AMD Bulldozer / FX-8150 Desktop Performance Review

Computer hardware enthusiasts have literally waited for years for AMD's Bulldozer architecture to come to market and we finally see this today in its desktop form, code named Zambezi, brand named AMD FX. In this article we share with you our analysis of Bulldozer's performance in synthetic benchmarks and desktop applications.


Clock per Clock - Thread per Thread

In talking with our readers many of you voiced wanting to see IPC (Instruction Per Clock) demonstrated. Needless to say, when you are working with 4 core, 6 core, and 8 core processors, some with Hyperthreading enabling computing up to 12 simultaneous threads at a time, and all of those core clocks scaling dynamically, the IPC perspective is easy to lose in translation. Honestly, given all the real world variables involved, IPC is somewhat less important than it used to be in the days of single threaded applications and single cores. Still we understand the enthusiast wanting to get a handle on IPC though, and personally so do we.

What we have devised below are three simple test scenarios that are single thread / single core aware. All of these tests were run with the processors locked at 4GHz CPU clocks with 1333MHz memory clocks. The Core i7-920 is our only multiplier locked processor so it is using an accelerated processor bus speed as well as having a memory speed advantage. (20*200MHz=4GHz / 1603MHz) The rest of our processors are unlocked and allow easy scaling of the processor multiplier in order to reach the targeted 4GHz.

Hiper Pi, is simply a GUI front end for Super Pi. Super Pi is a utility that allows you to calculate between 16 thousand and 32 million decimal places of Pi. In the benchmark below, we have timed how long it takes each processor to calculate out to 1,000,000 decimal places of Pi.

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As you can easily see, the new Bulldozer processors are not particularly strong in this age-old benchmark even compared to the AMD's previous Thuban 1100T processor. And please do understand that this is simply a benchmark and nothing more.

Cinebench 11.5 is much more like a real world content creation workload. Cinebench renders a 3D scene. It also has the option to run the benchmark in single core mode. This is one that would be easy to use on your own system and see where it stacks up.

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Again here, we see Bulldozer pull up behind the AMD Thuban processor not to mention how well we see the Sandy Bridge processors scale ahead of the older Nehalem architecture.

Finally we are using a real world application that is very reliable in giving repeatable results, and that is LAME's MP3 encoder. Below we are simply timing how long it takes to encode a 1 hour long song in .wav format to .mp3 format. We use LAME's default settings.

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Once again we see the older 1100T outdo its newer Bulldozer brethren.

What we see here in three very different IPC tests is the exact same stack when we look at the architecture scaling. Intel's Sandy Bridge showed the best IPC, with Intel's Nehalem cores coming in second, AMD's Thuban coming in third, and AMD's brand new Bulldozer architecture pulling in a distant fourth.