AMD Launches New Bulldozer CPUs At Substantially Higher Clockspeeds, TDPs

Ever since Bulldozer's less-than-spectacular debut, enthusiasts and investors have watched to see if the company would follow up with faster chips that improved overall performance. That's finally started to happen; AMD announced two new chips today -- the quad-core FX-4170 with a 4.2GHz base clock speed / 4.3GHz Turbo mode, and the six-core FX-6200 at 3.8GHz stock / 4.1GHz Turbo.

Both of the new parts are clocked ~15% faster than the FX-4100 and FX-6100 and may offer a slightly faster integrated memory controller as well; rumors indicate that the IMC is clocked at 2.2GHz, up from 2GHz. The new chips are reportedly based on the B3 stepping that's been in the works for months; current Bulldozer parts are all based on the B2 stepping.

It's good to see AMD pushing Bulldozer's clock speeds higher, but there are two indications that the benefits of doing so will be fairly limited. The first is that AMD wasn't able to hold the 95W TDP mark for either the quad-core or hexa-core variants; both the 4170 and 6200 carry a 125W TDP. The second is that while baseline clocks jumped quite a bit, Turbo Mode core speed didn't. The 4170's TM clock is 13% higher (compared to a 16% higher baseline clock) while the 6200's Turbo Mode is a modest 5% higher than its predecessors.

What this suggests is that AMD has modestly improved power consumption in the CPU's standard operating voltage, but hasn't pushed the core's absolute headroom much higher. This fits with the rumors around AMD's upcoming 8170; that core is expected to debut a baseline frequency of 3.9GHz (up ~8% from the FX-8150) with a maximum full-load Turbo Mode of 4.2GHz (7% higher).

Pricing on the FX-8120 has also been cut as of these launches, though AMD didn't provide information on how much. In the wake of Bulldozer's launch, the FX-8120 and six-core 6100 variants were compared unfavorably with AMD's older six-core X6 1090T and 1100T. AMD appears to have killed retail shipments of these older parts; neither the 1090T or X6 1100T are widely available, and prices have gone up significantly compared to the 1100T's $180 price tag six months ago.

The FX-4170 and FX-6200 are showing up online for ~$140 and ~$180, compared to $109 and $149 for the older FX-4100 and FX-6100 parts. The most important achievement of these new parts is that they should at least achieve performance parity with AMD's older 45nm chips. At 4.2GHz, the FX-4170 is clocked 17% faster than the old Phenom II X4 975 Deneb, while the only hexa-core Phenom II X6 left in stock at NewEgg is the Z6 1045T at 2.7GHz. If the 8170 launches at the expected clock speeds, it should be able to match/exceed the X6 1100T in a similar fashion.