The early bird gets the Bulldozer

Subject: Processors | October 12, 2011 - 04:44 AM |
Tagged: fx-8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 990fx

You've been waiting through years of rumour and innuendo but the day has finally arrive, AMD's brand new Bulldozer architecture is here.  It is like nothing we've seen before in any chip based off of the venerable Athlon line, which has served dutifully for over a decade.  Bulldozer takes AMD's vision of a dual core processor not as two cores sewn together, but more as Siamese twins which share vital resources and are so closely conjoined that you cannot truly say where one ends and the other begins.  The Bulldozer core is exactly that, while only four Bulldozer cores exist they can handle eight integer execution units, and four shared 2 x 128 bit floating point/SIMD which is interpreted by your OS as 8 cores.

Implementing a new technology is not without its drawbacks.  The Athlon/Phenom architecture has been perfected by AMD thanks to its long life, while the Bulldozer is brand new and they've already started polishing it into Piledriver which will we see in the not too distant future (especially compared to the wait for Bulldozer).  That immaturity is shown in Ryan's review where he compares it clock for clock to a Phenom II.  It gets worse when compared against SandyBridge as the Bulldozer can at most occaisonally equal the performance of an i7-2600K.  The only saving grace is price when you look at heavily multi-threaded applications and there are not many out there. 

 However one benchmark cannot tell the whole story, which is why [H]ard|OCP released two reviews on Bulldozer which focus on different aspects of the chips performance.  Start off with their look at the performance which will give you an idea of how the chip performs under normal circumstances with its power saving features enabled and overclocked with those features disabled.  Then they head onto what most people are interested in, the gaming benchmarks.  Theoretical and productivity software benchmarks are one thing but we've all got to have fun sometimes and for those moments the new FX chips don't look too bad at all ... unless you are a Civ V fan.  

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"Computer hardware enthusiasts have literally waited for years for AMD's Bulldozer architecture to come to market and we finally see this today in its desktop form, code named Zambezi, brand named AMD FX. In this article we share with you our analysis of Bulldozer's performance in synthetic benchmarks and desktop applications."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Bulldozer Architecture

Introduction

Bulldozer.  Since its initial unveiling and placement on the roadmap many have called the Bulldozer architecture the savior of AMD, the processor that would finally turn the tide back against Intel and its dominance in the performance desktop market.  After quite literally YEARS of waiting we have finally gotten our hands on the Bulldozer processors, now called the AMD FX series of CPUs, and can report on our performance and benchmarking of the platform.

With all of the leaks surrounding the FX processor launch you might be surprised by quite a bit of our findings - both on the positive and the negative side of things.  With all of the news in the past weeks about Bulldozer, now we can finally give you the REAL information.

Before we dive right into the performance part of our story I think it is important to revisit the Bulldozer architecture and describe what makes it different than the Phenom II architecutre as well as Intel's Sandy Bridge design.  Josh wrote up a great look at the architecture earlier in the year with information that is still 100% pertinent and we recount much of that writing here.  If you are comfortable with the architeture design points, then feel free to skip ahead to the sections you are more interested in - but I recommend highly you give the data below a look first. 

The below text was taken from Bulldozer at ISSCC 2011 - The Future of AMD Processors.

Bulldozer Architecture Revisited

Bulldozer brings very little from the previous generation of CPUs, except perhaps the experience of the engineers working on these designs.  Since the original Athlon, the basic floor plan of the CPU architecture AMD has used is relatively unchanged.  Certainly there were significant changes throughout the years to keep up in performance, but the 10,000 foot view of the actual decode, integer, and floating point units were very similar throughout the years.  TLB’s increasing in size, more instructions in flight, etc. were all tweaked and improved upon.  Aspects such as larger L2 caches, integrated memory controllers, and the addition of a shared L3 cache have all brought improvements to the architecture.  But the overall data flow is very similar to that of the original Athlon introduced 14 years ago.

As covered in our previous article about Bulldozer, it is a modular design which will come in several flavors depending on the market it is addressing.  The basic building block of the Bulldozer core is a 213 million transistor unit which features 2 MB of L2 cache.  This block contains the fetch and decode unit, two integer execution units, a shared 2 x 128 bit floating point/SIMD unit, L1 data and instruction caches, and a large shared L2 unit.  All of this is manufactured on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 32nm, 11 metal layer SOI process.  This entire unit, plus 2 MB of L2 cache, is contained in approximately 30.9 mm squared of die space.

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Continue reading our review of the AMD FX Processor (codenamed Bulldozer)!!

More fun with AMD's new 990FX chipset

Subject: Motherboards | June 27, 2011 - 07:08 PM |
Tagged: Sabertooth, asus, amd, 990fx

The ASUS Sabertooth 990FX is not a ROG board as you might expect, instead it bears a logo describing it as a member of "THE ULTIMATE FORCE" aka TUF.  This AM3+ board still features some serious extras, from TUF components and MemOK as well as DIGI+ VRM which denotes an 8+2 power phases on the board and the ability to run 2 of it's 3 PCIe slots at a full 16x simultaneously.  Legit Reviews used the Phenom II X6 1100T BE to power the system during their testing as we are still awaiting the release of the AM3+ CPUs from AMD.  From their testing this $200 board takes top spot, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbp/s performance were significantly ahead of the 890FX board they compared the Sabertooth to, making this a worthy upgrade for AMD users.

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"ASUS hit the mark with the Sabertooth 990FX! The Sabertooth 990FX was able to dig its teeth into everything we threw at it and be the dominant force in the charts! If you're in the market for a motherboard the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX should be at the top of your short list..."

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PC Perspective Podcast #158 - MSI P67-GD80 Motherboard review, Antec Performance P280 case, Corsair Force 3 SSD recall and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2011 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Intel, computex, amd, 990fx

PC Perspective Podcast #158 - 6/09/2011

This week we talk about the MSI P67-GD80 Motherboard review, Antec Performance P280 case, Corsair Force 3 SSD recall and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:00:43

Program Schedule:

 

  1. 0:00:33 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:50 AMD 990FX/SB950 Release: Asus SABERTOOTH 990FX and the MSI 990FXA-GD80
  6. 0:04:10 MSI P67A-GD80 LGA 1155 ATX Motherboard Review
  7. 0:06:42 MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK Graphic Card Review
  8. 0:14:23 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:15:02 PowerColor Shows Off New 4GB AMD Graphics Card With Two Stock Clocked 6970 GPUs
  10. 0:20:18 Antec Performance P280 Case First Look at Computex
  11. 0:23:40 ECS Motherboards on display at Computex 2011
  12. 0:27:02 MSI shows Gen3 PCIe, X79 Motherboard and GTX 580 Extreme
  13. 0:33:12 Thermaltake Level 10 GT White, Frio GT and BigWater coolers and USB Power Strip
  14. 0:39:05 AMD Brings Back FX Branding For High-End CPUs and Motherboards at E3
  15. 0:40:18 Corsair recalls entire Force Series 3 SSD line, cites hardware defects
  16. 0:44:05 PNY and Asetek Team Up to Deliver Sealed-Loop Water Cooling for CPUs and Graphics Cards
  17. 0:48:30 Just Delivered.  Large, nifty video card. - MSI N580GTX Lightning Extreme
  18. 0:49:45 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  19. 0:51:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Gold bar USB 3.0 drive
    2. Jeremy: Still like the newstweak, but if'n I used it up then IPv6 didn't destroy the world!
    3. Josh: Boston Lager Cut!  http://www.samueladams.com/promos/lager-and-beef/lagercut.aspx
    4. Allyn: Intel 320 Warranty = 5 years
  20. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  21. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  22. 0:59:23 Closing

 

 

Source:

ECS Motherboards on display at Computex 2011

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2011 - 02:42 AM |
Tagged: x79, fusion, ECS, e-350, computex, 990fx

ECS, aka Elitegroup, had a large booth at Computex that focused more on its ODM aspects than consumer aspects, but there were still a couple of interesting designs to look at.

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The board we spotted was the new A990FXM-A motherboard that is of course based on the latest 990FX chipset from AMD.  Supporting the AM3+ processor socket and thus the pending AMD Bulldozer processors, the 990FX is going to be a long term product rather than a short term. One interesting addition to the board is found on the chipset heatsink that has a temperature reactive plastic on it that will turn from grey to orange-ish as the ambient case temperature increases.  This could be a great feature to easily gauge the heat level inside a windowed case.  

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Also an interesting move, ECS has elongated the receptacle on the 8-pin CPU power connection to make it easier to plug in and to remove.  If you have ever experienced a pinched finger or sliced finger nail from trying to reach down and unplug an ATX connector, you will see this as a nice addition.

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ECS also had its X79 motherboard variant on display, showing the company's readiness for the pending Sandy Bridge-E release.

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Also on the motherboard wall was the upcoming A75F-A with support for the AMD Llano Fusion-based processors that should be ready later in the summer. 

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Finally, a motherboard that we have just recently received for review purposes, the HDC-I is an AMD E-350 or E-240 Zacate platform mini-ITX form factor.  This solution might be a great option for users looking to build an HTPC box so be sure you check out our full review coming shortly.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: ECS

One order of 990FX, hold the Zambezi

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2011 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: 990fx, MSI 990FXA-GD80, msi

The MSI 990FXA-GD80 is, as we have come to find out, mostly a rebadged 890FX chipset with Socket AM3+ to allow for Bulldozer support when they eventually hit the market.  In and of its self, the term rebadged carries a fair amount of negative connotations; there is a plus side to this as well, as you can be guaranteed the technology behind it is mature and you shouldn't end up cutting yourself on the leading edge of technology.  [H]ard|OCP found the exception that proved the rule in this board, as the BIOS seemed to give them no end of troubles.  Read on to see exactly what hurdles they encountered and how they overcame them.

You can see Josh contrast the MSI 990FXA-GD80 with the Asus SABERTOOTH 990FX in his review as well.

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"AMD’s new 990FX chipset supports the upcoming Q3 Bulldozer release and now have motherboard manufacturers clamoring to put out new product designed for the Zambezi desktop processors. MSI is no exception and as a result it is introducing its 990FXA-GD80. Sans Zambezi."

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Unleashes the 990FX: Paving the way for Bulldozer

Word of the AMD 990FX chipset first came around the end of last year.  Speculation was brisk as to what new features it would bring, and when exactly it would help to usher in the age of Bulldozer to the world.  Most thought that it would be a shrink of the then current 890FX, and the new SB950 southbridge would have improvements to the SATA 6G controller, as well as a native USB 3.0 implementation.  Today we finally get to see the reality of the situation.  It is not groundbreaking, nor is it altogether exciting, but it is certainly interesting.

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 The 990FX and SB950 chips are identical to the previous 890FX and SB850.  They are the same silicon.  For those hoping for new technology will be disappointed.  But all is not lost!  AMD did increase the HyperTransport specification from 3.0 to 3.1, which allows the HT bus to run at 6.4 GTPS as compared to the older 5.2 GTPS.  This is in place to allow the upcoming Bulldozer chips to run the northbridge portion of the chip up to 3.2 GHz, and to give the CPU more bandwidth between the different busses on the board (eg. SATA, USB 3.0, and PCI-E connections).

MSI shows Gen3 PCIe, X79 Motherboard and GTX 580 Extreme

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: computex, msi, pcie, x79, 990fx, z68

MSI had quite a showing at this year's Computex starting with a host of new motherboards based on the Z68 chipset.  The most interesting of which was the new Z68A-GD80 (G3) that in addition to including all the features of the Sandy Bridge processor, SLI, CrossFire, Lucid Virtu and things like OC Genie II and Military Class Components II, is the first motherboard we have seen that integrates support for the PCI Express 3.0 specification.

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MSI was able to do this by simply adhering to the already existing PCIe 3.0 specifications and claims the performance doubles from 8 GB/s up to 16 GB/s (for a x16 connection).  Even though there are no PCIe 3.0 accessories or graphics cards on the market today, MSI has seen performance improvements when testing PCI Express based solid state drives like the OCZ Revo.  We are eager to get this board in the hands of our storage guru and see what advantages it offers users today.

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Next up is the new MSI 990FXA-GD80 motherboard based on AMD's latest 990FX chipset.  We actually have one of these in the office and should have a review up shortly.  With support for today's Phenom processors and tomorrow's Bulldozer-core based designs, I think the 990FX chipset will find its way into a lot of users machines.

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Even further out into the future, we saw a glimpse of an MSI engineering sample for the pending Socket 2011 processors from Intel, the MSI X79A-GD65.  Supporting the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor family and a new quad-channel memory controller, you can clearly see the 2011 socket is HUGE and requires the memory slots to be divided up on either side of it. A lot will change more than likely between now and this boards release but it is cool to see a preview of what is in store for us!

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Finally, MSI did have another card in the Lightning series to show off, the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition.  This card has all the same engineering features of the previous Lightning models but adds in a couple of unique features called Smart Temp Sensor and Dust Removal.

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The Smart Temp Sensor is actually a coating on the fan that changes from blue to white in appearance as the ambient temperature increases.  If the inside of your chassis hits the 45C mark then the fans will be completely white and should give you an indication of system stability.  My only concern is that even users with windows on their cases will have trouble seeing the fans on the graphics card cooler posted at a right angle. 

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The Dust Removal feature is more interesting in that it runs the fans on the Xtreme Edition in the reverse direction for the first 30 seconds of the power cycle and then return to the proper direction for cooling the heatsinks.  The idea is that the 30 second reverse interval will help clear out dust from the heatsink and from the fan blades itself saving users in the long run.

Another interesting feature coming very soon to Android phone users is the ability to monitor and overclock your MSI graphics cards via an Afterburner app for your phone.  This will be available this month or early in July for Android and *maybe* by the end of the year for iPhone.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: MSI

MSI Officially Unveils AMD 9-Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 1, 2011 - 03:49 AM |
Tagged: msi, motherboard, bulldozer, amd, 990fx

Popular enthusiast motherboard maker MSI, today officially launched a new line of motherboards supporting AMD’s 9-Series chipsets. Specifically, the 990FXA-GD80 and the 990FXA-GD65 motherboards bring support for AMDs latest native eight-core AM3+ processors. The high-end motherboard, the 990FXA-GD80, comes equipped with MSI’s OC Genie II overclocking technology as well as “Military Class II components with MIL-STD-810G Certification.”

Further, the new 9-series lineup features support for both NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX multi-GPU technology, USB 3.0, native SATA III 6Gb/s, and THX TruStudio PRO surround sound.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

 

Source: MSI

The backwards compatible 990FX has arrived; before the AM3+ chips even

Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2011 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: am3+, 990fx, amd

Hi Tech Legion has published their review of the ASUS Crosshair V Formula 990FX, the new AM3+ chipset from AMD.  While it is intended for the upcoming Bulldozer chips it is compatible with AM3 chips like the Phenom II X6 1090T they used to test.  It has three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots and two PCIe slots, one a x4 slot and one a 1x and even a legacy PCI slot.  The SB950 South Bridge supports six SATA 6Gb/s ports with RAID 0,1,5,10 and AMD's Asmedia USB 3.0 controller offers six USB 3.0 ports.  Audio is handled by the upremeFX X-Fi 2 and there are a host of other features available which you can read about in the full review.

Also keep an eye out on our front page, as Josh is finishing up his review as well.

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"The ASUS Crosshair V Formula is an AM3+ motherboard from the Republic of Gamers lineup. The Crosshair V Formula is designed for hardcore gamers and overclockers who want the best and latest AM3+ motherboard. The ASUS Crosshair V Formula ROG motherboard is equipped with the 990FX/SB950 chipset, featuring native SATA 6Gb/s support and full compatibility with upcoming Bulldozer based 32nm AMD processors. For additional high-speed connectivity, the ASUS Crosshair V Formula is also equipped with an Asmedia USB 3.0 controller, boasting superior performance over the NEC USB 3.0 controller prevalent among the latest motherboards in the market. As with all the recent ROG-series boards, the ASUS Crosshair V Formula is powered by the Extreme Engine DIGI+ design, providing highly efficient and superior power delivery on the AM3+ platform."

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