So, lets get this straight – AMD’s Bulldozer isn’t the all-singing, all-dancing savior the brand needed to get it back to the glory Athlon days. In fact, enthusiasts are better advised to stick to their Phenom II guns and wait for the inevitable revision in a year’s time where its suddenly revealed that AMD could “squeeze” more performance from a “redesigned” chip on the same die with the same nanotechnology process. Everyone’s really eyeing Piledriver and the performance bonuses that promises to bring – which kind of makes Bulldozer the ugly duckling right now.
“Old games running at low resolutions, for example, are hardly worth running (beyond their value as synthetics, that is). That’s why we spent a few days testing the hardware the way we would use it. And, at the end, we saw little to no improvement from the evolutionary changes implemented by Microsoft and some of AMD’s motherboard partners to help augment performance.”
While I appreciate the effort the engineers went through to create a new product, the marketing team just can’t be told to call a stick, a stick. AMD’s top dog, the FX8150 is heralded as a true octo-core. This is correct in a sense but it’s really just a quad-core with some fancy hyper-threading, for now.
In the future though, we may see marked improvements in Windows 8 with Bulldozer processors, and even perhaps a few wins over Intel. Windows 8 will use the modules more efficiently as proper, individual multi-core CPUs, and threads will no longer be parked on the incorrect core. FX processors are still good bang-for-your-buck, but it’s a bit like buying a Subaru BRZ and comparing it to a Ferrari 458 – it’ll be fun, but it’ll always come second. And recent announcements by AMD may just convince more people that this will be AMD’s “Business as usual” for the near future.
On its recent Financial Analyst Day, the company showed the public that it would be focusing on areas where margins and market share gains would be best: their APU lineup, and server-side computing. AMD has traditionally had mostly lackluster performance in the server market, kept alive only with the fact that their previous models were quite power-efficient and reasonably competent – focusing on that area should be a priority.
In addition, their APU lineup leaves no room for doubt. If you’ve ever used a Fusion-based notebook you’ll know that the graphics component allows their APUs to comfortably leapfrog Intel’s Atom range since a lot of processing done today is reliant on the graphics card to provide the muscle (games, movies, your web browser). GPGPU is also slowly becoming more important in the everyday life of a notebook/desktop PC user, and we’ll definitely see more power users maximising the potential offered by a Brazos/Trinity-based netbook/notebook in the coming months.
However, my heart goes out to the desktop enthusiasts who crave a company intent on creating a new performance king. It’s almost as if the company is satisfied with coming in second place for the crown, and I hope they still keep enthusiasts in mind. Their announcements included kind words that promised a renewed focus on desktop performance, but it pales in comparison to the broad plans they have envisaged for the mobile, server and embedded segment in 2012.