just part of the model name. You can not find out the stepping without seeing it on the IHS.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
So again, what is "stepping", other than characters on the Internal Heat Sink ?
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Quest
So again, what is "stepping", other than characters on the Internal Heat Sink ?
Stepping is (essentially) a number which indicates a revision of the CPU in some way. Its just the same as with software and the version numbers. When a CPU is first made it is given a stepping (revision) number (001A for example) and when minor bugs/flaws in the CPU design are found or minor improvements to the CPU are made (by the manufacturer) the next batch of CPUs gets another number (001B for example) and this continues (For example: 001C, 001D, 002A, 002B, etc, etc) until a completely new type of CPU comes out and then the "stepping" (revision number) starts from the beginning again.

What Stepping means to the overclocker is that some revisions of a CPU will overclock better than others. So, for example, my Intel Prescott CPU has a stepping called "E0" which Intel overclockers know from experience will generally overclock higher than the same chip with an earlier revision (stepping) called "D0".

That is essentially all it is. Some CPU revisions overclock better than others and overclockers use the "Stepping" (revision number) to find out (through personal experience or via the enthusiast community's group experience) which stepping is best.

Hope this helps.

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post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Given all that you have said (thank you , BTW), can I assume that newer is always better for overclocking ? Your post implies it is.

Or can there be situations where one of these minor "improvements" causes the ability of the CPU to overclock to go down ?

Thanks for your help,

Johnny
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Quest
Given all that you have said (thank you , BTW), can I assume that newer is always better for overclocking ? Your post implies it is.

Or can there be situations where one of these minor "improvements" causes the ability of the CPU to overclock to go down ?

Thanks for your help,

Johnny
Sometimes a later revision will be better for overclocking, sometimes it wont... You have to talk to other people with the CPU you are planning to get and find out what stepping they have and how well they overclocked. Usually there will be a consensus among overclockers as to what the best stepping is, so it's just a matter of asking about. Perhaps you could start a new thread entitled "Opty 165 - Which stepping is best?" or something of the like.

Once you find out which stepping is best, you will have to find a CPU for sale from a company or individual where the stepping is shown, match it up to the one that is supposedly best and make the purchase. Most retailers (that I know of) don't show stepping though, so it can be simply a matter of chance for you to get a CPU with stepping that's considered good for overclocking.

I don't know a whole lot about AMD CPU's as I've never owned or run them, so I'm probably not the best person to ask for AMD specific information, but o/c.net is a good place to find all you'll need to know for a new AMD build, so if you post enough threads you'll undoubtedly find all the info you need.

Good luck with the build!

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