New Bulldozer Benchmarks Leak, Mostly Miss the Mark

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News Posted: Thu, Jul 14 2011 3:36 PM
With Bobcat and Llano launched, AMD has one more major product overhaul set for this year. The company's Bulldozer CPU will launch in the next few months, and after years of waiting, enthusiasts and IT industry analysts are both curious to see what AMD has in its high performance pipeline. A Turkish website, Donanim Haber, recently got its hands on what they claim is a Bulldozer FX processor--but while we're going to talk about the site's findings, we'd recommend readers take them with some caution.

The new octal-core processor is an AMD FX-8130P running at 3.2GHz base speed, what's reported as a 3.7GHz Turbo speed, and a 4.2GHz clock speed if only half the CPU's cores are in use. This implies that the new chip mixes TDP modes much more flexibly than previous six-core Thuban processors. AMD is therefore guaranteeing 3.2GHz operation, offering 3.6GHz (on all eight cores) if conditions are right, and implying that 4.2GHz might happen if four or fewer cores are in use.

The Turkish story also implies that we'll see FX return as an entire product brand affixed to Bulldozer processors as opposed to a top-end designation. There are some discrepancies between the clockspeeds and features of the CPUs listed as forthcoming in the accompanying chart vs. the FX-8130P running on the site's testbed, but here are the basics:  According to DH, we'll see 8xx, 6xx, and 4xx parts, with the first digit corresponding to the number of CPU cores. Clockspeeds will range from 3.6GHz base / 4.2GHz Turbo on the top-end FX-8150 to 3.6GHz base / 3.8GHz Turbo on the quad-core FX-4100. The amount of L3 cache will also vary, from 8MB on the 8xxx parts to 4MB on the 4xxx chips.

Here's where we have to interject a note of caution. DH ran a number of benchmarks, but virtually all of the results are worthless. That's a harsh thing to say, so let us explain our reasoning.

3DMark 11 is a graphics subsystem test. Based on the program's inherent statistical weighting, CPU differences can account for 25 percent of the total score, at most. PCMark 7 is designed to measure the performance of an entire system--it's great as part of a suite of tests, bad for examining architectural differences. This goes double when we have no idea what storage solution was installed or whether AHCI was enabled/disabled. Super Pi is a ridiculously outdated, inapplicable metric that equates to using triangle throughput as a metric for 3D purchases. The AIDA64, results, meanwhile, either mis-detected the CPUs clockspeed, or were run on an overclocked flavor, not the base model.

That leaves us with Cinebench and Fritz Chess. The DH team unfortunately used Cinebench R10, not 11.5. This is a major problem--CB R10 scales very badly above four cores, as we've previously demonstrated when comparing performance on both AMD and Intel processors. Regardless of architecture, the test plateaus. In our review of the Digital Storm Enix, we showed that the Maingear Shift (with a six-core processor) was just six percent faster than the quad-core Sandy Bridge in CB10, but was 16 percent faster in CB 11.5.

The Fritz Chess result of 14,197 suggests that a 3.2GHz eight-core Bulldozer is ~23 percent faster than a 3.2GHz six-core Thuban. Since an eight core chip has 33 percent more cores than a six-core chip, that's precisely the sort of scaling we'd expect to see from a chip with two additional cores bolted on.

This is why company's work hard to control how and when information is shared with the public. What looks like solid data is rendered useless due to poor benchmark choices, less-than-full disclosure, and an apparent lack of knowledge about newer tests that have replaced old standards due to a need to support multi-core processing.
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"Glad you put this up, I backed off from putting it in the forum. I'm not believing anything from any unreliable source until the actual reviews are put here. One thing I note from that same source is the date of the test ,3DMark11 :  1-2-2008  , Photoshop FAIL"


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Joel H replied on Thu, Jul 14 2011 6:52 PM

That's not a PS fail--it can simply mean an incorrect clock. Check the GT scores against known results for the GTX 580. Since we already know how 3DMark scores, correct results in those cases imply the benchmark is more likely to be legitimate.

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VPatcha replied on Fri, Jul 15 2011 12:21 AM

Thanks for explaining the relevance of the benchmarking programs and versions, some of that I did not know, and I bet a lot of people out there know even less. I still see hordes of people clamoring for SuperPi results with few knowledgeable people shouting them down, citing its outdated x87 instructions.

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CDeeter replied on Fri, Jul 15 2011 1:18 AM

Thanks for the clarification. This is somewhat disappointing, in that I was happy to see some early results for Bulldozer. And I know several other sites had posts citing the same source, but once again you guys are the only one to shed light on the situation, and reveal the truth. Thanks for being honest, and taking the time to analyze these results instead of rushing to be the first to post.

PS You mentioned that one of the results looked to be for an overclocked cpu. For what it's worth, I believe that some other sites were quoting an overclock of 5.1 Ghz.

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Joel H replied on Fri, Jul 15 2011 11:00 AM


Overclocked results are fun--I've got a pair of phase change units that I enjoy testing and I've used them to take a Thuban up to 4.4GHz (not record-setting by any means, but useful for testing scaling). The problem with using OC results without careful control tests is that they don't tell us anything about how the chip performs in a real-world environment.

Regardless of how easy it is to OC a chip, only a very tiny handful of companies will ever sell it in an OC'd configuration. Any website claiming to provide useful data needs to articulate both base performance and OC'd results, along with an explanation of how an overclock was achieved. Raising IMC, RAM, and HT speeds in conjunction with an overclock can lead to different performance characteristics than simply raising clockspeed.

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DDeFrana replied on Fri, Jul 15 2011 12:40 PM

This result is a fake. Check the original source, please. They apologized for being cheated by their own source.

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Joel H replied on Fri, Jul 15 2011 4:30 PM


Do you speak Turkish? The Google Translation of the amended website is good enough to give the general idea that false numbers were given, but I can't make much headway with the specifics of the situation.

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FBango replied on Fri, Sep 2 2011 2:10 PM

Well considering that the CPU they tested was a Engeneer Chip, as well as they used old/bad bench apps, I think everyone needs to chill out and wait till Its actually released on the 19th of Sept.

Then wait for good benches to be released and in turn not feed the fanboy trolls that are lurking.

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FRubi replied on Fri, Sep 23 2011 3:47 PM

So yeah, about that 19th of Sept?

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AKwyn replied on Fri, Sep 23 2011 6:14 PM


So yeah, about that 19th of Sept?

Don't forget about November and December!


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