AM3+ Last Gasp?
Over the past several years I have reviewed quite a few Asus products. The ones that typically grab my attention are the ROG based units. These are usually the most interesting, over the top, and expensive products in their respective fields. Ryan has reviewed the ROG graphics cards, and they have rarely disappointed. I have typically taken a look at the Crosshair series of boards that support AMD CPUs.
Crosshair usually entails the “best of the best” when it comes to features and power delivery. My first brush with these boards was the Crosshair IV. That particular model was only recently taken out of my primary work machine. It proved itself to be an able performer and lasted for years (even overclocked). The Crosshair IV Extreme featured the Lucid Hydra chip to allow mutli-GPU performance without going to pure SLI or Crossfire. The Crosshair V got rid of Lucid and added official SLI support and it incorporated the Supreme FX II X-Fi audio. All of these boards have some things in common. They are fast, they overclock well, and they are among the most expensive motherboards ever for the AMD platform.
So what is there left to add? The Crosshair V is a very able platform for Bulldozer and Piledriver based parts. AMD is not updating the AM3+ chipsets, so we are left with the same 990FX northbridge and the SB950 southie (both of which are essentially the same as the 890FX/SB850). It should be a simple refresh, right? We had Piledriver released a few months ago and there should be some power and BIOS tweaks that can be implemented and then have a rebranded board. Sounds logical, right? Well, thankfully for us, Asus did not follow that path.
The Asus Crosshair V Formula Z is a fairly radical redesign of the previous generation of products. The amount of extra features, design changes, and power characteristics make it a far different creature than the original Crosshair V. While both share many of the same style features, under the skin this is a very different motherboard. I am rather curious why Asus did not brand this as the “Crosshair VI”. Let’s explore, shall we?
The AMD Closed Loop System
Closed loop water cooling is not new, but it certainly is a pretty hot topic now. Some of the first units out there had some interesting issues (like internal corrosion clogging everything up), but once those teething problems were solved the closed loop systems turned out to be pretty effective and easy to install. Initially these units had the performance of a top end air cooler, but with a lot lower noise. The latest generation of liquid cooling systems (LCS) is now further improved and provides performance approaching that of larger, more complex cooling systems. These products will not replace exotic systems like phase change, but they provide a lot of cooling in a fairly decent sized package.
Clean lines and graphics give this box a striking look without being tacky.
Last year with the introduction of the AMD FX-8150, AMD decided to create a SKU which not only included the CPU, but also a fairly robust LCS. This unit is based on an Asetek design which features a double wide cooler/reservoir with the push-me/pull-ya fan combination. Other manufacturers offer this particular product under a variety of names, but this is simply an AMD FX branded unit with some small cosmetic changes to differentiate it from other units.
AMD will eventually offer this cooler with the new Vishera based FX-8350 CPU (or at least we assume they will), and we wanted to take this combination out for a spin. In our FX-8350 review we did not hit the overclocking targets that AMD had set. In most literature that we were provided AMD stated that most FX-8350 parts would be able to hit around 5 GHz with some aggressive cooling. In our review I was able to get to around 4.6 GHz max and around 4.5 GHz stable with better than average cooling. The results were not as impressive as we had hoped, but we again did not have a top end cooling solution such as what AMD provides with this particular LCS.
With a brand new LCS in hand, I retested the FX-8350 to see how hard it could be pushed. I also wanted to see how this particular unit performance in terms of thermal properties. The results were quite surprising for me, as this is my first real experience with a LCS.
Subject: Processors | October 23, 2012 - 02:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, Steamroller, piledriver, FX-8350, fx-8150, FX-6300, FX-6200, bulldozer, amd
The FX-8350 Vishera processor from AMD has finally arrived with 8 fully unlocked cores of polished Piledriver processing power. With Piledriver there are no huge changes to the existing Bulldozer architecture, this is more of a polishing and optimizing the existing architecture and [H]ard|OCP's testing bears that out. While faster than the previous generation FX-8150 it still lags behind Intel's Ivy Bridge processors, disappointing but certainly expected. The unlocked cores do lend themselves somewhat to overclocking, with [H] hitting a stable 4.6GHz with all cores enabled, a 10% jump in frequency. At that speed it does better when competing with Intel's offerings, until you overclock them as well at which point the comparative performance suffers somewhat.
Make sure to catch Josh's review, covering both the 8 core FX-8350 and the $132 FX-6300 which has a disabled module; bringing back memories of older AMD chips whose modules could be brought back to life.
"AMD's new Piledriver core technology should not be a surprise to any enthusiast as much of its "embargoed" information has already been exposed on the Net. Today we take the AMD FX series model 8350 desktop variant, code named Vishera, and look at it in an enthusiast way as we expose its IPC at 4GHz, and a bit of overclocking."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD's FX-8350 processor @ The Tech Report
- AMD FX-8350 "Vishera" Linux Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- AMD FX-8350 8-Core Black Edition Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD Vishera FX-8350 Review @ OCC
- The Vishera Review: AMD FX-8350, FX-8320, FX-6300 and FX-4300 Tested @ AnandTech
- AMD FX-8350: Piledriver @ Bjorn3D
- AMD FX-8350 @ Overclockers.com
- AMD FX-8350 vs Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.8GHz - Multi-GPU Gaming Performance @ VR-Zone
- FX-8350 vs. Core i5-3470 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD FX-8350 (AM3+) Piledriver Processor Review @ eTeknix
- AMD FX-8350 Unlocked "Vishera" Octal Core CPU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD FX-8350 Vishera Desktop Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 @ Legion Hardware
- AMD Piledriver FX Review - FX 8350, 8320, 6300 vs Intel Core i5 and i3 @ hardCOREware
- AMD FX-8350 Processor Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 Piledriver @ TechSpot
- FX-8350 CPU Review; AMD's Vishera Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD FX8350 BE / Gigabyte HD7970 / ASUS Sabretooth 990FX R2 @ Kitguru
- AMD FX 8350 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD FX-8350 - "Piledriver" for AMD Socket AM3+ @ techPowerUp
Bulldozer to Vishera
Bulldozer is the word. Ok, perhaps it is not “the” word, but it is “a” word. When AMD let that little codename slip some years back, AMD enthusiasts and tech journalists started to salivate about the possibilities. Here was a unique and very new architecture that promised excellent single thread performance and outstanding multi-threaded performance all in a package that was easy to swallow and digest. Probiotics for the PC. Some could argue that the end product for Bulldozer and probiotics are the same, but I am not overly fond of writing articles containing four letter colorful metaphors.
The long and short of Bulldozer is that it was a product that was pushed out too fast, it had specifications that were too aggressive for the time, and it never delivered on the promise of the architecture. Logically there are some very good reasons behind the architecture, but implementing these ideas into a successful product is another story altogether. The chip was never able to reach the GHz range it was supposed to and stay within reasonable TDP limits. To get the chip out in a timely manner, timings had to be loosened internally so the chip could even run. Performance per clock was pretty dismal, and the top end FX-8150 was only marginally faster than the previous top end Phenom II X6 1100T. In some cases, the X6 was still faster and a more competent “all around” processor.
There really was not a whole lot for AMD to do about the situation. It had to have a new product, and it just did not turn out as nicely as they had hoped. The reasons for this are legion, but simply put AMD is competing with a company that is over ten times the size, with the resulting R&D budgets that such a size (and margins) can afford. Engineers looking for work are a dime a dozen, and Intel can hire as many as they need. So, instead of respinning Bulldozer ad nauseum and releasing new speed grades throughout the year by tweaking the process and metal layer design, AMD let the product line sit and stagnate at the top end for a year (though they did release higher TDP models based on the dual module FX-4000 and triple module FX-6000 series). Engineers were pushed into more forward looking projects. One of these is Vishera.