In recent weeks it was rumoured that AMD would be launching a new processor codenamed Centurion, said to come with clock speeds of up to 5GHz out of the box. AMD has now announced two new processors at E3 2013 that appear to be the real deal.
AMD’s forte has been in multi-threaded benchmarks. The company has relied on more cores to get the job done and to its credit the plan works – today the eight-core FX-8350 hangs nicely with the Core i7-3770K and the Core i7-3930K in terms of performance in a multi-threaded environment.
But AMD’s weakness has been single-core performance, which is where Intel has traditionally dominated. Intel’s Hyper-threading technology makes one core behave like two and instead of using the extra die space for more cores the company dedicates that space to adding new hardware for new instruction sets.
A work-around for AMD would be clocking up their cores to make up for the deficit but it appears that their Turbo Core technology doesn’t work so well. Indeed, the maximum speed a single core can ramp up to is 4.2GHz. The FX-9590 and the FX-9370 aim to change that.
The processors are still part of the Vishera family which is based on the Piledriver architecture, which itself is based on Bulldozer. Like the Richland APU family, the processes by which these chips are made has matured really well, to the point where they’ve been binning parts that can operate at higher frequencies with lower voltages and better heat outputs.
In addition, like Richland, its expected that these new FX processors come with tweaked thermal outputs and a new way of managing heat and power consumption. The FX-9590, which has not been fully detailed, can boost up to 5.0GHz while the FX-9370 can ramp up to 4.7GHz. Its not clear at this moment if the chips are any different to the FX-8320 and FX-8350 which they ostensibly replace.
Below is a table that details what I expect the chips will match up to be. Please note these are not final specifications, these are what I’d expect given AMD’s recent moves with its Richland APUs and how those have improved over Trinity as well. My predictions are in Bold.
|AMD FX Specifications||FX-8320||FX-9370||FX-8350||FX-9590|
|Price (US $)||$160||$170||$190||$200|
|Base clock speed||3.5GHz||3.7GHz||4.0GHz||4.0GHz|
|Boost clock speed||4.0GHz||4.7GHz||4.2GHz||5.0GHz|
I fully expect that what AMD has really done is tweak the Turbo Boost technology to allow one or two cores to scale up in frequency for single and lightly-threaded benchmarks. I’ve seen reviews before where overclocked Vishera processors can surpass Intel’s efforts at their Turbo speeds in single-threaded benchmarks, so this is probably more AMD copying Intel than anything else.
The rumoured 220W wattage is just a bit too strange for me, though. AMD currently does well enough at stock speeds under a multi-threaded workload, so there’s no sense in raising power consumption that high and destroying what little efficiency they achieved with Piledriver. All they needed to fix was single-core performance, nothing more.
I think their boost speeds for all cores in the FX-9370 and the FX-9590 will match that of the FX-8320 and the FX-8350, 4.0GHz and 4.2GHz respectively (maybe 4.5GHz for all cores on the FX-9590, but that’s stretching it). AMD doesn’t need to fix multi-threaded performance there, it’s already damn good for a processor that retails for under $200.
AMD announced that the processors will only be available through OEMs initially and didn’t announce retail availability or pricing. Its likely that these chips will need a BIOS update for the new boost speeds to work properly and for the chip to throttle itself to the right levels based on heat readings. All things being equal, these are just slightly tweaked Vishera processors which will net AMD some extra profit if they work as intended.