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Back then, a year ago, when we first met the desktop Zambezi processors, it already felt like AMD Bulldozer didn’t really end up in a good spot. We can’t say that AMD’s microarchitecture is flawed. On the contrary, it is very interesting and is capable of delivering very high level of performance in heavy multi-threaded tasks. But the problem is that desktop environments usually require good performance during low-threaded and uneven loads, and this isn’t Bulldozer’s strength, unfortunately.

A year has passed and instead of the original Bulldozer microarchitecture, AMD’s flagship desktop processors acquired the new Piledriver microarchitecture. However, the incompatibility between the typical desktop tasks and the potential of the AMD processors are still there. New FX CPUs, just like their predecessors, cope really well with video transcoding, complex calculations, 3D modeling tasks, but at the same time fall seriously behind their competitors in typical general purpose tasks and games. In other words, even after the microarchitecture refresh AMD FX remain an excellent option for inexpensive workstations, but aren’t that attractive as universal processors for home and gaming systems.

Of course, AMD engineers tried very hard to fix these inconsistencies while working on their new Piledriver microarchitecture. And a lot of things in Vishera look much more attractive than they were in the previous-generation Zambezi. The new processors are 15% faster, more overclockable and are very appealingly priced. However, in our opinion, the new FX could be a little more versatile, like the competing Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. The performance of contemporary Intel processors is good under any type of operational load, while AMD’s solution works great in some cases and pretty poorly in others. Moreover, energy-efficiency is another bottleneck of the FX processor family. Unlike Ivy Bridge based platforms, Socket AM3+ system consume about 1.5-2 times more power.

Nevertheless, we have no doubts that the new processor design keep Socket AM3+ alive and well for at least another year until the new Steamroller microarchitecture comes out. Hopefully, these new processors will finally free flagship desktop AMD processors from their bottlenecks. Particularly, since AMD FX is a pretty good option for some users these days. Some may be excited about their high performance in certain resource-hungry tasks, comparable with the performance of Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs; others may be drawn to their overclocking potential; some users will love their affordable price, and some may feel that time has finally come to upgrade their old Socket AM3+ system. Either way, FX processors will start selling much better once they transition to Piledriver microarchitecture and this success alone will definitely be a worthy achievement for AMD.

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