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 Bull Dozers OUT !!!!

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PostSubject: Bull Dozers OUT !!!!   Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:37 am

By Chris Martin

Wed Oct 12 2011, 10:07

AMD has announced its FX series processors with up to eight cores and fully unlocked.

The FX line up of chips is completely unlocked for easier
overclocking, so are aimed at PC builders as well as multimedia and
gaming enthusiasts. AMD said the chips are the first ever eight-core
desktop processors. The chips have four modules, each with two cores.

Chris Cloran, CVP and general manager of the Client Computing Group
at AMD said, "While overclockers will certainly enjoy the frequencies
the AMD FX processors can achieve, PC enthusiasts and HD media
aficionados will appreciate the remarkable experience that AMD FX
processors can provide as part of a balanced, affordable desktop

The top of the range FX chip is the FX-8150, which has a base [color=blue][color=blue !important][color=blue !important]clock [color:f771=blue !important]speed
of 3.6GHz that can reach up to 4.2GHz using 'Max Turbo' mode. The other
two chips that have eight cores are the FX-8120 and the FX-8100. The
eight-core option comes with 8MB of L2 and L3 cache.

There is a six-core chip called the FX-6100, which has a base clock
speed of 3.3GHz. There are also three quad-core models that have up to
4.2GHz clock speed as standard.

At a briefing in London, AMD told The INQUIRER that it thinks the FX
chips sit in the 'sweet spot' of the processor market, fitting nicely
between Intel's [color=blue][color=blue !important][color=blue !important]Core [color:f771=blue !important]i5 and Core i7 chips. The high end FX-8150 processor will cost $245 with the cheapest eight-core chip priced at $175.

The processor family, codenamed 'Zambezi', is designed for the AM3+
socket but is backwards compatible with the older AM3 socket, meaning it
will be easier for existing AMD customers to upgrade. µ

Goodbye, Phenom, hello, FX

K10, a fond farewell

AMD has pulled significant mileage out of its Athlon and Phenom CPUs.
Tracing the lineage all the way back to 2003 with the release of the
Athlon 64, architecture modifications - K8 to K10 - die shrinks, socket
longevity, and across-the-board price-cutting means that, eight years
on, the company's six-core Phenom II chips remain solid choices for a
mainstream build.

Meanwhile, competitor Intel has launched a raft of new technologies
and architectures in the same eight years, culminating with the
impressive second-generation Core chips released in January 2011. To
draw a tenuous boxing analogy, AMD's Phenom II is a boxer whose past his
prime, and while price-cutting can mask a foible or two, there's not a
whole lot of time left until he hits the canvas and simply fails to get

AMD's not stood still while Intel's been 'tick-tocking' its way to
ever-more efficient, leaner CPU-and-GPU architectures. It's brought its
own Fusion to play with the all-new desktop Llano, packaging a healthy
dollop of GPU performance with an adequate CPU. Now ready to take the
fight to Intel is a range of new mainstream CPUs that are designed to
replace Phenom II. Enter the Bulldozer family.

FX, the pound-for-pound champion?

Making a clean break from the K10-derived Phenom II architecture,
everything about Bulldozer is new. There's a new fabrication process,
general architecture, ISA support, cache setup, power-delivery system,
and branding: phew! Let's get under the skin of Bulldozer by examining
each in turn.

32nm production

Following on from the process adopted for the CPU-and-GPU Llano, AMD
is using 32nm Silicon-On-Insulator High-K Metal Gate fabrication from
GLOBALFOUNDRIES. 32nm is a must in late-2011, and it enables AMD to
squeeze in more transistors than the 45nm process used for Phenom II.

But GloFo has endured well-documented problems in ensuring a steady
supply of Llano chips. Just how this will translate to Bulldozer yields
is a closely-guarded secret for now, though AMD's PR machine has
responded by stating there will be 'adequate supply' in the channel,
whatever that really means. AMD absolutely needs to support its partners
and the channel when faced with abundance of Core chips flying out of
Intel's fabs.

Architecture - a new beginning

Here's where it gets interesting. AMD acutely understands that any
new architecture needs to scale in terms of cores, power and
performance, enabling it to fit into laptops,
desktop machines and servers. And it's in response to this required
scaling that, literally, a modular architecture has been designed.

Here's Bulldozer as seen from a high-level overview. A quick glance
shows there to be four execution cores surrounded by lots of cache -
16MB, in fact. With dual-channel DDR3 memory interfacing with the
on-chip northbridge, L3 cache, and four HyperTransport links out to the
rest of the system, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot new here. It
won't escape your attention that in no portion of the picture is there
reference to integrated graphics: Bulldozer is a pure CPU.

But first glances can be misleading. You see, while there's no
provision for integrated graphics, there are eight CPU cores present
here, but each core doesn't quite fit into the fully-independent mould
established by processors of yore. There be some explainin' afoot, so
let's zoom into one-quarter of the chip.

Here's a simple overview of what's going in one module. It's
important to understand that Bulldozer is built through modules, where
an eight-core chip has four modules, a six-core chip has three active
modules, and a four-core, well, two: you get the idea. Putting it into
perspective, a four-module, eight-core chip weighs in with nearly
two-billion transistors and has a die size in the region of 315mm².
Interestingly, this is the same size as a six-core Phenom II die, albeit
it's manufactured on the larger 45nm process. Intel, however, manages
to pack four cores, eight threads, and integrated graphics (Core i7
2600K) into a significantly smaller die.

AMD doesn't have two fully-independent cores per module, but neither
is it as integrated as, say, the hyper-threading cores found on Intel's
latest chips, where resources are well and truly shared between
processors. The reason for this core mishmash rests with balancing die
size - and, therefore, manufacturing cost - against core throughput. In a
world that cared little for economic cost, AMD would engineer Bulldozer
with eight independent cores, along with all the necessary per-core
silicon that entails.

Taking Bulldozer for what it is, let's assume two threads are moving
through this module, to be processed on each core. They have to share
the setup stage - fetch, decode - as well as the (much larger)
floating-point scheduler, and, labouring a point that's important to
understand, this would not happen on truly separate cores. However, the
decode stage has been boosted to four instructions per clock cycle, up
from three on Phenom II (albeit per core), and, through a technique
called branch fusion, Bulldozer can actually make the decode stage

Moving on down, each core can handle two ALUs and two AGUs, though
we're reminded Phenom II has three each, and you'll see us talk more of
this during the single-threaded benchmark performance. Back on track,
each core has just 16KB of L1 cache, and while we expected more, AMD
says that having significant L2 cache helps out, where each module has
an exclusive 2MB at its disposal.

Going back across to the FP scheduler, this shared resource has a
loopback system for letting the separate cores know work has been
completed. And that work is done by four pipes - two 128-bit FMAC and
two 128-bit integer - just like Phenom II.

Considered in isolation, AMD's design choices give us a fairly clear
idea of the ideology behind Bulldozer. Single-threaded performance,
where one thread has the entire module to itself, is generally
unimportant here, evidenced by the reduced ALU and AGU setup, and Phenom
II may well give it a good going over in such circumstances,
particularly when judged against apps which use old(er) code. Increase
the load by filling out the module with two threads and inevitable
sharing of resources takes place, especially at the top-end, but
performance degradations are ameliorated by having a four-wide decoder.

It's difficult to know just how potent Bulldozer's modules are
without prior knowledge of the type of workload. If it uses
non-Bulldozer-optimised code then there's a real possibility numbers
will come out low Complicating matters further, AMD introduces a longer
pipeline before threads can be fully computed. Processor 101 tells us
that having such a pipeline opens up the possibility of costly stalls
and branch misprediction, should matters go awry. AMD's Adam Kozak
informed us that Bulldozer has 'much-improved' prefetching and
independent (divorced) logic and prediction.

Rounding it all off from a basic architecture viewpoint, the
northbridge-controlled L3 cache is shared between the cores. This totals
8MB irrespective of how many modules are implemented, meaning that
chips with fewer cores receive inordinately more cache.

The northbridge also controls accesses from system memory. Keeping up
tradition and opting for a dual-channel DDR3 setup, ostensibly because
there's so much on-chip cache available, AMD bumps up speeds to an
officially-supported 1,866MHz

ISA improvements

Practically a given at any genuinely new CPU architecture launch,
AMD's now supporting the Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX),
including hardware-based AES, which we've previously seen on the chip
giant's Sandy Bridge processors. AMD accomplishes the required 256-bit
FP operation by pairing the two aforementioned 128-bit FMACs.

Diverging a little away from Intel-led SSE optimisations, AMD
integrates what's termed XOP and FMA4. These new instructions are what's
left from SSE5. Too deep to go into in detail for this review, XOP and
FMA4 enable the chip to streamline the compute of multi-operand
instructions, but such is the to-and-fro between Intel and AMD relating
to coding specifications, that the minnow, AMD, is having to redefine
its own optimisations to be more in-line with Intel's. Have a read of
this interesting article if you want a background primer.

Turbo Power play

AMD's also beefed-up the power-regulation for Bulldozer. Now, there's
the possibility of power gating a module, using much the same APM
process as on Llano. Gating enables a module to be effectively
(electrically) switched off, saving expending unnecessary power. There's
better RAM power management, says AMD, and more-efficient idling
characteristics for Bulldozer's modules.

Going hand-in-hand with granular power support is a new revision to
AMD's Turbo CORE overclocking. We've previously considered it clunky
when compared to the fine-grained approach Intel has taken with Sandy
Bridge, so AMD overhauled it for Bulldozer.

All cores can be Turbo CORE'd when there's TDP headroom on tap. This
means that a 3.6GHz FX-8150 can push all cores up to 3.9GHz under the
assumption that doing so doesn't breach the 125W TDP limits. The APM
processor within the chip monitors the exact TDP and constantly adjusts
the speed of the chip.

Further, should half, or fewer, cores be used in a particular
application, the chip can run at what AMD terms Max CORE speed, which is
4.2GHz for the FX-8150. Achieving this higher speed is contingent upon
non-working cores dropping into the power-frugal C6 state. As soon as
they're needed and are thus woken up, clockspeed drops down.


The revised power-management system requires a modified socket, says
AMD. The reason for this rests with supplying Bulldozer chips with more
current. Accordingly, motherboard partners have demonstrated the
backwards-compatible AM3+ socket, showcased on 990FX chipset-based motherboards.
Bulldozer and Thuban (Phenom II X6) are mechanically identical,
indicating socket interoperability, and a clutch of motherboard partners
have already certified a few presently-available AM3 boards, via a BIOS
update, as 'Bulldozer-ready.'

Understand that 990FX chipset is practically identical to 890FX, save
for increased current and official support for DDR3-1,866MHz speeds.

Yet chances are you will need a new motherboard if opting for the
latest and greatest from AMD, though be sure to check for updates to any
modern board before shelling hard-earned pennies. Buy a new Bulldozer
CPU and 9-series motherboard and you'll have what AMD terms the Scorpius

Architecture summary

Got all that? Nope? Well, let's distill it in a few words. AMD's new
CPU-only Bulldozer uses two-core modules that are seamlessly joined
together and represented as a single chip to the operating system. These
modules can be harnessed to create eight-, six-, four-, and two-core
chips. Each module has both independent and shared logic for the two
cores, and AMD has architected such a chip to obtain the most
bang-per-silicon buck for present and future workloads.

Newer instruction sets keep it up to date and further differentiate
it from incumbent six-core Phenom II, while improved Turbo CORE and
power gating brings efficiency to the fore. Now let's talk some
pragmatism with real-world models.

Models - FX reborn

Here's an AMD-provided list of Bulldozer models that'll be made
available from today onwards. The retail world doesn't adhere to
codenames such as Bulldozer - more's the shame! - and AMD has made the
bold decision to resurrect the FX nomenclature that's hither-to denoted
supreme performance.

For once it's easy to see how AMD has cooked up the model numbers,
where the first numerical value indicates number of cores and subsequent
numbers the position of that processor within the same-core bracket.
The deep pipeline enables AMD to ratchet the base speed up to Phenom
II-beating levels, and the improved Turbo CORE is manifested in
significant jumps over and above this base clock.

Let's dig into the fastest of the bunch, FX-8150. Shipping with
guaranteed all-core frequency of 3.6GHz, it can, under ideal conditions,
ramp up to 4.2GHz: heady stuff indeed. TDP is an industry-standard
125W, with the option of cheaper chips having dual TDPs - much like
Phenom II. L2 cache is predicated on the number of modules present, but
L3 is a standard 8MB. And, of course, all FX chips need an AM3+ form


Of the three chips for which the pricing has been disclosed, FX-8150
is likely to tip-up at $245, FX-8120 at $205, and FX-6100 at $165.
What's more, all FX chips are multiplier-unlocked, meaning you can push
up the frequency, by way of the multiplier, to your heart's and
cooling's content. Such a move is interesting because it begs the
question of why someone would proffer the additional $40 over and above
the FX-8120, knowing both it and the '50 are unlocked?

But why has AMD priced what appears to be a powerhouse CPU - eight
cores, 4.2GHz maximum speed, lots of cache - at such aggressive levels?
The answer, dear reader, will be revealed as we expose the FX's Achilles
Heel in our suite of benchmarks. Can you guess what it is yet? No? Read



The Bulldozer Review: AMD FX-8150 Tested

by Anand Lal Shimpi on 10/12/2011 1:27:00 AM

Posted in


AMD has been trailing Intel in the x86 performance space for years now.
Ever since the introduction of the first Core 2 processors in 2006, AMD
hasn't been able to recover and return to the heyday of the Athlon 64
and Athlon 64 X2. Instead the company has remained relevant by driving
costs down and competing largely in the sub-$200 microprocessor space.
AMD's ability to hold on was largely due to its more-cores-for-less
strategy. Thanks to aggressive pricing on its triple and hexa-core
parts, for users who needed tons of cores, AMD has been delivering a lot
of value over the past couple of years.

Recently however Intel has been able to drive its per-core performance
up with Sandy Bridge, where it's becoming increasingly difficult to
recommend AMD alternatives with higher core counts. The heavily threaded
desktop niche is tough to sell to, particularly when you force users to
take a significant hit on single threaded performance in order to
achieve value there. For a while now AMD has needed a brand new
architecture, something that could lead to dominance in heavily threaded
workloads while addressing its deficiencies in lightly threaded
consumer workloads. After much waiting, we get that new architecture
today. Bulldozer is here.

It's branded the AMD FX processor and it's only available in a single die configuration. Measuring 315mm2
and weighing in at around 2 billion transistors (that's nearly
GPU-sized fellas), Bulldozer isn't that much smaller than existing 45nm
6-core Phenom II designs despite being built on Global Foundries' 32nm
SOI process. Both die area and transistor count are up significantly
over Sandy Bridge, which on Intel's 32nm HKMG process is only 1.16B
transistors with a die size of 216mm2. This is one big chip.

CPU Specification Comparison
CPU Manufacturing Process Cores Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Bulldozer 8C 32nm 8 ~2B 315mm2
AMD Thuban 6C 45nm 6 904M 346mm2
AMD Deneb 4C 45nm 4 758M 258mm2
Intel Gulftown 6C 32nm 6 1.17B 240mm2
Intel Nehalem/Bloomfield 4C 45nm 4 731M 263mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 4C 32nm 4 995M 216mm2
Intel Lynnfield 4C 45nm 4 774M 296mm2
Intel Clarkdale 2C 32nm 2 384M 81mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT1) 32nm 2 504M 131mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT2) 32nm 2 624M 149mm2
Architecturally Bulldozer is a significant departure from anything
we've ever seen before. We'll go into greater detail later on in this
piece, but the building block in AMD's latest architecture is the
Bulldozer module. Each module features two integer cores and a shared
floating point core. FP hardware is larger and used less frequently in
desktop (and server workloads), so AMD decided to share it between every
two cores rather than offer a 1:1 ratio between int/fp cores on
Bulldozer. AMD advertises Bulldozer based FX parts based on the number
of integer cores. Thus a two module Bulldozer CPU, has four integer
cores (and 2 FP cores) and is thus sold as a quad-core CPU. A four
module Bulldozer part with eight integer cores is called an eight-core
CPU. There are obvious implications from a performance standpoint, but
we'll get to those shortly.

The FX Lineup

There are a total of 7 AMD FX CPUs that AMD is announcing today, although only four are slated for near-term availability.

CPU Specification Comparison
Processor Cores Clock Speed Max Turbo NB Clock L2 Cache TDP Price
AMD FX-8150 8 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 2.2GHz 8MB 125W $245
AMD FX-8120 8 3.1GHz 4.0GHz 2.2GHz 8MB 95W/125W $205
AMD FX-8100* 8 2.8GHz 3.7GHz 2GHz 8MB 95W
AMD FX-6100 6 3.3GHz 3.9GHz 2GHz 6MB 95W $165
AMD FX-4170* 4 4.2GHz 4.3GHz 2.2GHz 4MB 125W
AMD FX-B4150* 4 3.8GHz 4GHz 2.2GHz 4MB 95W
AMD FX-4100 4 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 2GHz 4MB 95W $115
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T 6 3.2GHz 3.6GHz 3MB 3MB 125W $190
AMD Phenom II X4 980 4 3.7GHz N/A 2MB 2MB 125W $170
The FX-8150, 8120, 6100 and 4100 are what's launching today. The first
digit in AMD's FX model numbers indicates the number of cores with the
8150 and 8120 boasting eight, while the 6100 only has six active integer
cores (three Bulldozer modules). The FX-4100 features four integer
cores. L2 cache scales with core count (2MB per module), while the L3
cache size remains fixed at 8MB regardless of SKU.

North Bridge and L3 cache frequency alternate between 2.0GHz and 2.2GHz
depending on the part. TDPs range between 95W and 125W as well, with
the FX-8120 being offered in both 125W and 95W versions.

There's only a single Bulldozer die. The 6 and 4 core versions simply
feature cores disabled on the die. AMD insists this time around, core
unlocking won't be possible on these harvested parts.

The huge gap in clock speed between the 8120 and 8150 are troubling.
Typically we see linear frequency graduations but the fact that there's a
16% difference between these two SKUs seems to point to process
problems limiting yield at higher frequencies—at least for the 8-core

Outside of the quad-core and hex-core Bulldozer pats, the only other FX
processor able to exceed the 3.3GHz clock speed of the Phenom II X6
1100T is the 8150. And if you include quad-core Phenom II parts in the
mix, only two Bulldozer parts ship at a higher stock frequency than the
Phenom II X4 980. Granted Turbo Core will help push frequencies even
higher, but these low base frequencies are troubling. For an
architecture that was designed to scale to clock speeds 30% higher than
its predecessor, Bulldozer doesn't seem to be coming anywhere close.

The entire FX lineup ships unlocked, which allows for some easy overclocking as you'll see soon enough.

Gallery: AMD FX-8150 Processor

Motherboard Compatibility

AMD is certifying its FX processors for use on Socket-AM3+
motherboards. Owners of standard AM3 motherboards may be out of luck,
although motherboard manufacturers can choose to certify their boards
for use with Bulldozer if they wish to do so. From AMD's perspective
however, only AM3+ motherboards with BIOS/UEFI support for Bulldozer are
officially supported.

All existing AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+ heatsinks should work with the FX
processor; they simply need to be rated for the TDP of the processor
you're looking to cool.

For this review, AMD supplied us with ASUS' Crosshair V Formula AM3+ motherboard based on AMD's 990FX chipset.

AMD does offer six 6Gbps SATA ports on its 990FX chipset, a significant
upgrade from the two 6Gbps ports on Intel's 6-series chipsets.
Unbuffered ECC memory is also supported for those who desire the added
security, once again a feature not supported on Intel's consumer grade
6-series chipsets.

Despite AMD's trend towards releasing APUs with integrated GPUs (thus
requiring a new socket), AMD insists that the AM3+ platform will live to
see one more processor generation before it's retired.

AMD's Liquid CPU Cooling System

Alongside its new FX processors AMD is introducing its first branded liquid cooling system manufactured by Asetek.

AMD's cooling system is similar to other offerings from companies like
Antec and Corsair. The system is self contained, you never have to worry
about adding any more liquid to it.

Attach the cooling module to your CPU socket via a simple bracket, and
affix the radiator to your case and you're good to go. The radiator is
cooled via two 120mm fans, also included in the box.

AMD doesn't have an exact idea on pricing or availability of its liquid
cooling solution, but I'm told to expect it to be around $100 once
available. My sample actually arrived less than 12 hours ago, so expect a
follow up with performance analysis later this week.

The Roadmap

For the first time in far too long, AMD is actually being very
forthcoming about its future plans. At a recent tech day about
Bulldozer, AMD laid out its CPU core roadmap through 2014. The code
names are below:

Piledriver you already know about, it's at the heart of Trinity, which
is the 2—4 core APU due out in early 2012. Piledriver will increase CPU
core performance by around 10—15% over Bulldozer, although it will
initially appear in a lower performance segment. Remember that final
generation of AM3+ CPU I mentioned earlier? I fully expect that to be a
GPU-less Piledriver CPU due out sometime in 2012.

Steamroller will follow in 2013, again improving performance (at the
core level) by around 10—15%. Excavator will do the same in 2014. AMD
believes that these performance increases will be sufficient to keep up
with Intel over time, however I'll let you be the judge of that once we
get to the Bulldozer performance numbers.

The other thing to note about AMD's roadmap is it effectively puts the
x86 business on an annual cadence, in line with what we've seen from the
AMD GPU folks. Although AMD isn't talking about what process nodes to
expect all of these cores at, it looks like AMD will finally have an
answer to Intel's tick-tock release schedule moving forward.

Very mixed review's so far
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