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AMD Hardware

AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws? 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-piles-and-dozing-bulls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AMD just officially took the wraps off Vishera, its next generation of FX processors. Vishera is Piledriver-based like the recently-released Trinity APUs, and the successor to last year's Bulldozer CPU architecture. The octo-core flagship FX-8350 runs at 4.0 GHz and is listed for just $195. The 8350 is followed by the 3.5 GHz FX-8320 at $169. Hexa-core and quad-core parts are also launching, at $132 and $122, respectively. So how does Vishera stack up to Intel's lineup? The answer to that isn't so simple. The FX-8350 can't even beat Intel's previous-generation Core i5-2550K in single-threaded applications, yet it comes very close to matching the much more expensive ($330), current-gen Core i7-3770K in multi-threaded workloads. Vishera's weak point, however, is in power efficiency. On average, the FX-8350 uses about 50 W more than the i7-3770K. Intel aside, the Piledriver-based FX-8350 is a whole lot better than last year's Bulldozer-based FX-8150 which debuted at $235. While some of this has to do with performance improvements, that fact that AMD is asking $40 less this time around certainly doesn't hurt either. At under $200, AMD finally gives the enthusiast builder something to think about, albeit on the low-end." Reviews are available at plenty of other hardware sites, too. Pick your favorite: PC Perspective, Tech Report, Extreme Tech, Hot Hardware, AnandTech, and [H]ard|OCP.
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AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?

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  • Re:How about idle?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:01PM (#41743703)

    Idle power seems pretty competitive with Intel's Core offerings. Anand found little difference and attributed it to their selection of a power-hungry motherboard.

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:09PM (#41743777) Journal

    These chips "excel" at big, heavily threaded workloads. Which is to say that they can beat similarly priced Intel chips that are simply up-clocked laptop parts. Move up to a hyperthreaded 3770K (still a laptop part) and Vishera usually loses. Overclock that 3770K to be on-par with the Vishera clocks while still using massively less power than Vishera and the 3770K wins practically every benchmark.

      Unfortunately, if you *really* care about those workloads (as in money is on the line) then Intel has the LGA-2011 parts that are in a completely different universe than Vishera, including using less total power and being much much better at performance/watt to boot. I'm not even talking about the $1000 chips either, I'm talking about the sub $300 3820 that wins nearly every multi-threaded benchmark, not to mention that $500 3930K that wins every one by a wide margin.

        So if you want to play games (which is what 90% of people on Slashdot really care about): Intel is price competitive with AMD and you'll have a lower-power system to boot. If you *really* care about heavily-multithreaded workloads: Intel is price competitive because the initial purchase price turns into a rounding error compared to the potential performance upside and long-term power savings you get with Intel.

          Vishera is definitely better than Bulldozer, but AMD still has a long long way to go in this space.

  • Re:How about idle?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:14PM (#41743845)

    So true. AMD isn't competitive energetically in any way anymore, but the desktop is probably the only place while it doesn't matter. When you're thinking mobile, saving energy is a priority. On huge server farms, little relative gains can mean a tangible different in absolute numbers. But on desktops, their difference is about a light bulb, at load, and hardly anything when idle. And with PSUs under 350W being incresingly harder to find and an FX-8350-based system only gobbling about 200W at its most intensive, it's probably "low enough" power consumption for most people.

  • tl;dr version (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:24PM (#41743983)

    New AMD processor, higher clocks than the last one but no massive improvements performance-wise. Still rocks at multi-threaded, integer-only workloads, still sucks at single-threaded or floating-point performance, still uses a huge amount of power. AMD giving up on the high end, their top-end parts are priced against the i5 series, not the i7. Since Intel's overpricing stuff, they're still roughly competitive. Might be good for server stuff, maybe office desktops if they can get the power down, but not looking good for gaming. Overall mood seems to be "AMD isn't dead yet, but they've given up on first place".

    There. Now you don't need to read TFAs.

  • by coder111 (912060) <coder&rrmail,com> on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:25PM (#41743999)
    I've read through some of the reviews. It looks like a nice CPU with a bit too high power usage for my taste.

    And please take benchmark results with a pinch of salt- most of them are compiled with Intel compiler, and will have lower results on AMD CPUs just because Intel compiler will disable a lot of optimizations on AMD CPUs.

    I don't know of any site which would have Java application server, MySQL/PostgreSQL, python/perl/ruby, apache/PHP, GCC/llvm benchmarks under Linux. Video transcoding or gaming on Windows is really skewed and nowhere near to what I do with my machine.

    --Coder
  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:52PM (#41744307)

    Same here. I built a Bulldozer machine for compiling projects in VMs last year and it works very nicely. If Intel had had a CPU with ECC memory and hardware virtualization support at a reasonable price I would probably have bought it, but I would have needed at least a $500 Xeon for that, with a more expensive motherboard, and I wouldn't be able to overclock it. For the same performance I have now I would probably have needed a $1k CPU.

  • Re:How about idle?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @03:00PM (#41744395)

    I think the biggest factor for your home desktop is noise - it takes a lot more airflow to remove 125W of heat than 77W of heat.

    Larger fans with slower rotational speed.

  • SATSQ (Score:5, Informative)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @03:12PM (#41744533)

    AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?

    No. It still guzzles power like crazy compared to Sandy/Ivy Bridge, and its single-threaded performance still sucks royally. (And that's still very important since many, many programs cannot and will not ever support full multithreading.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @03:14PM (#41744557)

    Local storage is a must for performance

    This is hyperbole. If what you're doing is mostly CPU or Memory intensive and requires very little disk activity having fast local storage isn't going to help much, if at all.

    Besides, apparently it isn't a must for the grandparent as he stated he doesn't "need massive performance for a test lab."

    Don't get me wrong, using an SSD to provide storage for a handful of VMs is a great idea (massive read/write IOPs), but it isn't necessary.

  • by lopgok (871111) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @03:45PM (#41744969)
    By rare, you mean all Asus motherboards. You have heard of Asus? I presume they are in the consumer space? Look at any AM3+ motherboard, or even AM3 or AM2+. All of them support ECC.
  • Re:How about idle?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @04:39PM (#41745629) Journal

    The problem, and as someone that has been selling AMD exclusively since I found out about Intel bribery and compiler rigging really hurts, is they are going ass backwards when it comes to design. they are betting everything on having as many cores as they can, even when the cores are weak, when most people frankly aren't even slamming a dual or triple, much less a hexacore.

    You see the problem is this: When we had the MHz wars it was easy for programs to take advantage of better single core performance but now that we've (IMHO) gone off the rails with number of cores what we are seeing is frankly a LOT of the software people use every day? Really doesn't spawn that many threads. Heck even games have trouble using more than a couple without running into sync issues.

    Frankly a better choice would have been less cores but give those cores crazy single threaded IPC, in fact I would argue the "perfect CPU" but be one with one or two insanely powerful cores and then 4 to 6 lesser cores to handle background tasks and an OS who understood the layout so it could schedule appropriately.

    Instead what AMD did with Bulldozer was to give us a huge number of really weak underperforming cores, in fact it reminded me of Intel's Larrabee GPU in that sticking a whole bunch of weak CPUs was supposed to be "good enough". So while I'm glad AMD seems to be pulling back from the weak cores somewhat I find it telling that on the 2 links I picked at random it looks like nobody is testing it against Phenom II anymore because i have a feeling full cores will still do good compared to the half core designed used in BD/PD.

    So while I do hope AMD rights the ship until i can say across the board "This chip is in every way better than Phenom II" I'll be sticking with the AM3+ Phenom IIs in my builds. The prices are better, Frankly the Athlon quads have been going for $80 and the Phenom Hexacores for $110 so the bang for the buck is there, and they give the average user more cores than they can use at a great price. While its good that PD isn't using more power than BD frankly BD was a hot chip to begin with so that's not saying much, and frankly even heavy multitaskers like myself have trouble keeping a 6 core fed, even a lot of video encoding software don't support 6 cores yet. Until software catches up 8 cores, heck probably 6 cores like mine, will be total overkill and when the software does catch up the changes in CPUs will make the 6 and 8 cores released today just not good. I just don't see a selling point for the BD/PD arch AMD, sorry but I don't.

  • Re:Shared FPU? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OneAhead (1495535) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @10:19PM (#41748105)
    I can't believe people keep on complaining about the bulldozer's FP performance. Does nobody realize the shared floating point unit is a 256-bit one, TWICE AS WIDE as the usual 128-bit? Also, assuming you're an HPC user, did you run actual benchmarks? Because we did, and for our (only modestly parallelizable) HPC workload, compiled with a bleeding-edge compiler (not Intel) that supports AVX and running on a bleeding-edge Linux kernel, Bulldozer was remarkably competitive with Intel's offerings at the time, with Interlagos and Westmere getting about the same amount of useful work done per clock cycle. There are some HPC benchmarks on AMDs website that seem very unlikely in light of the mainstream press. However, in light of our own benchmark results, they seem quite reasonable (although we never quite could make it look that good for AMD; probably because AMD didn't go to the same lengths to squeeze the maximum performance out of the Intel systems). Either way, AMD simply blew Intel away on a per-node-price basis, even when compared to Romley. All the way, I was the one arguing that "we should try Intels" based on reviews I saw online, but once we got all the benchmark results in, I simply couldn't argue anymore.

    Also, if AMD's FP performance is truly that abysmal, please explain this [dell.com]? AMD bribed Dell more than Intel so that they now market Bulldozer-based Opterons as "excellent for oil and gas exploration, scientific and medical research, video rendering and other challenging HPC projects"???

    Of course, this is all for a very specific workload and may not hold for all HPC workloads, but I have a strong feeling that even generally spoken, the Bulldozer's FP performance for HPC applications is just fine. It's just that most FP-intensive applications used in most of the benchmarks we're seeing in "end-user" space are not compiled to take full advantage of it and/or not running on an Operating System that takes full advantage of it and/or not very relevant test cases for the Bulldozer's parallel HPC potential. For example, one of the things we found out is that Intel's frequency scaling is more aggressive than AMD's, so Intel suffers badly if you put all the cores on a die to work at once. Also, Intel's improved HyperThreading still ain't worth shit if you saturate the FP units, while AMD's "clustered multithreading" succeeds to squeeze out a significant advantage owing to the fact that not all of our FP code is easily vectorizable so that sharing the 256-bit FP unit between 2 execution threads works better than trying to keep it busy with 1 thread's vectorized instructions.

    /rambling rant

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