AMD Bulldozer FX-8150 Processor Review

Author: MAC
Date: October 11, 2011
Product Name: AMD FX-8150
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After countless years of gossip, presentations, leaks, and showcases AMD's new Bulldozer processors are finally here. This is AMD's attempt at making an architecture with significant multi-threaded performance but at a price which most people can afford.

Many believe that AMD’s last “great” architecture arrived back in the Socket 754 / 939 days when the Athlon 64 processors found themselves competing against and in many ways beating the Pentium 4 black and blue. In those days names like Clawhammer, Sledgehammer, Newcastle and San Diego came to the forefront but somehow their successors never again competed on a level footing against Intel’s flagship processors. AMD needed to get back into the game and their Bulldozer architecture promised exactly that but it didn’t come easy. There were several delays and transitioning to the 32nm manufacturing process seemed to have been particularly hard for AMD’s manufacturing partner. Nonetheless, here we stand with a new architecture primed and finally ready to go.

Bulldozer is actually a broad name for an architecture that will be with us for a long, long time and should eventually encompass several different product categories. On the desktop side we will see chips carrying the Zambezi codename along with a relaunch of the FX family of chips, which was last used in 2007 for the AMD Quad FX platform and Athlon 64 FX processors. Like past FX-series chips, these will ship unlocked which is pretty cool given that we know that they have plenty of frequency headroom. This is an effort to brand these new chips as premium, enthusiast-class products but we'll see if they have been successful.

Initially, four FX series Zambezi processors will be launched which offer between four and eight cores. True to AMD’s mantra over the last few years, they are once again eschewing the enthusiast level pricing and have gone straight to the budget friendly $115 to $245 price points. Now that may sound like the fight against high end Sandy Bridge processors has already been lost but Bulldozer supposedly has a few tricks up its sleeve to even things out a bit.

At this moment, AMD are years behind Intel when it comes to overall processor performance, specifically when it comes to lightly-threaded workloads. Situation is about to get worse with Sandy Bridge-E LGA2011 right around the corner and Ivy Bridge coming in early 2012. With years still to go on this new Bulldozer architecture, this is pivotal moment for them to catch up or fall even further back. With 8 cores on tap, we think the initial FX-series offerings will certainly have the multi-threaded aspect covered. However, the real question is whether AMD has managed to increase IPC enough to give these new processors a chance at competing with Intel's all-powerful Sandy Bridge LGA1155 chips.


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