AMD Bulldozer - FX 8150 Performance Review



Product: AMD FX 8150 / Asus Crosshair V
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: October 11th, 2011

Introduction

The AMD FX series of processors are here. This is the first product line from AMD to use the new Bulldozer architecture, which you may remember from our Hot Chips coverage back in August 2010, when both Bulldozer and Bobcat were previewed to the world. The Bulldozer architecture is the basis for the Orochi die, which is an eight-core processor packaged for both server and high-end desktops. The codename for the desktop variant is Zambezi, and for the first time the product name is simpler than the codename - the FX series.

AMD FX 8-series Processor

The FX name harks back to the glorious age of the Athlon64, when the AMD64 architecture stole the limelight from Intel and became the reference point for performance in both server and desktop machines. FX branded A64s had unlocked multipliers for easier overclocking and commanded premium prices, going out with a bang in dual-socket format to offer two quad-cores on an enthusiast consumer platform known as 4x4 or 'FASN8'.

However, that was a long time ago and naming the hotly awaited new processor after that halcyon time is either hubris or big, brass balls. AMD has been much, much more aggressive since their acquisition and merger of ATI, and the decisions made several years ago are now starting to see the light of day. The Bulldozer we see now isn't the design that was originally intended for release, as it was determined sometime previously (around 2009) that a new approach was needed and back to drawing board went AMD. Now they've got a new modular design - obviously intended to be flexible, a building block for future processors, be they central processing unit or accelerated processing unit products.

AMD FX 8-series Processor

The improvements will come quicker than we saw with the STARS architecture, as seen in AMD's Phenom and Phenom II family of processors, with approximately yearly updates offering 10-15% per core increases in performance. This year's Bulldozer will be followed by Piledriver, then Steamroller, and then Excavator. It all sounds suitably butch and macho for the take-no-prisoners, take-no-shit product that it's intended to be - sell processors, gain marketshare, profit.

The Scorpius platform uses AMD 9-series chipsets and features a new CPU socket: AM3+. The socket, as the name implies, is backwards compatible with current AM3 processors. The upgrade to the socket was largely electrical, and AMD doesn't support using Bulldozer processors in AM3 socket mainboards, though some manufacturer's claim that with the requisite BIOS you can indeed use the new CPU on select older motherboards. Note also that some 8-series chipsets are listed as supporting AM3+; be sure to check your manufacturers support page carefully and read the AMD FX readiness blog.

AMD FX 8-series Processor

We begin our journey into the brave new Bulldozer-based world with a look at the architecture itself.