A year ago AMD introduced their principally new Bulldozer microarchitecture and desktop processors based on it. However, there wasn’t much to be raving about: the company still didn’t manage to catch up with Intel’s microprocessor architectures in efficiency, so at that point AMD remained behind, at least in the high-performance segment. However, no one was ready to give up on AMD yet, and here is why.
First of all, Bulldozer is the first version of a radically new processor design. And it was quite natural that it wasn’t all so polished off and optimized yet. For example, the current high-performance Intel processors are already using the fourth generation of the Core microarchitecture that is why it is quite logical that it boasts very impressive efficiency at this point. AMD engineers haven’t yet had time to fix or improve things about their design, although there is a lot of opportunity for optimizations in Bulldozer. Therefore, for the next few years, while the fresh AMD microarchitecture continues to accumulate improvements and to mature, the performance of processors based on it could increase significantly. By the way, this is what they made clear during the original launch. According to the engineers, the performance of high-end AMD products should improve by at least 10-15% per year with each new iteration of processor design improvements.
Secondly, despite all the concerns about the first CPUs with Bulldozer microarchitecture, they undoubtedly have quite a few great things going on in them, which can eventually pay off big. The design concept of contemporary high-performance AMD products implies the use of a larger number of simplified computing cores working at higher frequencies. Keeping in mind the ever-growing popularity of parallel calculations, this approach should one day produce great results. Therefore, AMD engineers have a very good reason to remain loyal to their unique strategy.
The only real threat to the Bulldozer’s successors could be the fact that AMD may run out of persistence and willpower to fully perfect these products. The company’s current market situation is not very favorable and there is massive restructuring going on, where development of high-performance desktop processors I not a top priority task. Of course, this microarchitecture is currently also used in the company’s hybrid products, so it won’t sink into total oblivion. However, such change of primary targeting may also shift the overall focus from performance to energy-efficiency, which may be fatal for the higher-end desktop segment.
Nevertheless, let’s not start panicking ahead of time. So far there is no indication that AMD decided to give up the high-end segment. Moreover, today the company is launching desktop processors on Piledriver microarchitecture – an enhanced modification of their Bulldozer, which should deliver the promised annual performance boost.
To be more exact, Piledriver microarchitecture is not really that new. It has been used for a while in the company’s hybrid processors known as Trinity in mobile products as well as in Socket FM2 platform. However, this is exactly the case when the use of an APU doesn’t let the microarchitecture to really shine to the utmost of its potential. Trinity processors have a limited number of computing cores, do not have an L3 cache and their clock speeds are not at the highest. Therefore, they are not really representative of the true potential of the new microarchitecture.
The traditional desktop CPUs on Piledriver microarchitecture are a much more interesting animal. They are going to be the topic of our today’s detailed discussion. In our today’s review we will talk about the new AMD processors also known as Vishera, which continue the FX family of products established by the Zambezi processors on Bulldozer microarchitecture. Vishera are destined to hold AMD’s positions in the desktop segment during the upcoming holiday season and for almost the entire next year, i.e. until AMD is ready to roll out their next design aka Steamroller.