Before every major architecture launch from AMD or NVIDIA, the companies typically hold an editor's or tech day. These events usually last about a day (sometimes two) and involve a bunch of press sitting in a conference room while they get peppered with presentations and pepper back with questions. Engineers and key architects are usually present. The goal behind these tech days is to help the press understand, at least from the manufacturer's perspective, what makes their new architecture tick. Benchmarking usually doesn't happen at these events, but typically we get hardware at the event or shortly thereafter. If you're curious, Intel doesn't typically do a tech day - that's what IDF is for.

Two weeks ago AMD held one of these tech days for its upcoming Bulldozer architecture, which will be sold under the FX brand (e.g. AMD FX-xxxx CPU). Although it'll still be a little while before I can talk about most of what transpired at the Bulldozer tech day, there is one thing I'm allowed to share today: overclocking potential.

AMD was conducting overclocking experiments at the tech day and had three different stations setup for us to look at. The first used a sub-$100 closed-loop waster cooling solution from Antec (Kühler series). I can't tell you much about the chip itself other than it is an 8-core FX processor that AMD was able to overclock to 4.8GHz using the Antec Kühler.

Next up was phase change cooling. Armed with a phase change cooler AMD pushed another 8-core FX CPU up to 5.894GHz at 1.632V.

AMD ended on its most aggressive cooling solution: liquid helium. Using liquid helium AMD was able to take Bulldozer to a new world record of 8.429GHz. The resulting overclocked frequency was high enough to get AMD's FX processor inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records for the highest frequency for a computer processor.

None of this tells us much about how Bulldozer will perform unfortunately. The most interesting number is likely the first number (4.8GHz) which gives you the upper bound of what to expect from an overclocked Bulldozer at home without any exotic cooling.

AMD recently announced it started shipping server versions of its Bulldozer CPU and that desktop parts will be available in Q4.

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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Amen to that. With these sort of clock speeds, my first thought was, "Gee, how deep are they going on the pipeline!?" I'm starting to think this could be AMD's NetBurst if they're not careful. Reply
  • Apocy - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    The liquid helium currently is the most extreme solution for cooling, due to the temperature it needs to be sustained in order to keep it in this form => resulting in extremely low temperatures.
    It was logical next step after liquid nitrogen to get cooling even below the 200 degrees Celsius.

    To answer your question - "Does it really have to be THAT cold in order to push the processor? " - yes, but this cannot be sustained for long. One thing missing here (which I'm very curious about) is the voltage it needed for these 8 Ghz :)
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    According to the CPU-Z, 2.01V+. (http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1980971), though that may not be accurate.

    As a competitive overclocker in my spare time, I of course find this veeeery interesting! :)
    Reply
  • GullLars - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    No it's not missing. They were citing around 2V for ~8GHz. The last few MHz are mostly due to cold and not volt.
    The Phenom II architecture scales better with cold than volt, i wonder if the same is true for Bulldozer.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "The most interesting number is likely the first number (4.8GHz) which gives you the upper bound of what to expect from an overclocked Bulldozer at home without any exotic cooling."

    Also, historically speaking, this also tells you where this series/core is going to top out as the manufacturer perfects the manufacturing process. I expect to see some 4.8 GHz SKU's out there by the time this core is replaced.
    Reply
  • sangyup81 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    it's interesting how you can keep pushing voltage on AMD CPUs as long as it doesn't get too hot Reply
  • INSPIREARUN - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Anand, I think it should be "water" cooling.

    "The first used a sub-$100 closed-loop [waster] cooling solution from Antec (Kühler series)"
    Reply
  • neotiger - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    AMD is already shipping Bulldozer. But they still won't let the press talk about what happened at the tech day or release any benchmark data.

    The ONLY thing they let anyone talk about is how high they can push the clockspeed using liquid helium. LOL.

    This chip has BUST written all over it.
    Reply
  • Will Robinson - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    It would seem the Bulldozer cores overclock acceptably.
    Anything over 4.5GHz for a desktop part on air would be impressive.If the IPC and floating point performance is there then AMD will have a decent rival to SB and IB.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "if". Not sure I'm quite that optimistic. :)

    I didn't expect Bulldozer to be a dynamite overclocker on air due to its complexity, so if it can realistically do 4.5GHz, that's not bad. I'm a bit concerned that their higher clocked tests are only showing a single module.

    Any word on the stepping of those Zambezis?
    Reply

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