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Last year's launch of AMD's FX processors was honestly disappointing. The Bulldozer CPU cores that were bundled into each Zambezi chip were hardly power efficient and in many areas couldn't significantly outperform AMD's previous generation platform. Look beyond the direct AMD comparison and the situation looked even worse. In our conclusion to last year's FX-8150 review I wrote the following:

"Single threaded performance is my biggest concern, and compared to Sandy Bridge there's a good 40-50% advantage the i5 2500K enjoys over the FX-8150. My hope is that future derivatives of the FX processor (perhaps based on Piledriver) will boast much more aggressive Turbo Core frequencies, which would do wonders at eating into that advantage."

The performance advantage that Intel enjoyed at the time was beyond what could be erased by a single generation. To make matters worse, before AMD could rev Bulldozer, Intel already began shipping Ivy Bridge - a part that not only increased performance but decreased power consumption as well. It's been a rough road for AMD over these past few years, but you have to give credit where it's due: we haven't seen AMD executing this consistently in quite a while. As promised we've now had multiple generations of each platform ship from AMD. Brazos had a mild update, Llano paved the way for Trinity which is now shipping, and around a year after Zambezi's launch we have Vishera: the Piledriver based AMD FX successor.

At a high level, Vishera swaps out the Bulldozer cores from Zambezi and replaces them with Piledriver. This is the same CPU core that is used in Trinity, but it's optimized for a very different purpose here in Vishera. While Trinity had to worry about working nicely in a laptop, Vishera is strictly a high-end desktop/workstation part. There's no on-die graphics for starters. Clock speeds and TDPs are also up compared to Trinity.

CPU Specification Comparison
CPU Manufacturing Process Cores Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Vishera 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
AMD Zambezi 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
Intel Ivy Bridge 4C 22nm 4 1.4B 160mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (6C) 32nm 6 2.27B 435mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (4C) 32nm 4 1.27B 294mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 4C 32nm 4 1.16B 216mm2
Intel Lynnfield 4C 45nm 4 774M 296mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT1) 32nm 2 504M 131mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT2) 32nm 2 624M 149mm2

Vishera is still built on the same 32nm GlobalFoundries SOI process as Zambezi, which means there isn't much room for additional architectural complexity without ballooning die area, and not a whole lot of hope for significantly decreasing power consumption. As a fabless semiconductor manufacturer, AMD is now at GF's mercy when it comes to moving process technology forward. It simply has to make 32nm work for now. Piledriver is a light evolution over Bulldozer, so there's actually no substantial increase in die area compared to the previous generation. Cache sizes remain the same as well, which keeps everything roughly the same. These chips are obviously much larger than Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge parts, but Intel has a full node advantage there which enables that.

Piledriver is a bit more power efficient than Bulldozer, which enables AMD to drive Vishera's frequency up while remaining in the same thermal envelope as Zambezi. The new lineup is in the table below:

CPU Specification Comparison
Processor Codename Cores Clock Speed Max Turbo L2/L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8 4.0GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $199
AMD FX-8150 Zambezi 8 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $183
AMD FX-8320 Vishera 8 3.5GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $169
AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 8 3.1GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $153
AMD FX-6300 Vishera 6 3.5GHz 4.1GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $132
AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 6 3.3GHz 3.9GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $112
AMD FX-4300 Vishera 4 3.8GHz 4.0GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $122
AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 4 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $101

The table above says it all. TDPs haven't changed, cache sizes haven't changed and neither have core counts. Across the board Vishera ships at higher base frequencies than the equivalent Zambezi part, but without increasing max turbo frequency (in the case of the 8-core parts). The 6 and 4 core versions get boosts to both sides, without increasing TDP. In our Trinity notebook review I called the new CPU core Bulldozed Tuned. The table above supports that characterization.

It's also important to note that AMD's pricing this time around is far more sensible. While the FX-8150 debuted at $245, the 8350 drops that price to $199 putting it around $40 less than the Core i5 3570K. The chart below shows where AMD expects all of these CPUs to do battle:

AMD's targets are similar to what they were last time: Intel's Core i5 and below. All of the FX processors remain unlocked and ship fully featured with hardware AES acceleration enabled. Most Socket-AM3+ motherboards on the market today should support the new parts with nothing more than a BIOS update. In fact, I used the same ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard I used last year (with a much newer BIOS) for today's review:

The Test

For more comparisons be sure to check out our performance database: Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS Maximus V Gene (Intel Z77)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Samsung SSD 830 (512GB)
Memory: 4 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (Windows 8)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64/Windows 8 Pro x64

General Performance
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  • g101 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Oh look, it's the highly ignorant fool CeriseCogburn...

    You make demonstrably false statements on every single AMD article and merely provide further proof of your ignorance. Honestly, if you're unable to find anything better to do than post idiotic comments on every anadtech article, I have a suggestion: EDUCATE YOURSELF, LITTLE DIPSHIT.
    Reply
  • Desolator2B - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Dude, seriously? Did you know the current world record for overclocking is held on an AMD processor? AMD is incredible when overclocking, especially super cooling, yes it may be a bit slower than Intel, but damn you can't beat AMDs price.

    You're a bit of an idiot mate.
    Reply
  • JrPgFaN83 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    i couldn't have said it better myself mate. This response made the read worth it. Reply
  • vench - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    think about this..
    which one is better an eight unlock cores as AMD called it.
    or 4 cores with hyperthreading technology?

    4 cores with hyperthreading it will act like an eight cores because single core will act like two cores as claimed by intel but bear in mind there would be a mathematical complex going on behind intels hyperthreading. but WHAT if you unlock this thing so it would go freely to eight cores as claim by AMD?

    THAT IS THE REASON WHY AMD HOLDS THE WORLD RECORD FOR OVERCLOCKING BECAUSE THEY MANAGED TO UNLOCK THIS THING.
    IF INTEL WILL PRODUCE 8 CORES CPU..THEN AMD WILL MAKE 16 CORES..AND THEN AMD STILL WIL BE THE WINNER FOR WORLD RECORD..

    ON THIS POINT OF VIEW JUST BE OPEN MINDED.
    DO NOT ACT LIKE YOU REALLY SICK WHEN ITS NOT BECAUSE YOU WOULD MAKE YOURSELF LIKE TWICE MORON AND TWICE IDIOT.
    JUST TAKE AN ADVICE FROM G101. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

    I USED TO BE AN INTEL USER.. BUT WHEN I'M BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND THIS TREND..I WOULD LOVE AMD AS THEY LOVE CONSUMER'S POCKET (AGAIN- BE OPEN MIND. ITS MY OPINION)
    Reply
  • sleekz - Thursday, May 02, 2013 - link

    CAPS. The world overclocking record is meaningless. You can't compare clock speed across brands and AMD cores are half-cores. They still can't compete with intel and the circuit size is several years behind, which is why they consume so much power. AMD has given up in the enthusiast CPU market, and is losing money. Reply
  • JrPgFaN83 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    AMEN! Reply
  • Mombasa69 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    My AMD Vishera 8350 blows my ghay i7 3770k out the water and was HALF THE PRICE, says it all really. Reply
  • Etnos - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    I hardly think you own intel shares so the fact you care so much is pretty sad.

    very sad.
    Reply
  • Idiot10 - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    Here comes the 2500K-loving Intel mercenary know-it-all-about-processors again, and yet he cannot sleep to know that there are chips out there who can outperform his 2500K. SOB!!!! Reply
  • Idiot10 - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    Here comes Mr. ChariseHogburn again. the all-knowing Intel mercenary processor expert, who thinks nothing can beat his beloved 2500K. SOB!!!! Reply

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