New Bulldozer processor microarchitecture introduced by AMD two months ago made a very weak impression and turned out a major disappointment for many of us. The performance of the flagship eight-core CPU based on it, the FX-8150, proved to be not only lower than that of the competing quad-core Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 LGA 1155 processors, but sometimes even lower than that of AMD’s own six-core Phenom II X6. Nevertheless, despite disastrous performance numbers in comparative tests, the manufacturer has no intention to give up this microarchitecture. It has not only settled in the contemporary desktop and server AMD CPUs, but will be also used later on in the upcoming next-generation products, such as traditional CPUs as well as hybrid APUs.
Even though Bulldozer doesn’t looks like a significant step forward from the consumer standpoint, it still gives AMD engineers room for optimizations and enhancements. The old K10 microarchitecture has been obviously squeezed dry by now. For example, as we can see from Llano processors, even the transition to 32 nm process doesn’t have any positive effect anymore. Therefore, AMD bet on Bulldozer in the attempt to adapt new production technology for all types of products. In fact, the production of Bulldozer based processors is more profitable than the production of the six-core Phenom II X6 CPUs, which have a larger semiconductor die.
The old 45 nm processors from Phenom II and Athlon II families are literally living out their last days. AMD will only accept orders for these processors until the end of this year and after that they will be considered outdated. Instead, the company will offer either hybrid A-series Llano processors, or different FX CPU modifications with Bulldozer microarchitecture, which will become much more numerous by then.
It is quite logical that the FX processor family coming to replace Phenom II should be at least as versatile as the latter. Although Bulldozer has eight-core structure, the processor family should also include many modifications with fewer computational cores. Therefore, it is not surprising that in AMD will be in vesting a lot of time and effort in expanding the FX lineup, so that by early 2012 we could have the following desktop variety available to us:
Will the Bulldozer modifications with four and six computational cores be able to successfully replace Phenom II? Taking into account the performance numbers demonstrated by the eight-core FX-8150 processors in our earlier test session, it may be very difficult to definitively answer this question. But luckily, the first quad- and six-core Bulldozer processors already made their way to the stores that is why we took the opportunity to investigate the performance of the junior AMD FX CPU models, which we are happy to share with you today.