Subject: Processors | October 12, 2011 - 12:44 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD FX-8150 Processor Review - Bulldozer Arrives @ Legit Review
- AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer CPU Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD FX-8150 Black Edition Processor Launch Review vs Intel Core i7-2600K @ HardwareHeave
- AMD FX-8150, FX-8120, FX-6100 and FX-4170 @ Legion Hardware
- AMD FX-8150 - Bulldozer @ Overclockers.com
- AMD FX-8150 CPU Review: Can Bulldozer Raze The Playing Field? @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD Bulldozer FX-8150 Processor Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD FX-8150, FX Series Reviewed - Bulldozer makes debut @ Techspot
- AMD FX 8150 Black Edition @ kitguru
- AMD's FX-8150 "Zambezi" CPU @ LostCircuits
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 7, 2011 - 06:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zambezi, gpu, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 9 core
It is less than a week before Bulldozer’s official launch (October 12th), and it would seem that a Ukrainian retailer was not able to wait as it leaked AMD’s FX-8120 Bulldozer processor in a price list. The 32nm chip is stated to have eight cores running at 3.1 GHz, 8 MB L2 cache, and 8MB of L3 cache. Further, the core stepping is said to be B2 and is comprised of Zambezi processing cores. The FX-8120 has a 95W TDP and is compatible with motherboards from the AM3+ series and newer.
The processor is listed as model number FD8120FRGUBOX, and carries a price of $221 USD or 1,791 UAH. The website is currently listing October 10th; however, it is not clear if customers will be able to purchase the processor that day by the pricing page alone. If the leaked benchmarks turn out to be close to the truth, would you consider the FX-8120 a good value?
RAGE is not as dependant on your graphics hardware as it is on your CPU and storage system (which may be an industry first); the reason for which we will discover when talking about the texture pop-up issue on the next page.
The first id Software designed game since the release of Doom 3 in August of 2004, RAGE has a lot riding on it. Not only is this the introduction of the idTech 5 game engine but also culminates more than 4 years of development and the first new IP from the developer since the creation of Quake. And since the first discussions and demonstrations of Carmack's new MegaTexture technology, gamers have been expecting a lot as well.
Would this game be impressive enough on the visuals to warrant all the delays we have seen? Would it push today's GPUs in a way that few games are capable of? It looks like we have answers to both of those questions and you might be a bit disappointed.
First, let's get to the heart of the performance question: will your hardware play RAGE? Chances are, very much so. I ran through some tests of RAGE on a variety of hardware including the GeForce GTX 580, 560 Ti, 460 1GB and the Radeon HD 6970, HD 6950, HD 6870 and HD 5850. The test bed included an Intel Core i7-965 Nehalem CPU, 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory running off of a 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive. Here are the results from our performance tests running at 1920x1080 resolution with 4x AA enabled in the game options:
If you have been visiting PC Perspective at all over the last week there is no doubt you have seen a lot of discussion about the currently running Battlefield 3 beta. We posted an article looking at performance of several different GPUs in the game and then followed it up with a look at older cards like the GeForce 9800 GT. We did a live stream of some PC Perspective staff playing BF3 with readers and fans, showed off and tested the locked Caspian Border map and even looked at multi-GPU scaling performance. It was a lot of testing and a lot of time, but now that we have completed it, we are ready to summarize our findings in a piece that many have been clamoring for - a Battlefield 3 system build guide.
The purpose of this article is simple: gather our many hours or testing and research and present the results in a way that simply says "here is the hardware we recommend." It is a the exact same philosophy that makes our PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard so successful as it gives the reader all the information they need, all in one place.
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 22, 2011 - 02:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, tick, 22nm, tri-gate
Over at AnandTech you can read about the first processor to be designed using Intel's new Tri-Gate transistors, Ivy Bridge. As well this new take on Sandy Bridge will natively support USB 3.0 thanks to the improved Z77, Z75 and H77 chipsets. There will also be Q77, Q75 and B75 to make sure you get a more alphabet soup to deal with. The new GPU inside is something Intel is rather proud of, a claimed 33% improvement is impressive and signals that Intel really is taking the iGPU portion of their chips seriously. That focus is confirmed if you read through the minimal improvements to the CPU side, not a bad thing at all, simply confirmation that Intel is concerned more with power efficiency and graphics performance instead of just pumping up the megahertz.
"Five years ago Intel announced its ambitious tick-tock release cadence. We were doubtful that Intel could pull off such an aggressive schedule but with the exception of missing a few months here or there tick-tock has been a success. On years marked by a tick Intel introduces a new manufacturing process, while tock years keep manufacturing process the same and introduce a new microprocessor architecture. To date we've had three tocks (Conroe, Nehalem, Sandy Bridge) and two ticks (Penryn, Westmere). Sampling by the end of this year and shipping in the first half of next year will be Intel's third tick: Ivy Bridge."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i5 2400S @ Phoronix
- All Core i7 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- All Core i5 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- All Core i3 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Interactive AMD Phenom product ID guide @ OC Inside
Subject: Processors | September 22, 2011 - 11:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandy bridge, Intel, core i7, 2700K, 2600K
Intel’s 2600K processor has sat at the top of the company’s lineup for almost a year now. As the company has had time to work out production issues and streamline the binning on their silicon, the Core i7 2700K that was revealed recently through a materials declaration data sheet (MDDS) would be identical to the 2600K except for a 100MHz bump in clock speed. Launching in October 2011, the new processors are said to be great overclockers due to Intel cherry picking the silicon used in the 2700K.
Interestingly, the 2700K may not replace the current Core i7 2600K processor in the lineup. According to a source by VR-Zone, the 2700K will debut at a higher price point than the 2600K which suggests that Intel has no plans to phase out the processor. Specifically, the new 2700K will not result in cheaper 2600K parts as it debuts at the current list price (for the 2600K) of $317 USD. Rather, VR-Zone suspects that the new Sandy Bridge CPU will launch at a higher price point in the range of $340 to $350 USD.
What are your thoughts on the new Core i7 2700K? Do you think Intel will keep both the 2600K and 2700K around, and (more importantly) will the 2700K be worth the extra money as a pseudo cherry picked 2600K with a 100MHz higher stock clock? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Kal-El Tegra SoC to use 5 cores
Recent news from NVIDIA has unveiled some interesting new technical details about the upcoming Kal-El ARM-based Tegra SoC. While we have known for some time that this chip would include a quad-core processor and would likely be the first ARM-based quad-core part on the market, NVIDIA's Matt Wuebbling spilled the beans on a new technology called "Variable SMP" (vSMP) and a fifth core on the die.
An updated diagram shows the fifth "companion" core - Courtesy NVIDIA
This patented technology allows the upcoming Tegra processor to address a couple of key issues that affect smartphones and tablets: standby power consumption and manufacturing process deviations. Even though all five of the cores on Kal-El are going to be based on the ARM Cortex A9 design they will have very different power characteristics due to variations in the TSMC 40nm process technology that builds them. Typical of most foundries and process technologies, TSMC has both a "high performance" and a "low power" derivative of the 40nm technology usually aimed at different projects. The higher performing variation will run at faster clock speeds but will also have more transistor leakages thus increasing overall power consumption. The low power option does just the opposite: lowers the frequency ceiling while using less power at idle and usage states.
CPU power and performance curves - Courtesy NVIDIA
NVIDIA's answer to this dilemma is to have both - a single A9 core built on the low power transistors and quad A9s built on the higher performing transistors. The result is the diagram you saw at the top of this story with a quad-core SoC with a single ARM-based "companion." NVIDIA is calling this strategy Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing and using some integrated hardware tricks it is able to switch between operating on the lower power core OR one to four of the higher power cores. The low power process will support operating frequencies up to only 500 MHz while the high speed process transistors will be able to hit well above 1-1.2 GHz.