by Anton Shilov
12/09/2013 | 11:10 PM
Although Advanced Micro Devices does not have any plans to update its FX-series microprocessors in 2014 and does not seem to have plans to replace them even in 2015, this does not mean that Intel is giving up the market of high-end central processing units (CPUs). Based on a recent comment made by an AMD representative, it looks like the company is looking forward hybrid high-end accelerated processing units with different types of cores.
"AMD will continue to supply AM3+ and AMD FX processors for the foreseeable future, as per AMD's official roadmap update at APU'13 [above]. Recently, AMD launched the FX-9000 series, AMD's fastest desktop processor to date. As AMD's business continues to evolve, AMD will focus on the areas of growth including support for the desktop PC enthusiast leveraging AMD's world-class processor design IP, including heterogeneous compute. AMD's FX branded products will continue to evolve and we look forward to sharing those updates in the future," said James Prior, an AMD manager of APU/CPU product reviews, in a conversation with Gamer’s Nexus web-site.
AMD’s official roadmap, which covers products due in 2013 – 2014 timeframe clearly states that AMD has no plans to replace current second-generation generation FX-series CPUs code-named Vishera with up to eight Piledriver cores till the end of 2014. AMD’s roadmap that the company allegedly demonstrates to its partners indicates that there are no plans to introduce multi-core FX-series chips featuring Steamroller or Excavator cores even in 2015.
Traditionally, AMD’s high-end FX microprocessors relied on designs originally developed for servers. Enthusiast-class central processing units feature lower core-count but higher clock-rates compared to server units. In addition, they lack certain specific functionality. AMD’s server plans for 2014 include code-named Warsaw CPU with twelve or sixteen Piledriver cores, which should feature certain design changes compared to currently-available Opteron 4300-/6300-series products. Unfortunately, it does not look like there will be consumer-class derivative from Warsaw.
The launch of AMD FX-9000-series microprocessors with 220W thermal design power this year implies that AMD still can boost performance of existing Vishera design by simply overclocking them. While this approach is a dead-end for performance-mainstream market, it clearly works for enthusiasts and boutique PC makers. Theoretically, AMD may introduce even higher-performing iterations of FX-9000-series for its fans sometimes in 2014.
Nonetheless, as AMD focuses to “support for the desktop PC enthusiast leveraging AMD's world-class processor design IP, including heterogeneous compute”, it is pretty obvious that the company’s longer-term plans include serving the high-end of the market with hybrid Fusion chips that integrate both x86 and graphics processing engines. As adoption of heterogeneous computing increases, AMD will inevitably have to integrate GPU into enthusiast-class CPUs despite of the fact that target audience of those chips use discrete graphics cards. For example, Intel Corp.’s Core i7-4770K chips that easily outperform AMD’s FX-9590 in general-purpose applications feature integrated graphics engines.
While longer-term strategic plans of AMD look more or less certain, it is still unclear when the company plans to offer something obviously more powerful than the current-gen AMD FX processors in AM3+ form-factor since neither official nor unofficial roadmaps indicate this fact.