Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology
By launching several different desktop Bulldozer modifications with various number of computational cores, AMD is putting up a very wide front. All four contemporary FX processors have such different prices that they can be classified as belonging to completely different price categories. Therefore, we had to include a pretty vast number of competing products in our performance comparison featuring X-8150, FX-8120, FX-6100 and FX-4100 processors.
We are going to compare the eight-core desktop Bulldozer against a six-core Phenom II X6 1100T and top LGA 1155 quad-core processor from the Core i5 series. FX-6100 will be competing against mainstream Phenom II X6 and junior Core i5 CPUs. The price of FX-4100 suggests that we have to compare it against Phenom II X4 and Core i3 CPUs.
However, AMD is known for their flexible pricing, and this seems to be exactly the case with the new FX processors. AMD’s marketing professionals tried to come up with such prices for the new Bulldozer products, which could make it fairly difficult to find a direct competitor for them in the Sandy Bridge camp. Only two AMD processors out of four discussed in this article have direct Intel rivals. FX-8120 is priced just like Core i5-2500, while FX-4100 is set against Core i3-2120. The other two processors, AMD FX-8150 and FX-6100, have been priced in such a way that they fall in-between Core i7 and Core i5 or Core i5 and Core i3, respectively.
As a result, we ended up using the following hardware and software components during our test session:
- AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi, 8 cores, 3.6/4.2 GHz, 8 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
- AMD FX-8120 (Zambezi, 8 cores, 3.1/4.0 GHz, 8 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
- AMD FX-6100 (Zambezi, 6 cores, 3.3/3.9 GHz, 6 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
- AMD FX-4100 (Zambezi, 4 cores, 3.6/3.8 GHz, 4 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
- AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban, 6 cores, 3.3/3.7 GHz, 3 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
- AMD Phenom II X6 1075T (Thuban, 6 cores, 3.0/3.5 GHz, 3 M? L2 + 6 MB L3);
- AMD Phenom II X4 955 (Deneb, 4 cores, 3.2 GHz, 2 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3/3.7 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i5-2320 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.0/3.3 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i3-2120 (Sandy Bridge, 2 cores + HT, 3.3 GHz, 0.5 MB L2 + 3 MB L3);
- Intel Pentium G860 (Sandy Bridge, 2 cores, 3.0 GHz, 0.5 MB L2 + 3 MB L3).
- CPU cooler: NZXT Havik 140;
- ASUS Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX + SB950);
- ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (LGA1155, Intel Z68 Express).
- 2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX) – with AMD FX and Intel Core i5 processors;
- 2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-24 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX) – with AMD Phenom II, Intel Core i3 and Intel Pentium processors.
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
- Drive: Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2).
- Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
- Intel Chipset Driver 184.108.40.2060;
- Intel Management Engine Driver 220.127.116.115;
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.8.0.1003;
- AMD Catalyst 11.11 Display Driver.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to include an update for the Windows 7 OS scheduler into the list of utilized software applications, which should allow to optimally distribute the computational threads among the cores inside the processor modules. In the meantime, the above mentioned patch is indeed in the works and, according to AMD officials, should be available in the near future. The use of this patch is expected to boost the performance of AMD FX based platforms by 5-10%.