Final Thoughts

In the last few years, AMD hasn't really been able to fight against Intel in the high-end CPU market. Pretty much since the release of the Nehalem microarchitecture in late 2008, Intel has held the crown of fastest CPUs and AMD has only been the best option for budget builds. Bulldozer has suffered from delays and recently AMD delayed it even more because the performance didn't meet their expectations. However, Bulldozer could have the potential to shake Intel's position in other than the budget CPU market.

According to leaked product positioning slides, Zambezi is aimed to fight against Intel's Core i5 and i7 lineups. Zambezi will feature up to eight cores, which is twice as many as i7-2600(K)'s four cores. AMD said that they won't join the Hyper-Threading club and they will deliver as many physical cores as Intel delivers physical and virtual cores combined. It looks like AMD is keeping their word, though they're only delivering half as many "FP/SSE cores". Intel will probably still provide the best single-threaded performance but AMDs aggressive approach with many physcial cores may bring them the trophy of best multi-threaded performance. We shall hopefully see this very soon.  

In the server market, AMD's role is a lot more complex. For some HPC applications, AMD offers the best performance at a much lower price. In the midrange, AMD based servers offer more cores (quad-socket) and (in most cases) higher performance for a relatively small price premium over the typical dual-socket Xeon servers. At the same time, if your applications cannot make good use of all those cores, dual-socket Xeon servers can offer a better performance/watt ratio and lower response times. In the high end, Intel Xeon E7 completely dominates, and AMD has left this market for now. In the low power market, Intel's low power Xeons offer a better performance/watt and AMD can only compete when every dollar counts. In most cases, the price of the server CPU is less important in the grand TCO scheme.

In other words, AMD really needs a server CPU with a much higher performance per core and a better performance/watt ratio. TDP Power Cap or configurable TDP helps AMD's server CPUs keep the electricity bill down by avoiding "bursty" power usage. At the same time, with their implementation, TDP Power Cap should have little effect on the real world (not pure throughput benchmarking) performance if you do not lower the TDP too much. We won't be sure until we have measured it, but it looks like a big step in the right direction: lower TCO and more predictable power usage without a (large) performance penalty.

AMD's Future Plans

Second Generation AMD Fusion lineup
Codename Krishna and Wichita Trinity Komodo Sepang Terramar
Architecture Enhanced Bobcat NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer NG Bulldozer
SOI 28nm 32nm 32nm 32nm 32nm
Core count 1-4 2-4 6-10 Up to 10 Up to 20
DX11 IGP Yes Yes No No No
Socket N/A N/A N/A C2012 G2012

Bulldozer will make its way to mainstream CPUs in 2012. Llano's successor, Trinity, will feature up to four next-generation Bulldozer cores. Next-generation (NG) in this context appears to mean that AMD will tweak the architecture because the CPUs will still be manufactured using 32nm SOI. Zambezi's successor, Komodo, will again increase the core count and make it up to 10.

As for the server market, AMD's approach will be a bit more aggressive. AMD will again increase the amount of cores to up to 20 NG Bulldozer cores. Valencia's successor will be 10-core Sepang and Interlagos' will be 20-core Terramar. The server CPUs will also feature PCIe 3.0 support.

Krishna and Wichita will also replace AMD's current Ontario and Zacate APUs. There will be a die shrink from 40nm to 28nm so at this point, Krishna and Wichita look the most interesting from the 2nd gen Fusion lineup. Doubling the cores should yield a nice performance boost in heavily threaded scendarios, though single-threaded performance is still a sore spot for Bobcat compared to other architectures.

Bulldozer's Power Management


View All Comments

  • mino - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    "single-threaded performance is still a sore spot for Bobcat compared to other architectures"

    What "other architectures" ??? To my knowledge the is exactly ZERO other architectures with faster single-threaded performance at the power level Bobcat plays at.

    The faster "competitors" are either running at their lowes-feasible power levels (SB, C2D) or are vastly slower (Atom, A15 etc.).
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 16, 2011 - link

    We never said "at the same power level". Bobcat is much faster than Atom, but Core 2 beats Bobcat silly, and Core 2010/2011 are even faster. Bobcat is fine for low power, low performance, decent multimedia; that's not the same as being good for general use. Reply
  • GaMEChld - Saturday, July 16, 2011 - link

    Why even go to Intel for the comparison? Bobcat loses to the old STARS cores too doesn't it? Athlon II, Phenom II, Llano? Generally it's assumed that comparisons are done between competing products for a given market or price point.

    What sense would there be in reviewing an Intel Atom chip, and then taking the time to say, well, sadly the Intel Atom does not have as good single-threaded performance as the Core i7 990X Super Jeebus Edition. Or that the Radeon 5450 does not offer superior graphics performance to the GTX 590? Well, duh!
  • 529th - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    AMD seems to be highlighted alot around the word "server"

    .. just not my market.. what a let down for the pursuit in competitive CPUs for Intel desktop

    fee nom - whutever
  • shmmy - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Wow really? Do you people really need to nitpick the details on stuff thats not even out yet? 8 cores 10 cores who the heck cares get back to work slackers! :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    Core 2 ULV (all the CULV stuff from early 2010) already offered us power levels similar to Bobcat, with better per-core performance. What it didn't offer was the GPU side of things, which is why Optimus was useful. As the article here states, "single-threaded performance is still a sore spot for Bobcat compared to other architectures", it seemed fairly obvious that we're discussing Bobcat in the greater market, not just Bobcat in low-power uses. And yet, Mino went and complained regardless.

    For those interested in a few comparisons:

    Core 2 SU7200 @ 1.3GHz w/GMA4500
    (ASUS UL80Vt:
    PCMark Vantage: 2993
    CB10 1CPU: 1643
    CB10 SMP: 3138
    x264 1st Pass: 18.12 FPS
    x264 2nd Pass: 4.5 FPS
    Idle Power: ~5.94W
    Internet Power: ~8.59W
    H.264 Power: ~13.96W

    Core i3-330UM @ 1.2GHz w/HD Graphics
    (ASUS UL80Jt:
    PCMark Vantage: 3558
    CB10 1CPU: 1724
    CB10 SMP: 3859
    x264 1st Pass: 21.45 FPS
    x264 2nd Pass: 5.67 FPS
    Idle Power: ~7.91W
    Internet Power: ~10.5W
    H.264 Power: ~17.68W

    AMD E-350 @ 1.6GHz w/6310M
    (MSI X370:
    PCMark Vantage: 2511
    CB10 1CPU: 1158
    CB10 SMP: 2175
    x264 1st Pass: 13.96 FPS
    x264 2nd Pass: 3.43 FPS
    Idle Power: ~7.47W
    Internet Power: ~8.81W
    H.264 Power: ~13.57W

    So when Mino says that "to my knowledge the is exactly ZERO other architectures with faster single-threaded performance at the power level Bobcat plays at", he is either uninformed, ignorant, or totally biased. CULV way back in late 2009 offered 42% higher single-threaded performance than Bobcat in early 2011, with lower power requirements. Core 2010 ULV improved performance further at the cost of power requirements: it's 49% faster but uses 6% to 30% more power than Bobcat. Either way, performance per watt both CULV and i3-ULV do better than Bobcat. They also have much worse IGPs, so it's not a complete loss for AMD.

    Even so, architecturally I don't think Bobcat has a lot of legs. Going quad-core does nothing for single-threaded performance, and multi-threaded performance on a low power design is sort of silly to discuss. It's the same problem I have with ARM: sure, they can do low power really well, but what happens when you need more performance? For many tasks, a 2.0GHz dual-core ARM is no worse than a 2.0GHz quad-core ARM, and in raw computer performance even Atom is likely faster than ARM right now.

    Windows 8 running on ARM is going to be interesting; can the chip even handle a full OS like Windows? Will it do so while still offering good battery life? I'd say Bobcat is the bare minimum performance we need for a full Windows OS to work well, and Bobcat is at least twice as fast as Atom. Will ARM manage to equal Bobcat next year? I wouldn't bet on it, but maybe I'll be wrong.
  • zgoodbbb - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Women's fashion, men's personality + shoes

    Travel bagthat eye-catching jacket + super pack free shipping
  • morohmoroh - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    i have two hand

    5 finger in my left hand and 5 finger in right hand

    i cannot grab a 1 rock with 1 finger , i still can grab it with boths hand with each 2 finger but still hard then decided grab a rock with 3 or 5 finger

    now i have 8 hand and 40 finger how s bout that?

    if i can grab a rock with invisible hand and finger it look like a magic

    my question is core = brain or core = hand with finger?

  • Cyberius - Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - link

    I hope bulldozer for desktop has tdp power cap included in the amd overdrive utility like the radeon 6900 catalyst utility. That would be a great option for us. Reply

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