So, is it success or failure? I am sure most of you would love to see a clear and definite verdict here. However, things are not so simple this time and AMD Bulldozer made things really difficult for all reviewers.
The thing is that AMD revealed a totally unique approach to developing new microarchitecture. Keeping in mind that the processor performance consists of three major components, such as number of instructions per clock, core frequency and number of cores, AMD engineers shifted their priorities towards the number of cores this time. They lowered the specific core performance, but at the same time got the opportunity to create inexpensive eight-core or even more complex processors. This is a very important milestone for the server market where multi-threaded loads dominate and multi-core processors are in high demand. So, the new Bulldozer microarchitecture from AMD will most likely help the company to strengthen their positions in the high-performance server segment.
However, today we introduced to you an FX processor based on the new Bulldozer microarchitecture but designed for the desktop segment. And this is where we observed a dramatic the mismatch between Bulldozer’s hardware functionality and the needs of typical desktop applications. It is particularly frustrating that the entire marketing effort was aimed at making us believe that Bulldozer will be the rising star of the desktop market. Unfortunately, this never happened.
FX processors based on Bulldozer microarchitecture managed to show their strengths only in a small variety of common user tasks. There are very few popular applications, which would generate simple multi-threaded integer load and this is the only case when Bulldozer really performs at its best. As a result, in certain applications the new Bulldozer is not just slower than competitors from Intel, but is even slower than the previous-generation Phenom II X6. And it means that AMD didn’t succeed in launching a revolutionary desktop CPU.
In fact, FX is just another Phenom, which looks pretty good especially compared with the predecessors. Overall, FX processors are faster than Phenom II, they overclock much better and consume slightly less power, so they will be a good replacement for the CPUs on old K10 microarchitecture.
However I would like to remind you that AMD is competing not only against itself, but also against Intel. Therefore, we have to draw this unwelcome conclusion that FX processors will only be a good choice for those desktop systems that will primarily be used for video processing and transcoding. In all other cases Bulldozer processors, unfortunately, cannot compete against Sandy Bridge. The same is true for power consumption as well as overclocking. I would also like to add that AMD FX processors quite expectedly turned out a poor choice for gamers, because contemporary 3D games barely use true multi-threaded algorithms. However, I am sure that dedicated AMD fans will be able to put up with that, since the fps rate in games is in most cases limited by the graphics card, rather than processor.
In other words, the marketing success of the new FX processors will solely depend on two factors: how numerous AMD fan-club is and how smart the company will use their pricing strategies. But either way the desktop Bulldozer-based processors will hardly ever become truly popular.