Articles: CPU

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The recent release of AMD's Kaveri APUs is truly a landmark event for the CPU market. AMD has managed to develop and implement the concept of heterogeneous computing that allows x86 and graphics cores to process the same data. This news can be viewed from a different perspective, though. The Kaveri release means that the top-end desktop CPU market is now owned by one company. Sadly, AMD has decided to cease its work on fast desktop CPUs as is indicated by its plans for the current year. The FX series will be frozen in its current state, if not discontinued altogether, whereas the new Steamroller microarchitecture is only going to be used in AMD's affordable hybrid processors that combine up to four x86 cores and one graphics core in a single semiconductor die.

For the last few years AMD has been quite successfully selling FX series processors which didn’t incorporate a graphics core and were the company’s fastest offers. Ideologically similar to Intel’s Core Extreme Edition products, these chips were quite popular among gamers and overclockers who installed flagship discrete graphics cards in their configurations. The FX series owed its success to AMD's reasonable price policy as well as to good performance in multithreaded applications but now AMD is changing its focus from the fast multicore FX series solutions to more affordable APUs, a significant decision reflecting the company's change of priorities.

Still, even though AMD is going to put its best efforts into developing and promoting APUs (which indeed come out better than AMD's top-end desktop processors), the FX series will not be phased out right now. There are no plans for new FX models but the older ones, based on the 32nm Vishera design from 2012, will keep on selling for the next few quarters. AMD expects users to be still interested in the FX series despite its respectable age. That’s why a few months ago the company added a couple of elite Socket AM3+ products into the line-up with clock rates reaching up to 5 GHz. These are the FX-9370 and FX-9590 models. AMD’s unwillingness to introduce new manufacturing technologies and microarchitectures in the FX series makes these products quite specific. Particularly, their high TDP limits their compatibility with the infrastructure AMD had been building for years.

The new processors took a long time to reach end-users. Considering the compatibility issues, AMD at first tried to distribute the FX-9370 and FX-9590 via select partners from among system integrators, so that the new CPUs would come to the user as part of a ready-made high-end computer. This didn't work because the system integrators were not eager to deal with the FX-9370 and FX-9590 due to their high price and insufficiently high performance. So eventually AMD had to reposition these two models as ordinary Socket AM3+ products that continue the FX series in a logical way. The special status of the FX-9370 and FX-9590 used to be emphasized by their low availability, limited compatibility with mainboards and coolers, and high price (up to $1000), but now two of these factors have become irrelevant as the CPUs are available from many resellers and at more affordable prices. So again, AMD now wants to present the FX-9370 and FX-9590 as a normal continuation of the FX series. It is from this point of view that we are going to discuss these products in our today’s review.

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