Indeed, it had been a very long wait for anything totally new to come out of AMD’s CPU camp but its Bulldozer architecture was built from scratch and finally arrived in October 2011 – its totally new modular design raised considerable interest. In essence, each module is a dual-core CPU with each core having its own 16KB of L1 cache and 2MB of L2 shared between each module while 8MB of L3 cache is shared between all the cores in the die.
AMD Bulldozer architecture block diagram
All this combined makes the Bulldozer a big chip, with a die size of 315 mm² and a 1.2 billion transistor count. Bulldozer also uses the existing AM3+socket, unlike Intel’s Sandy Bridge E that requires new components. The FX-8150 has four of these Bulldozer modules and therefore is a 8-core chip with a core clock of 3.6 GHz, which rises up to 4.2GHz with AMD’s Turbo technology.
The fact that it doesn’t have any competition from AMD in the high-end performance processor market has made Intel pretty complacent, for example both the Core i7-3960X and Core i7 3930K aren’t quite what nature intended them to be. In truth, they are both eight-core chips but have two cores disabled simply because Intel doesn’t feel the need to have an eight-core chip in this market space. Besides, if AMD had a complete change of heart and launched some fire breathing chip, then all Intel has to do is to enable those redundant cores and launch a new range to combat it.
Intel X79 Express chipset block diagram
So for now, just like the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, the Core i7 3930K is a six-core Sandy Bridge E processor with hyper threading. In effect, the latter delivers 12 threaded chip built on a 32nm process. The 3930K is a 100MHz slower than the 3960X, clocked at 3.2GHz (3.8GHz with Turbo) with 12MB of Intel L3 Smart Cache and it supports quad memory channels.
Next page: Performance charts
But is extreme what is needed?
It's touched on in the article in a couple of places, but not really expanded upon. Probably because the article is focused on "extreme CPU workout", but things like the socket compatability are quite significant. I have an old AMD Phenom II X6 processor. At some point I will likely want to put in a new CPU, perhaps when Piledriver (the next gen Bulldozer) arrives. At this point, I can just pop it into the existing motherboard. AMD have long been better on compatability. The AM2 socket lasted for a long time.
Also, the CPU is seldom the bottle neck for most users. So yes, if you have tonnes of money and the will to spend it, you can get yourself a high-end Intel and a top of the range SSD. But for the rest of us, it's better not to blow all the money on the processor and spend a bit more on the SSD in terms of performance. In terms of overall experience, it's even better to spend a bit more on a decent monitor if you're going to be staring at it all day. If you're a gamer, better spending the money on a better or second graphics card too.
It depends what you need. I guess my opinion is that you spend your budget on the priorities and pushing your processor to the best around is one of the last things you do if you still have budget left over. I think this will be especially true with the ultra-thin style laptops that are coming out where AMD's new APU designs make them more efficient and capable than Intel's (and hopefully cheaper). AMD is clearly targetting the vast majority of buyers, rather than the extreme performance market which must be tiny compared to everyone else.
Just some thoughts on AMD vs. Intel. I think AMD are actually going to have a few very good years coming up. Intel has seized the top of the hill and AMD is busy hoovering up the low-lands all around it, it seems to me.
Re: But is extreme what is needed?
Indeed, AMD (and Intel if it's honest) has realised that the CPU power race ended the minute dual core CPUS came out. At that point 90% of the worlds PCs users were sorted for life with regards to doing their day to day computing.
The fact Intel pushes out these £800 fastest CPUs is great and all but how many do they actually sell? Especially to the domestic market. Only a very small percentage of the worlds PC users actually read the tech reports on CPUs.
They are really nothing than a marketing tool and internet buzz creating. I've never seen one of these chips in the wild.
So AMD is wise to just concentrate of getting hold of Joe Average with a nice average CPU for a lower than average price.
Just waiting for the herd of ....
...socially awkward PC enthusiasts that class themselves as 'Hardcore' because they have the £800 to spend on a CPU (guess why folks) that they only use for running pointless benchmarks on all day and nothing else. To say that "OMFG the AMD is so lame and the IPC of the INTEL is just so much better cos in X benchmark it does this and in Y benchmark it does that...."
FFS quit with the benchmarks and lowering the timings on your Extreme Dragon Hell For Leather Quad Turbonutter ram to get that FPS score from 146FPS to 146.6FPS.
You are wasting your life! Go outside and find a girlfriend or some real friends at least.
It doesn't impress normal people with normal lives.
I prefer more cores to faster cores
because it runs my code faster. On 8 or 16 cores I also tend to get a slightly better load balance than on 6 and 12, because the binary tree structure used in the gather phase of many algorithms is nicely balanced. Furthermore, hyperthreading is great mainly if the different threads share a lot of the data they work on, so the you do not get cache contention issues. In my code I find it does not contribute anything, and can actually harm performance.
The same does not hold for a lot of code out there. Horses for courses. For my desktop, the AMD chip is best (but not with a AMD/Radeon graphics board, because we also use CUDA), others may be served better with Intel chips.
Re: Just waiting for the herd of ....
I spend most of my day in front of a PC. I run CAD applications where interactive mouse movements trigger hundreds of millions of processor cycles which I have to wait for.
A few hundred quid extra for a processor which saves me a fraction of a second thousands of times a day is money well spent, it is also a small fraction of the cost of the software it runs.
'socially awkward PC enthusiasts' are not the only people interested in and prepared to pay for high processor performance.