AMD FX-8150 Reviewccokeman - October 11, 2011
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It has been about a year and a half since AMD launched a six core processor dubbed the Phenom II X6 1090T, followed shortly by the 1100T, which was pretty much just a speed jump without a major technology shift. This is something AMD really has done over the past year to hit most of the pricing segments, which seemingly follow the segmentation model in the GPU sector. Intel had a semi-successful launch with its socket 1155 processors and this looks to be the performance target that AMD was aiming for. After all the speculation, hype, and leaks, the FX-8150 launch is what brings us to this point in time. AMD is launching their latest processors with an all-new architecture, code named "Bulldozer" for the desktop and Interlagos/Valencia for server markets. The desktop model is what we are looking at today, and with this launch, heralds the return of the FX moniker to the AMD lineup. In the past, the FX prefix was indicative of the highest performing CPU that AMD offered. Well, here we are again in the same boat, but instead of being limited to a single "Halo" chip, there are a series of FX processors to fill out the product stack – from the four core FX-4100 (3.6GHz; $115) to the eight core king of the hill FX-8150(3.6GHz; $245). Piled in between are two more eight core, two more four core, and a single hex core chip, all supporting Turbo Core technology, save for one of the four core offerings. At launch there will be four processors available: the FX-8150, FX-8120, FX-6100, and FX-4100. AMD showed off the technology and its overclocking prowess, back at the end of August, to a select number of guests and promptly broke the world record for CPU speed at 8.429GHz in an overclocking demonstration that set the bar for this launch. Max clock speeds are nice, but what does it mean to the average consumer and enthusiast? How will it perform and where does the performance fall by comparison? Its time to put the speculation to rest and see what AMD has put together with the world's first true 8 core processor for consumer use.
The FX series processors are part of a platform designed for Gamers and High Definition content enthusiasts called Scorpius, which includes 990 chipset-based motherboards like the MSI FX990A-GD80 and the ASUS Crosshair V Formula, a 6 series video card, and of course the FX series processor.
The AMD FX series processors are built using "monolithic dual core building blocks" that have the ability to support two execution threads. Two building blocks under one die gives you the 4XXX series, three gives the 6XXX, and of course that means four blocks gives you a true 8 core chip. Built on the 32nm node for use in socket AM3+ motherboards, the FX-8150 specs include a die size of 315 mm2, 2 million transistors, 128 KB of Level1 Data Cache (16KB per core), 256 KB of Level1 Instruction Cache (64KB per module), 8 MB of Level2 Cache (2 MB per module), Integrated Northbridge controlling with 8 MB of Level3 Cache, two 72-bit wide DDR3 memory channels, and four 16-bit HyperTransport™ links. The base clock speed of the FX-8150 is 3.6GHz and supports Turbo Core technology with clock speeds of up to 4.2GHz in lightly-threaded applications, while still keeping within the 125watt TDP profile, which is done by dropping 4 cores for maximum clocks or reducing the maximum clock speed to 3.9GHz with all 8 cores enabled. DDR3 memory up to 1866MHz is supported natively with a 2.2GHz northbridge clock. Power and performance management can be controlled at the core or module level. Visually, the FX-8150 looks much the same as any AM3 CPU with the integrated heatspreader covering the die and the interface pin-set on the back side.
To make sure we had everything we needed to show off the FX-8150, AMD included two of the three major components of the Scorpius platform in the Asus Crosshair V Formula and of course the top of the line FX-8150. The packaging shows off the FX messaging. Inside was the 990FX board, CPU, retail packaging, and a Texas sized belt buckle with the Scorpius platform logo embossed on it. In select markets a liquid cooling solution by Asetek will be offered as an up-charge over the cost of the reference-based solution.
The chip is locked in and ready to go. The Crosshair V board was supplied by AMD for the review and we will also be testing out MSI's offering in the 990FXA-GD80 soon, to see if the board actually makes a difference in performance. After seeing that 8.429GHz world record, I need to see just how high this thing will go.