AMD launches Piledriver-powered FX processors

October 23, 2012 // 10:11 a.m.

Tags: #32nm #4ghz #am3 #amd #bulldozer #cpu #eight-core #four-core #overclocking #piledriver #six-core #vishera

AMD has formally launched its AM3+ Piledriver-based 'Vishera' FX-series processors, aimed at the enthusiast market that its Trinity-based A-series APUs simply cannot reach.

The top-end FX-8350 is AMD's highlight: an eight-core chip, designed to go head-to-head with Intel's i5-3570K, the FX-8350 boasts a 4GHz clockspeed boosting to 4.2GHz under Turbo Core conditions. Each core has 1MB of L2 cache arranged in shared 2MB chunks across paired cores, while the chip boasts a total of 8MB of L3 cache. As is common with AMD's high-end parts, the new FX processors are fully multiplier unlocked for overclocking purposes.

For buyers on a budget, AMD's answer to Intel's i5-3450 is the FX-8320: again an eight-core part, the FX-8320 is clocked down to 3.5GHz with 4GHz available under Turbo Core conditions. Otherwise, it shares the same 8MB of L3 cache and fully unlocked clock multiplier.

From there, it's time to get into the lower end of the spectrum. The FX-6300 is a six-core part running at 3.5GHz and boosting to 4.1GHz under Turbo Core, but retains the same 1MB of L2 cache per core and 8MB L3 total and is designed to compete with Intel's i5-2300. The FX-4300, meanwhile, drops the core count to four but increases clock speed to 3.8GHz - 4GHz under Turbo Core - with 1MB of L2 cache per core and 4MB L3 cache total. Both models are, again, unlocked.

With Piledriver, AMD claims to have addressed many of the concerns with its Bulldozer architecture. Performance has been boosted by around 15 per cent for the same clockspeed, but the chips share the same 32nm process as their predecessors. It's clear from AMD's positioning of the chips against the Core i5 and i3 series, however, that the performance tweaks to the microarchitecture still aren't enough to give Intel's top-end Core i7 family a run for its money.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind: AMD is putting each of the parts onto the market at a significantly reduced price compared to the target Intel chips, giving cost-conscious consumers a reason to defect to the red camp. As programmers start developing natively for multi-core processors, the benefits of AMD's eight-core chips over Intel's rival four-core parts should become apparent - but, for now, AMD will remain lagging behind its giant rival in raw performance stakes.

Full UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, with initial indications being that AMD will price the top-end FX-8350 below the £150 mark.

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