Today is a huge day in terms of significance for AMD, who just moments ago launched the first major redesign of their processor architecture since 2003. AMD has not been able to keep the new architecture much of a secret as the new ‘Bulldozer’ core architecture is widely known amongst enthusiasts and gamers. Another reason that so many people know about Bulldozer-based CPUs is because AMD already announced Valencia and Interlagos processors for the server market. Today is significant in the sense that AMD is launching the first new Bulldozer-based desktop CPUs that are codenamed Zambezi and feature up to eight cores.
Bulldozer will be the first major redesign of AMD’s processor architecture since 2003, when AMD launched its Athlon 64/Opteron (K8) processors. Bulldozer features two 128-bit FMA-capable FPUs that can be combined into one 256-bit FPU. This design is accompanied by two integer cores each with 4 pipelines (the fetch/decode stage is shared). Bulldozer will also introduce shared L2 cache in the new architecture. A 16-core processor design would feature eight of these modules, but the operating system will recognize each module as two physical cores. The module, described as two cores, can be contrasted with a single Intel core with HyperThreading. The difference between the two approaches is that Bulldozer provides dedicated schedulers and integer units for each thread, whereas in Intel’s core all threads must compete for available
The Bulldozer die is built by GlobalFoundaries using the 32nm DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology process and measures in at ~315mm2 in size with a transistor count of ~2 billion.
The AMD Bulldozer lineup consists of seven high-end consumer desktop processors that are clearly aimed at performance minded individuals. This is made evident by the fact that the AMD FX CPU series does not feature an integrated GPU (unlike Llano and Ontario/Zacate), so you’ll have to use discrete graphics with one of these processors. The entire AMD FX CPU series is designed for use with socket AM3+ motherboards, so they will work best with 990FX, 990X and 970X chipsets by AMD. Older AM3 motherboards will also support the Zambezi FX processors after a BIOS update. AMD’s new FX processor family consists of the following models: FX-4100, FX-B4150, the FX-4170, FX-6100, FX-8100, FX-8120 and FX-8150 The nomenclature of the AMD FX CPU series is fairly easy to remember. It is broken down into FX-81XX, FX-61XX and FX-41XX model groups, with the first number being the number of cores that the processor has. The second number is a ‘1’ on all of the processors and that stands for single CPU socket configurations and then the final two numbers are to show how fast the processor clock speed is.
AMD isn’t launching the entire Bulldozer FX processor lineup today though as just four are being released. The first four FX CPU models that will be available are the 8-core FX-8150 and 8120, 6-core FX-6100 and the 4-core FX-4100. Pricing on these processors is fairly reasonable with prices starting at $115 for the FX-4100 and topping out at $245 for the FX-8150.
Although the AMD FX series of unlocked processors brings back the FX branding from a era when AMD was able to compete with any of Intel’s processors that is not true for this generation. The flagship processor from this series is designed to compete with the Intel Core i5-2500K and the Core i7-2600K. AMD isn’t going after the super high-end LGA1366 platforms here, which obviously means that when the Intel LGA2011 platform comes out with Sandy Bridge-E processors next month that Intel will once again dominate that market segment. That said, the AMD FX-8150 does stack up well on paper compared to the Intel Core i5/i7 series for the LGA1155 platform.
AMD sent us this image of how their entire desktop processor lineup compares to what Intel is offering. The Intel LGA1366 platform is missing here as we’d expect to see the Intel Core i7-990X at the very top of the Intel processors.
AMD has for years been marketing themselves as being a cost effective platform for consumers. Nothing has changed there as AMD still claims they offer equal, if not better gaming performance, on the FX-8150 when compared to the Intel Core i7-980X. Those readers that know how to overclock might laugh at a slide like this as you can buy an Intel Core i7-950 processor for $199 and overclock it and the platforms would be at the same cost.
The processor that AMD sent to Legit Reviews for testing is the FX-8150. This processor is priced at $245 and AMD said that it was priced to compete against the Intel Core i5-2500K. We feel this is a stretch as the Intel Core i5-2500K can be found for under $220 on PriceGrabber.com or $179.99 in-store at Micro Center. The Intel Core i7-2600K is priced at under $315 on PriceGrabber.com or $249.99 in-store at Micro Center. We’ll let you determine which processors line up to what!
Let’s take a closer look at the new Bulldozer architecture and then get to benchmarking!