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: Motherboards | October 31, 2012 - 03:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vishera, phenom, motherboard, ECS, atx, amd, am3, a970m-a deluxe
Elitegroup Computer Systems is on a roll this week for launching motherboards supporting AMD processors. In addition to its mini ITX offerings, the company is launching the A970M-A Deluxe in it’s full gold-clad ATX form factor glory (heh). It offers up support for AMD’s latest FX and Phenom II series processors along with SATA III 6Gbps and USB 3.0 for speedy storage. Unfortunately, there is no PCI-E 3.0. Otherwise, this is a high end motherboard and has the feature set to match.
In typical ECS fashion, the company has outfitted the board with gold colored heatsinks, EZ BIOS, solid capacitors, “Thor Ultra Protection,” a dust shield, and support for up to 140W TDP processors, among other features. The EZ BIOS is actually a uEFI BIOS that allows you to tweak settings using a graphical interface as well as automatic overclocking functionality that can overclock the AMD processor for you (to an extent).
Internal IO and board layout
The board has several gold-colored heatsinks over the VRM and southbridge hardware. Along the top of the board lies the AM3+ CPU socket and four DDR3 DIMM slots. The board supports up to 2133 MHz memory when overclocked and up to 32 GB of RAM (when using 8GB DIMMs). Expansion slots include two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. The lower-right corner features five SATA III 6Gbps ports – two of which are positioned at right angles to the board. Expansion headers include three fan headers, one COM header, and three USB 2.0 headers (up to 6 additional ports) are also included on the board.
The rear panel IO includes:
- 1 x PS/2 combo port
- 1 x RJ45 port (Realtek 8111E Gigabit LAN Controller)
- 1 x eSATA 6Gbps port
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 8 x USB 2.0 ports
- 5 x Analog audio jacks (4 line out, 1 line in. Realtek ALC892 codec)
- 1 x S/PDIF optical audio output
While we do not yet have US pricing, when converted from the stated RS 9,000 (according to Think Digit)to USD, the board is just under $170. No word yet on stateside availability. You can find more information on the ECS specifcations page.
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 02:26 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, vivotab rt, vishera, tegra, podcast, nvidia, n668, linus, fx 8350, fx 6300, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #224 - 10/25/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Linus Sebastian
Program length: 1:30:18
Podcast topics of discussion:
- 0:00:50 Welcome our Guest: Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips!
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:36:20 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
- News items of interest:
- 1:06:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
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.
Subject: Processors | October 2, 2012 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, bulldozer, amd, a8, a6, A4, a10, 5800K, 5600K
The NDA is over and we can finally tell you all about the new generation of Trinity, especially the compute portion which we were not allowed to discuss in the controversial preview. Part of the good news is the price, Legit Reviews found the highest MSRP is $122 for the A10-5800K and it is currently available, though at $130. The performance increase from the previous generation is decent for multicore applications though not so much for single threaded applications, overall you can expect general computing performance in line with Core i3 but not Core i5. Gaming on the other hand did show much improvement, especially with you compare the built in HD7660D to Intel's current HD4000 and HD3500. You can catch Josh's review right here.
"The internal testing from AMD that we can see above shows a 37% increase in the 3DMark 11 score between the first generation A-Series Llano and this generation of A-Series Trinity. While our numbers don't match their numbers exactly, our Llano system scored 1115 3Dmarks while the AMD internal testing showed 1150 3DMarks. Our AMD A10-5800K scored 1521 3DMarks while they scored 1570. The overall difference was remarkably similar, AMD is boasting an increase of 37% and we saw a difference of 36.4%..."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD’s Trinity Faces Off With Intel’s Ivy Bridge @ SemiAccurate
- AMD “Virgo” Platform: 2nd Generation APU @ Bjorn3D
- AMD A10-5800K APU Performance Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD A10-5800K and A8-5600K APUs for Socket FM2 @ techPowerUp
- AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU Review @ TechwareLabs
- Asus F2A85-V Pro & AMD A10 5800K (w/ HD7660D) @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K & A8-5600K Review: Trinity on the Desktop, Part 2 @ AnandTech
- AMD A10 5800K APU processor review and MSI FM-2 A85XA-G65 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD A10-5800K Unlocked "Trinity" Quad Core APU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD A8-3850 CPU review @ Rbmods
- Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4 & AMD A10 5800K @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K / A8-5600K full review: Trinity for desktops @ Hardware.info
- AMD Trinity for Desktops. Part 1: Graphics Core @ X-bit Labs
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- All Core i3 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel Core i3 3225 and 3220 review: entry-level Ivy Bridge @ Hardware.info
Trinity Finally Comes to the Desktop
Trinity. Where to start? I find myself asking that question, as the road to this release is somewhat tortuous. Trinity, as a product code name, came around in early 2011. The first working silicon was shown that Summer. The first actual release of product was the mobile part in late Spring of this year. Throughout the summer notebook designs based on Trinity started to trickle out. Today we cover the release of the desktop versions of this product.
AMD has certainly had its ups and downs when it comes to APU releases. Their first real APU was Zacate, based on the new Bobcat CPU architecture. This product was an unmitigated success for AMD. Llano, on the other hand, had a pretty rocky start. Production and various supply issues caused it to be far less of a success than hoped. These issues were oddly enough not cleared up until late Spring of this year. By then mobile Trinity was out and people were looking towards the desktop version of the chip. AMD saw the situation, and the massive supply of Llano chips that it had, and decided to delay introduction of desktop Trinity until a later date.
To say that expectations for Trinity are high is an understatement. AMD has been on the ropes for quite a few years in terms of CPU performance. While the Phenom II series were at least competitive with the Core 2 Duo and Quad chips, they did not match up well against the latest i7/i5/i3 series of parts. Bulldozer was supposed to erase the processor advantage Intel had, but it came out of the oven as a seemingly half baked part. Piledriver was designed to succeed Bulldozer, and is supposed to shore up the architecture to make it more competitive. Piledriver is the basis of Trinity. Piledriver does sport significant improvements in clockspeed, power consumption, and IPC (instructions per clock). People are hopeful that Trinity would be able to match the performance of current Ivy Bridge processors from Intel, or at least get close.
So does it match Intel? In ways, I suppose. How much better is it than Bulldozer? That particular answer is actually a bit surprising. Is it really that much of a step above Llano? Yet another somewhat surprising answer for that particular question. Make no mistake, Trinity for desktop is a major launch for AMD, and their continued existence as a CPU manufacturer depends heavily on this part.
Subject: Processors | September 29, 2012 - 10:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vishera, piledriver, amd, am3+
Trinity APUs are not the only Piledriver-based processors that AMD will be releasing this year. Trinity is coming next month, but later this year AMD should be putting out Vishera processors based on Piledriver CPUs cores – and without integrated GPUs. And now, thanks to a retailer leaking details on its website, we now know some basic specifications – and more importantly – pricing.
For the uninitiated, Vishera is AMD’s next generation processor. It will use the existing AM3+ socket, and is built on a 32nm HKMG manufacturing process. Further, the CPUs are based on the Piledriver architecture which features a number of efficiency improvements over Bulldozer. Thanks to the architecture tweaks, and Cyclos Semiconductor’s resonant clock mesh technology that reduces the amount of power needed to keep the clock frequency synced across the entire chip. The architecture tweaks result in improved instructions per clock (IPC), improved floating point performance, leakage reduction, AMD Turbo Core 3, and new FMA3, AVX, AVS1.1, AES, and F16C instructions among other improvements.
For more information on the Piledriver architecture, and where AMD is taking it with Vishera, read the “AMD: Vishera and Beyond” editorial we recently posted. Also relevant is our mobile Trinity (A10-4600M) review which gives some small hints at the kind of CPU improvements we can expect with desktop Piledriver CPU cores versus the previous generation.
According to eTeknix, the recently leaked information from Bottom Line Telecomunications includes clock speed, core count, amount of cache, TDP and pricing for four of AMD's upcoming FX series Vishera processors: the FX 4300, FX 6300, FX 8320, and FX 8350. The FX 4300 is a quad core processor clocked at 3.8GHz with 8MB of cache and a 95W TDP (thermal design power). It was priced at $131.62 on the company's website. The FX 6300 CPU brings the core count up to six, and increases the cache to 14MB. It keeps the same 95W TDP as the FX 4300 but is clocked at 3.5GHz and costs $175.77.
The FX 8320 and FX 8350 are both eight core processors and have a 125W TDP. The FX 8320 is a $242.05 part with 16MB cache and comes clocked at 3.5GHz. The FX 8350 keeps the same 16MB cache but is clocked at 4GHz and, as a result, costs more at $253.06.
The FX 8320 in particular appears to be a neat processor, and will likely be the more popular of the two FX 8000 series as enthusiasts will overclock it match (or exceed) the FX 8350 while paying the cheaper price (since the only thing you are really giving up with the lower-end part is clockspeed, and not cache)!
It will be interesting to see if the Piledriver-based chips are worth the price though, since we have yet to see independant CPU performance benchmarks for either Vishera or Trinity. The following table is the leaked information from shopBLT mentioned above in table form.
|shopBLT Item #||Manufacturer Part #||Description||Price|
|BPW4489||FD4300WMHKBOX||FX 4300 QC CPU AM3+ 8MB 95W 3.8GHz Box||$131.62|
|BPW4488||FD6300WMHKBOX||FX 6300 6C CPU AM3+ 14MB 95W 3.5GHz Box||$175.77|
|BPW4487||FD8320FRHKBOX||FX 8320 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 3.5GHz box||$242.05|
|BPW4486||FD8350FRHKBOX||FX 8350 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 4GHz Box||$253.06|
Speaking of pricing, AMD will not only be competing with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, but its latest Ivy Bridge chips as well, so pricing will be key to AMD selling its CPUs. In the following chart, we compared AMD's upcoming Vishera processors (based on the leaked information above) to Intel's latest Ivy Bridge parts. Because we do not know what the performancer of Piledriver will be, we matched up the Bulldozer CPUs to the Intel competition based on pricing. Essentially, we attempted to find the the Ivy Bridge CPU with the closest price tag to the Vishera processors' price. Intel's 22nm process has definitely given the company a leg up on TDPs, but you do get as many as twice the cores (and cache) with AMD for the price. The FX 8350 is an odd part in that it does not have a good Ivy Bridge equivalent, because there is no approximately $250 Ivy Bridge CPU. The next-closest CPU is the Core i7-3770 at just-over $300. Note that it may end up being that a lower priced chip will actually perform equivalently (or outperform) to the FX 8350 – we just do not know at this point and the only basis for matching these up for sake of comparison is price right now.
|Processor Model||FX 4300||FX 6300||FX 8320||FX 8350||Core i3 3220||Core i5 3550P||Core i5-3570K||Core i7 3770|
|No. of cores (HT)||4||6||8||8||2 (4)||4||4||4 (8)|
|Clockspeed (turbo)||3.8GHz||3.5GHz||3.5GHz||4GHz||3.3GHz||3.1GHz (3.5)||3.4GHz (3.8)||3.4GHz (3.9)|
The Intel processors were chosen base on pricing and not performance per-se. Note that the i5-3550P does not include integrated graphics.
Another interesting match up is the comparison between AMD's next generation Vishera processors and its current generation Zambezi Bulldozer CPUs.
The FX 4300 cache number seems like the only oddity, but is based on leaked information above.
Assuming that the leaked pricing ends up being accurate, AMD has put itself in an odd position with Vishera. Across the board, the Piledriver-based chips are notably more expensive than the Bulldozer predecessors. The next generation chips are offering up higher clockspeeds – and in some cases – lower TDPs. On the other hand, they are coming in at a premium, and AMD is already facing stiff competition from Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.
AMD will really have to bring the promised performance improvements in order to move its Vishera chips at these prices. Performance is key, and unfortunately that's one aspect of Piledriver that we don't yet know beyond AMD's claims. Personally, I'm hopeful that they will deliver on the claimed efficiency tweaks and that Vishera will be a success. At the very least, it should offer a nice upgrade for owners of AM3+ motherboards.
After the Trinity launch, we should have more information on the the level of CPU performance we can expect from Piledriver. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more information on Vishera and the Piledriver architecture in general as it comes in!
Read more about AMD's Piledriver microarchitecture.
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, hot chips, bulldozer, amd, Abu Dhabi
You've seen the slides everywhere and read through what Josh could observe and predict from those slides but at the end of Hot Chips will still know little more about the core everyone is waiting for. The slides show a core little changed from Bulldozer, which is exactly what we've been expecting as AMD has always described Steamroller as a refined Bulldozer design, improving the existing architecture as opposed to a complete redesign. SemiAccurate did pull out one little gem which might mean good news for both AMD and consumers which pertains to the high density libraries slide. The 30% decrease in size and power consumption seems to have been implemented by simply using the high density libraries that AMD uses for GPUs. As this library already exists, AMD didn't need to spend money to develop it, they essentially managed this 30% improvement with a button press, as SemiAccurate put it. This could well mean that Steamroller will either come out at a comparatively low price or will give AMD higher profit margins ... or a mix of both.
"With that in mind, the HDL slide was rather interesting. AMD is claiming that if you rebuild Bulldozer with an HDL library, the resulting chip has a 30% decrease in size and power use. To AMD at least, this is worth a full shrink, but we only buy that claim if it is 30% smaller and 30% less power hungry, not 30% in aggregate. That said, it is a massive gain with just a button press.
AMD should be applauded, or it would have been, but during the keynote, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Why didn’t they do this 5 years ago?”. If you can get 30% from changing out a library to the ones you build your GPUs with, didn’t someone test this out before you decided on layout tools?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The best and worst of IFA 2012 @ The Inquirer
- US energy lab's pump-happy petaflopper goes green @ The Register
- Quantum Teleportation Sends Information 143 Kilometers @ Slashdot
- Finger-free Kinect coming to fondlesome Windows 8 @ The Register
- VIA suffers close to 15% on-month drop in August revenues @ DigiTimes
- Micron expresses interest in partnering with TSMC @ DigiTimes
- An Argument Against Expensive Solid State Drives @ Benchmark Reviews
- Interview: 2Dawn Games on its upcoming shooter 'Ravaged' and life as an indie studio @ TechSpot