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Closer Look at AMD FX-8150

AMD gave us the opportunity to check out the new Zambezi processor – FX-8150.

Its nominal clock speed is 3.6 GHz and you can find out more about it from the following CPU-Z screenshot:

Note that it uses a B2 processor stepping and it is far not the first version already. The previous modifications of the semiconductor die didn’t make it because they refused to work at the originally planned clock speeds. This is actually why the spring launch was slightly pushed back to summer and then to fall and finally took place in the middle of October.

However, the today’s frequency of 3.6 GHz doesn’t look very impressive. Both, AMD as well as Intel, have products working at higher frequencies. However, FX-8150 supports very promising Turbo Core technology, which is capable of automatically increasing the CPU clock frequency to 4.2 GHz under low load.

It is remarkable that 3.9 GHz frequency may be reached even if all the processor cores are working, but there is sufficient margin for automatic overclocking without getting beyond the power consumption and heat dissipation limits.

In idle mode Cool’n’Quiet technology lowers the clock frequency of FX-8150 processor to 1.4 GHz. The Vcore in this case drops to 0.85 V.

Testbed Configuration

We are going to compare the new eight-core AMD FX-8150 processor on Bulldozer microarchitecture against one of its predecessors – six-core Phenom II X6 as well as against competitors from Intel – quad-core Core i5-2500 and Core i7-2600. Moreover, we also added the performance numbers for the six-core Core i7-990X CPUs.

As a result, our testbeds were built using the following hardware and software components:

  • Processors:
    • AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi, 8 cores, 3.6 GHz, 8 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
    • AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (Thuban, 6 cores, 3.3 GHz, 3 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.4 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3 GHz, 1 MB L2 + 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition (Gulftown, 6 cores, 3.46 GHz, 1.5 MB L2 + 12 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: NZXT Havik 140;
  • Mainboards:
    • Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 (Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX + SB950);
    • ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (LGA1155, Intel Z68 Express);
    • Gigabyte X58A-UD5 (LGA1366, Intel X58 Express).
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX);
    • 3 x 2 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Crucial BL3KIT25664TG1608).
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
  • Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
  • Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.2.0.1030;
    • Intel Management Engine Driver 7.1.10.1065;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.6.0.1022;
    • AMD Catalyst 11.10 Display Driver.

Note that we ran all tests under the current Windows 7 version, but AMD indicates that the task manages of this OS doesn’t distribute the computational threads in the optimal way. Windows 7 prefers to primarily direct all threads to cores inside different modules. And it does in fact deliver highest relative performance, because it allows reducing the load on the shared units inside each module. However, this strategy prevents the use of turbo-modes, which could kick in if some of the dual-core processor modules were in power-saving mode.

The upcoming Windows 8 OS will work differently assigning the computational threads to cores within the same module first. As a result, AMD promises that Zambezi performance may increase by as much as 10% in some selected applications.

 
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