AMD Breaks 8GHz Overclock with Upcoming FX Processor, Sets World Record

While out at an event in AMD’s Austin offices a couple of weeks back, we got a chance to get up close and personal with the company’s upcoming Bulldozer-based FX-line of processors. Many of the details disclosed at the event are still under embargo, but AMD is allowing a bit of a sneak peek with today’s Guinness World Record announcement.

One of the demos at AMD’s HQ consisted of an array of overclocked FX processors, using various cooling methods, including air, water, and phase-change hardware. But the real star of the event was a liquid-nitrogen / liquid-helium setup that allowed AMD’s overclocking team to push a pre-release AMD FX-8150 processor to well over 8GHz, setting a world record for modern processor frequency in the process.


A handful of the AMD FX-8150 overclocking demos at AMD HQ

AMD’s goals with the overclocking demo were two-fold; to show that there was good frequency headroom in the chips, even at this relatively early stage of production, and to see if FX processors suffered from any “cold-bugs” when run at extreme, low temperatures. What we saw at the event was early FX processors running at around 5GHz with high-end air and water-cooling, in the 6GHz range with phase-change, and well over 8GHz on liquid-nitrogen and liquid-helium. Voltages of over 1.9v were used as well for some of the more extreme tests.

The overclockers working on “Team AMD” at the event were Sami Maekinen, Brian Mchlachlan, Pete Hardman, Aaron Schradin, and Simon Solotko, a senior manager at AMD. The team had access to dozens of early AMD FX-8150
processors and methodically worked through a batch of chips until ultimately hitting a peak of 8.429GHz using liquid-helium, easily breaking the previous record of 8.309GHz. Note that 8.49GHz was attained with only two of the processor’s eight cores enabled.

We have yet to do any personal overclocking tests of our own on an AMD FX processor, but if what we’ve seen so far plays out in the real-world when the chips hit retail, AMD overclockers are in for some serious fun. After some early missteps, it appears that Global Foundries’ 32nm SOI process, which is used to manufacture AMD's new family of processors, is now in good shape, and will likely get even better over time. We’ll all know soon enough once AMD ships the FX in volume in Q4.