Thursday, October 13



The reviews of AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs are out, and the verdict is pretty clear: It's kind of meh.

It's an 8-core 3.6GHz chip with 16MB of cache, so you'd expect performance to be amazing.  It's not bad, and if you're upgrading from a machine more than a year old it should deliver quite the performance boost, but it's not all you might expect from the raw specs.

Part of the problem is that while there are eight cores, they're arranged in pairs, and there's only one floating-point unit for each pair.  (Which is how AMD managed to fit eight cores on a chip where Intel only provide four.)  So for maths-intensive tasks like games and video compression, the 8-core AMD chip actually runs much the same as a 4-core Intel; sometimes a little faster, sometimes slower.

My primary interest is on the server side of things, though - databases and text processing -  and that part of the picture isn't as clear yet.  I'm hoping it can pull out some better performance numbers there, because the competition in low-end servers is the E3 Xeon, which is crippled by Intel's retarded decision not to support registered memory (the type of memory almost all servers use).  The low-end server edition of the Bulldozer will support 48GB of cheap RAM - 96GB if you go for a dual-processor motherboard.  The E3 Xeon supports 16GB.  You can get high-density modules that let you go up to 32GB, but the cost of upgrading a Xeon server from 16GB to 32GB of RAM is currently more than an entire Opteron server including 32GB of RAM.  And the E3 Xeon doesn't support dual processors at all.

So, I'm planning on picking up a Bulldozer sometime soon and putting it through its servery paces.  And we shall see what we shall see.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:40 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 That's actually pretty disappointing; I was considering getting one.

Posted by: RickC at Friday, October 14 2011 02:35 AM (kD/BS)

2 It's by no means bad - it offers similar performance to Intel's fastest chips in most cases, and better in some cases.  Only problem is it uses more power to do so.

It's just a bit of a disappointment, because on paper it looks amazing.  I'm still planning on getting one, maybe two, here at Pixy Labs.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, October 15 2011 11:38 AM (PiXy!)

3 Yo, Pixy.  Blather Review is inaccessible -- "Bandwidth exceeded".  Can you fix that for me?  My minions are waiting for their weekly puzzle fix. :-D  Thanks!!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at Tuesday, October 18 2011 09:48 AM (nCo/y)

4 Sorry about that!  Fixed now.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, October 18 2011 06:07 PM (PiXy!)

5 Oh, and hi Spork!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, October 18 2011 06:07 PM (PiXy!)

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