AMD FX-8150 8-Core CPU Review: Bulldozer Is Here - HotHardware

AMD FX-8150 8-Core CPU Review: Bulldozer Is Here

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When we sit down to arrange our thoughts and write an introduction for a new product launch, we typically want to put together some interesting and suspenseful prose that sets the stage for an exciting reveal of an as-yet undisclosed, eagerly anticipated product. No such luck this time around, as the product we’ll be discussing today has been one of the most talked about in tech circles for years—literally.

Today AMD is officially taking the wraps off its latest FX-Series of desktop processors, targeted at performance-minded PC enthusiasts and overclockers. The FX-Series is based on the processor core formerly codenamed Zambezi, which leverages AMD’s much anticipated Bulldozer microarchitecture. The flagship processor in the new FX-Series line-up is the FX-8150, an unlocked, 8-Core processor, with gobs of cache and peak Turbo frequencies that exceed the 4GHz mark. But there’s a lot more to the FX-Series than speeds and feeds. The Bulldozer microarchitecture is a completely new design, which was built from the ground up in an attempt to shed some weight and produce a modular, highly-efficient CPU.

We know many of you have been waiting for this day for quite some time, so we won’t delay any further with more pithy commentary. It’s time to get down to business and take the AMD FX-8150 for a spin though the lab, to see if Bulldozer’s real-world performance earns it a spot in your next system build...


AMD FX-8150 8-Core Processor, Top and Bottom

AMD FX-8150 "Zambezi" 8-Core Processor
Specifications & Features
Model Number & Frequency: FX-8150 / 3.6GHz (base), 3.9GHz (CPU Turbo), 4.2GHz (Max Turbo)
OPN: FD8150FRW8KGU
L1 Cache Sizes: 256K L1 instruction (64KB per module) / 128K L1 data cache (16K per module)
L2 Cache Sizes: 2MB of L2 data cache per module (8MB total L2 per processor)
L3 Cache Size: 8MB (shared)
Total Cache (L2+L3): 16MB
Memory Controller Type: Integrated 72-bit x 2 memory controller
Memory Controller Speed: Up to 2.2GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported: Unregistered DIMMs up to PC3-14900 (DDR3-1866)
HyperTransport 3.0 Specification: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.4GHz full duplex (2.2GHz x2)
Packaging: Socket AM3+ 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Fab location: GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 32-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Die Size: ~315mm2
Approximate Transistor count: ~2 Billion
Max TDP: 125 Watts
AMD Codename: "Zambezi"

We have been reporting on AMD’s Bulldozer microarchitecture and Bulldozer-related topics for quite some time; years actually. As such, we have already posted a number of stories related to today’s launch that contain many pertinent details and complementary information. Below is a list of recent AMD Bulldozer and FX Series related articles we’d suggest perusing, but we’ve been talking about Bulldozer since 2007. If you want to see more, have some fun and hit the search box and news archive...

At the very least, we’d suggest perusing the articles titled, “AMD Lifts The Hood On Bulldozer At ISSCC” and “Next-Gen AMD Bobcat and Bulldozer CPU Deep Dive”. In those two articles, we cover many technical and architectural details that we won’t be repeating here. We’d also suggest checking out our AMD 990FX motherboard round-up, as it includes a number of motherboards (including the Asus CrossHair V Formula we used for testing) that are specifically designed to properly support AMD’s new FX series processors.

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Good to see this thing finally land. Even though it didn't cream the 2600K like people thought it would, it's still a strong performer in it's own right.

I guess now it's up to AMD to make this CPU ~a very compelling buy~ to ensure it's success. If the price to performance ratio is good enough compared to Intel's offerings, it will sell.

The only thing about this beast that gives me pause is the amount of power that it consumes, and the heat that it will certainly generate. (I have a 2600K now that is fast, efficient, and runs cool)

I'm going to wait for a while before I buy into anything. I'm sure that some sort of response is imminent from the boys in blue, and I want to see what that is. Plus, the prices of these Bulldozers will probably come down before too long. Now may not be the best time to buy one.

I thought that this review was a good read, and I stayed up late just to read it all before I went to sleep. I waited until now to comment though. (I couldn't stay awake last night) Good job on the review Marco, as always.

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I wont lie, im happy and a bit sad all at once. Good to see AMD finally releasing this thing, its about time! However, the performance is a bit disappointing, hopefully it will indeed get better in the future with windows 8 and maybe an update to windows 7? Either way, my next comp is a laptop and it will be trinity so im curious to see how piledriver cores will improve upon what ive seen here today. Either way, Congrats AMD! And thanks to Hothardware and Marco for the article!

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Thanks for the review Marco! I'm a little bummed about the performance and power consumption but it still looks like a good chip at an affordable price; which we all expected. Looking forward to seeing some more builds with this! 8 cores......crazy!

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"Oh boy. Well , it did not turned out As I predicted, but it still a good chip. I did some analysis and I came to the conclusion that  AMD needs to price the 8150 equally to SB 2500k, had it been so from the beginning, then the reviews all across the board would have been more favorable. I see a little of Intel's *Speed/Price* ratio pricing of the X58 chips, specifically from the 920 all the way up to the 960. Its the same exact chip but clocked at different *stock* speeds and price. So what do I mean by all of this, well, the 8120 is the same as the 8150, only one is clocked higher then the other so, I would rather save me $60 and go for the 8120 and just have it overclocked to the same overclock speeds that the 8150 can reach."

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103960

"Can't deny that the hype has turned negative for AMD. The average consumer is saying why can't an  8 core beat a 4 core? Why the FX brand, why so much delay for such little gain over the Phenoms. Its safe to say AMD did not deliver but, ultimately, it's not bad, just need better pricing."

"Anyone catch the name scheme in the roadmap?, Bulldozer - PileDriver - SteamRoller - Excavator. ROFL, someone over at AMD sure loves construction equipment, its like with Nvidia and Comic books characters, Ka-lel  - Wayne - Logan - Starks, lol. "

"Anyhow, Marco , is there a separate Bulldozer vs Sandy Bridge Gaming analysis and review coming? Maybe Joel H is working on it?"

 

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Wheatley:
I did some analysis and I came to the conclusion that  AMD needs to price the 8150 equally to SB 2500k, had it been so from the beginning, then the reviews all across the board would have been more favorable.

*slaps head profuriously hard*

Intel Core i5 2500k: $218

AMD FX-8150: $245

I know it's only the suggested retail price but there is only a marginal difference between the price points, so I doubt that it would favor in better reviews. If you really did the research, you would of discovered this: http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/amd_fx_8150fx_8120fx_6100_and_fx_4170,1.html

Also I'd wait a while before making a judgement about the prices, I mean alot of retailers are inflating the prices beyond their suggested prices and I don't know why they're doing it but it just ain't right...

Wheatley:
So what do I mean by all of this, well, the 8120 is the same as the 8150, only one is clocked higher then the other so, I would rather save me $60 and go for the 8120 and just have it overclocked to the same overclock speeds that the 8150 can reach."

So why are you making a big point of an obvious thing that everybody knows? You even said this before in one of your posts; as much as I share your opinion, stating it as a point just doesn't help you in any way.

Wheatley:
"Can't deny that the hype has turned negative for AMD. The average consumer is saying why can't an  8 core beat a 4 core? Why the FX brand, why so much delay for such little gain over the Phenoms."

Didn't you read the article? I read it page to page, detail to detail. The bulldozer-module is a combination of multi-threading and hyper threading. Which means that there are really only 4 cores (modules) and the rest is emulated with hyper-threading... Hence the comment about the 12 core CPU (12 equaling 6 Bulldozer Modules.)

Also: [View:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vQaVIoEjOM]

So yeah... Bulldozer managed to near the i5-2500k at some things but to not match the i7-2600k is disappointing. The price thing is overblown though.

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I did read the AMD FX 8 cores CPU. I was somewhat impressed with its performance. Let's wait for Intel release new powerful processor soon.

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I have been eagerly waiting for this CPU to come out and now I'm deeply disappointed... That thing could bearly compete with the core i5. I'm sure if AMD made and 8 core phenom processor it would perform just as good...

I do understand the challenges that AMD has been facing all these years being the competitor of a dominant monopolistic and resourceful giant like Intel but this is really dispiriting...

I really hope they get their rear in gear and come up with more efficient and competitive chip designs.

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Nice review Marco. I liked how you hit all of the points that people want to hear about, such as how the processor performs in certain citations.

I'm guessing I was right in the fact that Bulldozer would match Intel's processors. I mean even if it didn't beat Intel, it still performed relatively close to them (i7 not included) and if they manage to get their stuff together for next year then maybe it could possibly beat the newer SB-E processors, maybe...

The fact that the CPU didn't perform as they expected however is going to disappoint a few fans who were anticipating Bulldozer though, me included. I mean I've seen a video of some form of Bulldozer powering a game while allowing multi-tasking to happen and while the same may apply here, it just doesn't seem to be the Intel crushing monster that it was hoped to be...

I was surprised that the thing used a combine method of Hyper Threading and true cores. (Kinda makes me wonder how a 12 core Bulldozer processor would perform) I mean I knew that they had some form a method that allowed them to have 8 cores with 4 modules but I didn't expect it to be this. In any case, historically AMD's methods of producing processors have always lead to questionable performance as time goes on. I mean we have Intel focusing heavily on x86 performance and with the lead they have in silicon dies... There's just no question who dominates here.

Anyways, the methods they've used has always resulted in less then expected performance for those users who used their processors, even though some don't mind the performance drop. While they may have found a way that could at least best Intel at some parts, the applications for which it was put through placed less then expected performance results. Like the computer was giving it instructions and the processor just knew exactly what to do but didn't know the most efficient way to do it; this has historically been AMD's weakness; they do seem to be putting improvement with Bulldozer but it's still a weakness.

Despite that, No one can deny that the confidence that AMD had in this processor was justified and again, bringing back the FX brand is a vote of confidence that AMD was working hard to put out a competitive processor that can compete with Intel's 5-series CPU's. And did you see the slides leaked from AMD presentations that detailed how the processor could be powerful under certain situations due to the Bulldozer module that they made for the CPU; and you can't forget about that AMD belt that was seen just a few days. Even though the performance of the processor was disappointing to some, you can't deny that AMD didn't convince customers that their processor would at least not be a Phenom II X4.

So aside from that; yeah... This is Bulldozer in all it's glory. I wasn't following much on Bulldozer due to my lack of interest in upgrading the system but from what I've read, it's competitive, it's cheap (okay, it's $50 more expensive but the fact that it matches Intel at certain parts makes it more viable to those looking for an Intel alternative without the really crappy performance.) and even though they couldn't take advantage of the 32nm process (power consumption for example.) they have managed to make a competitive processor and a jumping pad for future AMD processors should they feel the heat from the SB-E processors that'll be released earlier that'll be certain to blow most of the Bulldozers out of the water but at a high-cost.

Good job AMD! Good job!

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It will be interesting to see the power numbers for the 95W 8 core part the 8120(?). The one things that I look at negatively is the huge differential in the idle and under full load power draws.. At this state of the AMD CPU front I'm thinking the Daneb's still give the best bang for your buck.

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Disappointing performance considering all the hype!

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