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Building Up Bulldozer: AMD Reintroduces 'FX' Brand

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News Posted: Tue, Jun 7 2011 10:21 PM
AMD announced the relaunch of its high-end 'FX' processor brand at E3 today, in a move clearly timed to grab the attention of gamers and computing enthusiasts. For those of you who aren't familiar with the brand, it dates back to 2003 and the launch of AMD's then-new 64-bit, K8 architecture. At the time, the standard Athlon 64 brand applied to processors based on Socket 754 with just one channel of DDR RAM. This solution was quite competitive against Intel's fastest P4 Northwood processors, but AMD opted to do more than just match Northwood's performance.

Athlon 64 FX processors used Opteron's Socket 940, matched the P4's dual-channel DDR400 memory configuration, and were clocked at 2.2GHz as opposed to the 2GHz that was standard for the vanilla Athlon 64 3200+. For several years thereafter, the FX brand was reserved for AMD's fastest, highest-performance desktop processor.


The chip that started it all.

Intel's resurgent Core 2 Duo put the kibosh on AMD's Athlon 64 FX brand almost from the beginning. AMD struggled to fight back by offering a dual-socket motherboard and faster FX-class processors, but the company's Quad FX  brand was widely criticized as consuming much more power without offering competitive performance. By the end of 2007, the FX brand was dead in the water.

Brand Positioning

AMD's PR hints at what consumers can expect. "AMD's FX brand will enable an over-the-top experience for PC enthusiasts," said Leslie Sobon, vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, AMD. "By combining an unlocked, native eight-core processor, the latest in chipset technology, and AMD's latest graphics cards, FX customers will enjoy an unrivalled feature set and amazing control over their PC's performance."

Previously, AMD had said only that Zambezi would be a 4-8 core product; this new announcement implies that AMD may reserve the octal core products for its highest-end FX processors. There's no word on whether or not the company will release a hexa-core processor. Doing so would allow the company to sell processors that didn't fully qualify as eight-core products.

AMD's decision to re-launch the FX brand implies that Bulldozer's performance is good enough to challenge Intel in ways previous Phenom II parts couldn't. Zambezi, however, is unlikely to retake the performance crown from Sandy Bridge and Westmere in absolute terms.

It makes much more sense for AMD to position future Bulldozer FX products at price points that challenge Intel's Sandy
Bridge and Westmere processors. Intel's quad-core Sandy Bridge-based 2600K currently sells for $314 at NewEgg, while the cheapest six-core Gulftown processor (i7-970, 3.2GHz) is $595. An octal-core Bulldozer FX processor could slip neatly between the two Intel chips with a price/performance ratio that's competitive with both.

AMD has kept its cards close to its chest as far as Bulldozer's performance is concerned, but the return of FX branding is a good sign. At the very least, it suggests AMD is on the verge of shrinking the gap between its own products and Intel's Core i7/i5/i3 family.
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LBowen replied on Tue, Jun 7 2011 10:26 PM

I'm very interested in the performance of the Bulldozer but unfortunately I guess I will still have to just wait and see.

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rrplay replied on Tue, Jun 7 2011 10:54 PM

I liked reading today about the return of AMD s FX branding and the way it seems like they are going to position the newer line of chips.I am an AMD fan at heart and would really like to see them shrink the gap and give Intel some serious competition This is good news for almost the second week of June and Bulldozer will eventually get here, nice to hear about the FX branding name as well.Almost think that AMD may possibly be getting  a newer fan base as well pretty soon.

just have to wait a bit more and see.

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hey got a ?

is this the same AMD Processor that was backward compatible with AMD 3 mobo's

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pwrntspd replied on Tue, Jun 7 2011 11:35 PM

I am really excited to see what these processors can do. Nice to see that AMD is finding their own way to do things, maybe a better way? In any case i cant wait to see what these puppies can do.

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I'm not very familiar with AMD's chips back in the 2000s era, so nice overview of the future FX and review of the old. Thanks Joel!

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realneil replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 12:15 AM

The thing about FX CPU's back in the day was that they were expensive. Hopefully AMD isn't planning a return to the glory days as far as prices go.

Time will tell if this is going to be good competition for Intel's Sandy Bridge Line,.....but if AMD prices their BD line equal to Intel's SB prices, I will not be happy.

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"Looks like AMD has a "Can on Of Whoop Ass" ready, literally, for Intels Sandy Bridge, just look at the metal canister that houses the highest end 8 Core Bulldozer chip."

-Optimus

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LBowen replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 12:21 AM

That is a very well designed box. Now they just need to send that to the gents here at HotHardware for extensive testing. Make it so.

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herlof replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 12:29 AM

i really waiting for this bulldozer

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realneil replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 12:40 AM

So this is how it rolls? Looks like each core runs independent of all the rest. All have varying speeds and multipliers too.

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AKwyn replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 12:58 AM

I always knew that image with a Terminator-like robot proclaiming "I'll be back" meant something.

@realneil That is incredible, each core running independently of each other. It's really something I'd like to have in my hands AMD and actually makes me more excited for Bulldozer, though I still want to see performance numbers.

Still, hurrah for AMD for bringing back FX!

EDIT: Also I saw that the cores were running 19 degrees even though they're a couple of meters together, I have to say for a 4 GHz processor, that's pretty impressive.

 

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"Yeah, and look how low it dips to, 500MHz, in this picture. Can you imagine having all 8 core running at 4Ghz and best of all is that, most website are stating that it will be priced at around $350, Hopefully it will turn out that way."

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i really really hope this can bulldoze intel. i personally use intel, but the competition is what's necessary. Especially in price-point battles.

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Go AMD, I have never built an AMD system but with these types of innovation I would certainly consider it. We will have to see what Intel answers back with by the time Bulldozer actually arrives. Of course HH will have the reviews for us :)

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rapid1 replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 9:38 AM

Nice Pic realneil, one of the amazing things I see in the picture is the temps. All cores are running at 19C that is low whether operating at stock or oc'd. All four cores on my i7 are at 50C right now, and I over last weekend removed, and reapplied ceramique on it as well as cleaning the fans and re-seating. So my temps are lower than they were last week at as far as building AMD systems I have built them for years. My current rig I won here a year and 4 months ago, and the i7 has been great, of course it sits next to Sarah's, that has a 965 BE in it. While they run pretty close to each other the Intel wins performance wise for now. Hopefully this will change that when it drops which from what I have heard should be within the next 3 months I think.

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realneil replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 10:48 AM

OptimusPrimeTime:
Can you imagine having all 8 core running at 4Ghz

Yes,......that's the 800 pound Gorilla in the room!

Can this CPU run every core, full out, and at maximum speeds without boiling over? Thermal considerations are always paramount, especially with a brand new platform. So it will be the most important consideration for me, until they earn, over time, their 'thermal-reliability' chops. Also, just as important is whether or not the platform actually uses those eight cores normally. (instead of defaulting to just a few of them for most tasks) If AMD has found a way to actually spread the wealth and utilize every core, all of the time, then it will be amazing to behold.

Part of the beauty that we've come to love with Sandy Bridge is that they don't develop as much heat as their predecessors. You don't need that giant cooler that takes up so much inner-case acreage. If you OC them, an aftermarket cooler can still be needed or preferred, but no longer do you need one that sounds like it's preparing for takeoff on runway 29. This presents a challenge to AMD to duplicate and move towards more thermally controlled processors in the industry. Will they be up to this?

rapid1:
one of the amazing things I see in the picture is the temps. All cores are running at 19C that is low whether operating at stock or oc'd.

But they're right next to one another on the same piece of silicon. That they all show the same temps is not too surprising to me. Crank all of the cores up to maximum and leave them there for an hour and then let's look at those temps. This is what interests me.

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EHarler replied on Wed, Jun 8 2011 11:16 AM

Verily looking forward to Bulldozer's success... so Intel gets Ivy Bridge out faster. Intel for life.

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Ya this gets me excited. I don't care which is better when they come out, Intel or AMD, but either way, cheaper and more powerful CPUs FTW!

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