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.
- Bulldozer First Release and the State of 32nm AMD Parts
- AMD Bulldozer Processor hits 8.429 GHz - New World Record!
- AMD Bulldozer FX Processor Benchmarks Leaked
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.
Subject: Processors | October 3, 2011 - 12:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandy bridge, Intel, i7 2600k, FX 8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd
Intel has held the performance lead for several processor generations now, and while AMD is still technically in the game for home theater PC and budget builds, many enthusiasts have moved to Intel for gaming and high performance computers. Many of those people have also held hope that the chip manufacturer would eventually come back strong and maintain some level of competition in the industry. As we move closer to AMD's Bulldozer launch (which seems to have been confirmed for October 12th), enthusiasts and reviewers alike are clamoring to answer a long awaited question: "will Bulldozer give Intel a run for its money?"
According to website Donanim Haber, enthusiasts’ high hopes may finally be realized. The site has posted several benchmarks results that indicate Bulldozer is not only cheaper than Sandy Bridge, but performs on par with Intel’s top end Sandy Bridge chips. In many tests, the AMD FX 8150 CPU’s eight core performance matches the multi-threaded (8 threads, 4 cores) performance of Intel’s high end Core i7 2600k processor.
In the benchmarks that the site performed, the AMD FX 8150 was tested against the Intel Core i7 980X for 1080p gaming and the Core i7 2500k and 2600k for multi-threaded performance. In the graph shown above, the AMD Bulldozer CPU was roughly on par with the i7 980X, trading wins in some games and providing a similar level of performance in others. The AMD processor won in the Metro 2033 and Lost Planet benchmarks, but was slightly slower in Civilization V and F1 2010. In AVP and Batman (among others), the two competing processors saw equal results.
They also ran several benchmarks using highly multi-threaded programs to take advantage of the many-core designs of the AMD and Intel processors, including WinRar 4, Handbrake, 7zip, and wPrime 32M. The eight core AMD FX 8150 Bulldozer processor was tested against both an Intel Core i5 2500k and a Core i7 2600k. The AMD CPU came out ahead in 7zip, wPrime 32M, and Bibble 5.0. It was slower than the Core i7 2600k in the WinRar 4 tests and slower than both the 2500k and 2600k in the ABBYY OCR10 benchmarks. In the other tests, the AMD processor kept pace with or was only slightly behind the top end Intel 2600k CPU.
From the leaked benchmarks (which you can read here), AMD’s new Bulldozer CPUs have made an admirable showing. Should these benchmarks hold true, Intel will have some serious competition on its hands, something that the company has not had to deal with in a long time. Whether Bulldozer will result in price cuts or ramped up production on the Intel side remains to be seen; however, the results are not going to be easy for Intel to ignore.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Bulldozer news in the coming weeks.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 1, 2011 - 01:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: FX, bulldozer, amd, am3+
AMD has not been too well received in the upper end of CPUs for quite some time now. Once Intel started pushing for performance with their Conroe core, AMD was forced to stay competitive in the mainstream market to survive and that is pretty much where we have been for the last 5 years. Also returning after a nearly 5-year hiatus is the FX moniker for AMD’s flagship products. According to leak(s) from Microcenter that floated past our desks we should see a resurgence of at least one of those two on October 12th, 2011:
"AMD is launching their new AM3+ FX series processors on 10/12/11. We currently have a number of AM3+ compatible motherboards in stock. These motherboards will support the new AM3+ FX processors as well as legacy AM3 processors."
Personally, I would shy away from the words "Bull" and "Dozer" in my product line.
Also from the memo we learned that the new AM3+ FX SKUs that will launch includes: FX-6100, FX-8120, and the FX-8150. The 6000-series parts constitute 6-core processors where the 8000-series parts constitute 8-core parts. To support those processors we shall see three Gigabyte motherboards, four ASUS motherboards, and four ASRock motherboards. Update Oct 1 @ 2pm: There may be more motherboards at launch but since this is a Microcenter leak it only considers their stock.
|ASRock||890FX Deluxe 5|
|ASRock||880G PRO 3*|
|ASRock||890GX PRO 3*|
Each of these motherboards will require a BIOS update to be serviceable though the leak suggests that the update would be performed by Microcenter themselves. If for some reason you have the board on your own you will need an older AM3 processor to perform the update. Also, the last two ASRock motherboards (asterixed) do not yet have a BIOS update for AM3+. AMD is expected to post an official blog about the topic on October 3rd at AMD.com.
Subject: Processors | September 13, 2011 - 09:03 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, overclocking, FX, bulldozer, amd
There is a sub-culture in the computing world that is more or less analogous to the world of NHRA drag racing: liquid nitrogen overclocking. And if you are really serious, liquid helium. During a press event in Austin, TX in August to discuss the upcoming Bulldozer processor, a team of overclockers pushed the new architecture to frequencies well beyond safety and well beyond where they should be. Without giving away the whole story yet, AMD was able to set a new frequency world record...
Sami Mäkinen and his team hit 8.429GHz on liquid nitrogen and liquid helium with a near-production FX processor sample. This bests the reigning record of 8.308 GHz that was hit on a Celeron processor with LN2.
On August 31, an AMD FX processor achieved a frequency of 8.429GHz, a stunning result for a modern, multi-core processor. The record was achieved with several days of preparation and an amazing and inspired run in front of world renowned technology press in Austin, Texas. This frequency bests the prior record of 8.309GHz, and completely blows away any modern desktop processor. Based on our overclocking tests, the AMD FX CPU is a clock eating monster, temporarily able to withstand extreme conditions to achieve amazing speed. Even with more conservative methods, the AMD FX processors, with multiplier unlocked throughout the range, appear to scale with cold. We achieved clock frequencies well above 5GHz using only air or sub-$100 water cooling solutions.
I was in attendance for the event and have to say that group put on a spectacular show and anytime you can play with liquid helium running at near absolute zero temperature, it's worth paying attention! In fact, I put together a video of the event that you can see below and if you haven't participated or seen something of this nature, it is worth checking out!!
Now I need to temper some dreams right now - the chances of you or I reaching these types of clock speeds on the Bulldozer CPUs upon release are pretty close to nil. What was more interesting was the casual overclocking we saw pushing upwards of 4.8+ GHz without breaking a sweat and that is what we will be investigating with our review of the processor later this year.
Update: Here is the screenshot from the official HWBot frequency rankings as well as a different video created by AMD themselves summarizing the event.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | August 13, 2011 - 02:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, FX, octocore, water cooling, sealed loop, LCS, hsf
According to Xbit Labs, AMD is considering switching out the usual air cooler (HSF) for a sealed loop liquid cooling solution (LCS) for its high end FX Processors. Specifically, AMD wants to pair their highest end eight core processor (and possibly the next highest end eight core chip) with the sealed loop liquid cooling solution. This information, they believe, comes from a “source with knowledge of the company’s plans.”
If you are not familiar with the sealed loop water coolers, PC Perspective reviewed the Corsair H70 processor cooler last year and it is a good example. Sealed loop water coolers are similar to the large DIY water cooling loops comprised of a large radiator, copper CPU block, pump, and reservoir all connected in a loop by tubing; however, they usually have smaller radiators and pumps as well as coolant that cannot be refilled (and should not have to be). This coolant carries heat away from the processor to be dissipated through a radiator. Corsair in particular has heavily invested in this once very niche product with it’s H series of coolers.
Traditionally, both Intel and AMD have been content in pairing their chips with mid-range but cheap air coolers that did a decent job of keeping the processors within their thermal limits at stock speeds. Enthusiasts, and especially those interested in overclocking, have generally ditched the included cooler in favor of a more powerful and/or quieter aftermarket cooler. Needless to say, including a cooler, especially with high end chips that will likely go to enthusiasts, that’s never even used only serves to add additional unnecessary cost for both consumers and the manufacturer. Thus, this move to bundle a more powerful sealed loop water cooler with its high end chips may be an attempt by AMD to futher appeal to enthusiasts and keep with their traditional image of being friendly to overclockers and hardware enthusiasts. Having and using a water cooler that is supported by the chip maker certainly doesn’t hurt, especially if it ever came down to warranty and RMA situations. On the other hand, enthusiasts can be very picky about which cooler to use in their systems; therefore, bundling a cooler that is sure to add even more extra cost to the package may not be the right move for AMD. At best, consumers are likely to see an extra $50 or so added to the sure to be pricey highest end eight core chips.
Their idea, if true, surely has merit, but is it wise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!