AMD Updates the FX Line: Some Thoughts on Future Moves for AMD

Subject: Processors | February 28, 2012 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: trinity, FX-8120, FX-6200, FX-4170, FX, FM3, bulldozer, amd, am3+

Since AMD held their Analysts’ Day, we have not heard a whole bunch from their CPU division.  The graphics side has been in full gear launching the HD 7000 series of products, and soon we will see the final pieces of that particular puzzle fall into place.  What about the CPU group?  We have heard about Trinity for ages now, but that particular launch is still months away.  The last CPU update detailed the “K” series of unlocked Llano chips.  What about Bulldozer?  Is there a new stepping?  How is GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 32 nm SOI/HKMG progressing?


I don’t have all those answers, unfortunately.  Since AMD proceeded to sack most of the PR team, our contacts have all but disappeared.  Questions emailed to AMD are often not returned.  Requests for CPU information (or samples) are ignored.  Are these people just simply overworked, or is AMD clamping down on information?  Hard to say.  My guess here is that they are taking the philosophy of, “No news is good news.”  If a company does not send out review samples, they do not have to deal with products receiving bad reviews.  I am not saying that the FX processors are necessarily bad, but they do not match up well against Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge parts.  At least AMD parts are priced appropriately overall for their level of performance.  If we look at overall results, the FX-8150 does match up fairly well with the i5-2500K, and they both exist very close to each other in price points.

What we do know is that AMD has released two new processors into the market with the FX-4170 and the FX-6200.  The FX-4170 is a new dual module (four core) 125 watt TDP part that is clocked at an amazing 4.2 GHz stock speed, and a turbo that goes to 4.3 GHz.  This is the fastest consumer grade processor in terms of clockspeed, but it obviously is not the fastest processor on Earth.  The original FX-4100 is a 95 watt TDP part at 3.6 GHz stock/3.8 GHz turbo, 4 MB L2 cache, and 8 MB of L3.  The FX-6200 is perhaps the more interesting of the two.  It has a base clock of 3.8 GHz and a max turbo speed of 4.1 GHz.  This is a pretty hefty increase from the FX-6100 with its base 3.3 GHz and 3.9 GHz turbo.  The 6100 is a 95 watt TDP part while the new 6200 is 125 watt TDP.  The 6200 is a three module (six core) part with 6 MB of L2 cache and 8 MB of L3.

The last bit of news is that the FX-8120 is getting a price cut to put it more in line against the competition.  The email that we received about this and the previous announcements was amazingly generic and fairly uninformative.  We do not know the prices, we do not know the rollout schedule, and we have no idea how much the FX-8120 is going to be chopped.  We have seen the retail market already cut the prices down on the FX-8xxx series.  The high end FX-8150 was introduced around $289 but now it can be readily available for $259.  Now that demand has dropped in the PC sector and AMD’s supply has caught up, it is no wonder we are seeing new SKUs and the lowering of prices.


My goal is to try to get a hold of some of these parts, as they do look interesting from a value standpoint.  The FX-6200 is of great interest for many users due to the nice provisioning of cores, L3 caches, and speeds.  Throw in a decent price for this particular product, and it could be a favorite for budget enthusiasts who want to stick with AMD products.  The area where it does fall down is that of TDP when compared to Intel’s Sandy Bridge parts at that price point.  The jump to 3.8 GHz base speed and 4.1 GHz turbo should make it very comparable in stock clocked performance to anything Intel has in that price range.

Overclocking could be interesting here, but since it is already a 125 watt TDP part I do not know how much headroom these products have.  4.8 GHz is very likely, but on air cooling I would not expect overclocked speeds to reach much more above that.  Still, these are interesting parts and give plenty of bang for their price.  Add in pretty mature support for AM3+ motherboards, and AMD still has a chance with enthusiasts.  The only real issue that is looming is PCI-E 3.0 support for the AM3+ ecosystem.  We have not heard anything about the upcoming (or is it cancelled?) 1090FX chipset, other than it is based on 890FX/990FX and should not support PCI-E 3.0.  With AMD’s push for APUs, I would expect the upcoming Trinity parts to introduce PCI-E 3.0.  AMD also looks like they will start funneling the enthusiasts towards FM2 platforms and Trinity based parts.  While AMD looks to support AM3+ with Piledriver based cores, my best guess here is that AM3+ will be phased out sooner rather than later.

The next 6 months will be critical for AMD and their path moving forwards.  At the very least we will have a better idea of where the company is going under the new management.  I am still expecting some big changes from AMD, and if Trinity can give Intel a run for its money in terms of per clock CPU performance, then they could have a winner on their hands and adjust their roadmap to further exploit that particular product release.

Source: AMD

Can you effectively patch up a Bulldozer?

Subject: Processors | February 17, 2012 - 06:52 PM |
Tagged: fx-8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 990fx

AMD's $270 flagship processor, the 3.6GHz FX-8150 had a mixed reception as the hype which lead up to the release built up our expectations to a point that the processor could not live up to.  Part of the disappointment has been blamed on the Windows 7 thread scheduler, which AMD described as not being optimized for their architecture, which lead to the release of hotfix files KB2645594 and KB2646060.  TechPowerUp revisited their benchmarks to see if these patches effectively increase the performance of multi-threaded tasks; single threaded tasks are dependant on processor speed so they should be unaffected by the patches.

dozer patch.jpg

"After settling on the market, with all the quirks and bugs supposedly fixed, all the hype and disappointment blown away, we put AMD's FX-8150 under the scope. Benchmarks are done with and without the Windows 7 hotfix and in depth overclocking should resolve any doubts you have about AMD's flagship processor."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Putting Bulldozer to the proper use; how well does it serve?

Subject: Systems | February 1, 2012 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, interlagos, bulldozer, supermicro, opteron 6200

Over at The Inquirer you can take a look at the performance of the Opteron 6274 as a server chip, as opposed to the desktop benchmarks that have made up the bulk of Bulldozer reviews on the web.  SuperMicro has assembled a server containing a dual-socket Opteron 6274 for a total of 32 cores and 64GB of ECC DDR3-1333 RAM across eight channels running on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.  While the machine was quite powerful it still has difficulty keeping up with Intel, for instance its performance on CineBench was about the same as provided by an X5680 Westmere Xeon which is not Intel's best silicon. On the plus side, the scaling for multithreaded applications was quite good.


"IS BULLDOZER better in a workstation than a desktop? Let's see if it can be.

AMD's Bulldozer chip, while eagerly awaited, didn't really have a stellar debut as a mainstream - or high end, for that matter - desktop processor, still having a way to go before seriously challenging the incumbent Intel. The core, cache and memory performance all need a bit more power, although recent news such as Microsoft Windows' kernel patches do seem to help a little bit towards extracting more oomph from the unusual 'two integer units sharing one floating-point' approach."

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Source: The Inquirer

A 71 CPU 2011 round up (the year, not the socket)

Subject: Processors | January 30, 2012 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, sandybridge, llano, bulldozer, Sandy Bridge E

If you are looking for a quick way to contrast the processors that were released this year then iXBT Labs has a review for you.  They've added their CPU/APU reviews for the past year together and compiled some rather lengthy charts which reflect the comparative performance of a few older chips as well as the majority of chips released this year.  Both Intel and AMD desktop and server chips are included, mobile users will need to look elsewhere to compare chips designed specifically for laptops.  Their benchmarks range from 3D modelling to 3D gaming as well as compression, office suites and raster graphics processing so no matter what purpose you will be putting these chips to you should be able to get an idea what chips to be on the look out for.


Told you it was big, visit iXBT Labs if you want the readable version.

"The year 2011 has ended, so it's high time to sum up the results and see the general picture. If you're looking to upgrade, we hope this will make choosing a processor easier."

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Source: iXBT Labs
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

Q4-2012 In a Nutshell

Tis the reporting season.  Yes, that time of year when some of the major players in the computing world get together and tell us all how well they did this past quarter.  Ok, so they do not necessarily get together to announce results, but they sure time them that way.  Today was AMD’s turn (and Apple’s), and the results were not nearly as positive as what Intel had to offer a few days ago.


Q4 2011 was flat in terms of revenue as compared to Q3.  The company had gross revenue of $1.69 billion and had a net income loss of $177 million.  That net income is not necessarily a bad result, but more on that later.  Margins rose to 46%, which is still a far cry from Intel’s 65% for the past quarter.  Gross revenue was up 2% from last year, which considering the marketplace and Intel’s dominance, is a solid win for AMD.

When we start talking about non-GAAP results, AMD had a net income of $138 million.  The difference between those two numbers (a loss vs. a nice profit) is that the loss came from one time writeoffs.  AMD has lowered its stake in GLOBALFOUNDRIES to 8.8%, and in so doing incurred a hefty charge.  This is not so much money lost as it is lost value in the company.

Click to read the rest of this article here.

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

Microsoft Releases Update to Improve Bulldozer... I thought?

Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 05:41 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

Intel was far from demolished when AMD's Bulldozer came to town. Users still clung to hope that Microsoft's Windows 7 was not optimized to take advantage of Bulldozer's multi-core environment. Vindication came sweetly with a knowledge base article and a patch from Microsoft confirming the issue and offering a solution. While they can still feel comfortable knowing they were right, the solution has been pulled from Microsoft's website without any announced reason. Who should we feel sorry for: those who didn't download it yet, or those who did?

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

This picture is more meme-worthy than we realized...
99 hotfix and ah this ain't one? If you're having kernel problems I feel bad for you son.


To be entirely fair, Microsoft's knowledge base article was quite clear in its instruction to users regarding this hotfix.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

Still, AMD users have another reason to be upset as if they needed one. The hotfix will come, and will come in completely stable form; it just looks like today is not that day. If you already received this update and have experienced technical difficulties, the comment form awaits.

Source: VR-Zone

Microsoft Releases Update To Improve Bulldozer Performance

Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 06:56 AM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

When AMD’s Bulldozer processors arrived, they were unable to best Intel’s fastest at most tasks. A number of users held out hope for Bulldozer; however, as it was discovered that Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was not optimized to take advantage of the multi-threaded execution scheduling engine. While MS has implemented this optimization in the Windows 8 kernel, the current stable release has been without a fix until recently. The fix in question is available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and can be downloaded here. It should be noted that service pack 1 is a pre-requisite to this hot-fix.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

Conservatively, previous indications suggested such a fix would add a 5 % to 10 % performance boost in multi-threaded applications. That number is based on the estimates from around the web from people comparing benchmarks between Windows 7 and Windows 8 Developer Preview. If you are running a Bulldozer processor in your machine, be sure to apply this update and let us know how performance improves.

Source: Microsoft

GSkill Heard You Like Memory…

Subject: Memory | December 6, 2011 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: x79, SB-E, Sandy Bridge E, Intel, gskill, DDR-3 2400, DDR-3, bulldozer, amd, am3+, 64 GB

So they are giving us as much, and as fast, as we could possibly handle.  GSkill has announced their latest Ripjaw-Z kits specifically aimed at the latest Intel Socket 2011 chips on the X79 platform.  These kits range from 4 x 8GB @ 2100 speeds with 1.5 v up to 8 x 8GB at 2400 speeds at 1.65 v.  For those wishing to push clock speeds up higher, they offer a 4 x 4GB kit at 2500 speeds at 1.65v as well.


Red is the new black.  This is what 32 GB of memory looks like now.

The past few months I have been using a few sets of GSkill memory with the latest Llano based chips from AMD.  These are 4 x 4 GB 1866 products that run at 1.5v, and they have been pretty phenomenal for me.  Now that we are moving into new CPU architectures from both manufacturers, memory speeds have become important again.  For quite some time people could easily get by with DDR-3 1333 modules and not experience any kind of performance bottleneck.  The reasons for this were due to CPU designs (quad core CPUs rarely required more than 12 GB/sec of bandwidth in most applications) as well as the non-integrated nature of graphics for the most part.

Read the full post here.

Source: GSkill

Running Cool 'n' Quiet under Linux with AMD

Subject: Processors | November 23, 2011 - 06:47 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cool 'n' quiet, Turbo Core, linux, fx-8150

AMD's Cool'n'Quiet feature, which lowers your CPU core frequencies when they are not under heavy usage has been around for a while, but Phoronix though it was time to revisit the Linux support for this feature and Turbo Core as we have a brand new architecture to test.  They fired up the FX-8150 again, running under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.1 kernel and started benchmarking.  Their results show that AMD's power saving features are still working well under Linux, better when using single threaded applications than with multi-threaded but still worth enabling for those who want lower heat production and energy consumption.  It is hard to say how much you will save on power though, as the software Phoronix used to measure, fam15h_power, never budged from the 125W mark even when the system was pulling less power from the wall.


"For those wondering about the impact that AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet and Turbo Core technologies have under Linux for the latest-generation Bulldozer processors, here are some tests illustrating the changes in performance, power consumption, and operating temperature."

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Source: Phoronix