AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer CPU Review

CPU by leeghoofd @ 2011-10-12

It has been a while since AMD has revamped their CPU lineup. New Graphics Cards are introduced on a regular basis, though mostly their silicon motherboard processor variants are not. Mostly a brand new breed of CPUs goes hand in hand with the launch of a new CPU socket. And if the end user is really unlucky the RAM and CPU cooler need a swap too. It has been over 18 months since AMD introduced their hexacore Thuban CPU. So it was about time to give an answer to Intels SandyBridge lineup. Or why not even aim for Intels high end socket 1366 Gulftown lineup. With every new CPU release, speculations rule the various forums. How the design is gonna be, performance expectations, die size, TDP,.. you name it and has been dealt with on the tech sites. On the 12th of October AMDs new born CPU core baptized Zambezi, for the desktop PCs and for the servers Interlagos and Valencia will see the daylight. Let's open the press kit.

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Technical part 2

The below shown Zambezi CPU is the first generation of a new processor family (15h) from AMD.  Some of the specs :

  • Die size 315mm² ,Transistor count 1.2 billion transistors
  • 128Kb of Level 1 Cache, 16Kb/Core , 64-byte cacheline, 4-way associative, write-through
  • Total of 8MB of Level 2 cache, in fact 2MB per Bulldozer module, 64-byte cacheline, 16-way associative
  • Integrated Northbridge which controls 8MB of Level 3 cache, 64-byte cacheline, 16 way associative
  • Two 72-bit wide DDR3 memory channels
  • Four 16-bit receive/16-bit transmit Hypertransport links



The AMD engineers looked for a way to optimise the core power and area. Having analysed todays programs, they want to achieve maximum bandwith accross the different cores. The idea to tackle it all was to design a CPU with dual core building blocks (our Bulldozer modules) to effectively optimise the use of resources within the processor. Yet keeping the die size of each block well within limits.



The Floating point unit also has undergone a complete re-design. New instructions have been added and the redesign was required to allow sharing between the cores. There are two 128-bit FMACs shared per module, allowing two 128-bit instruction per core or one 256-bit instruction per dual core module.

With Thuban we already saw the implementation of the Turbo mode. Depending on the TDP (Thermal Design Power ) it gave a nice boost in calculating power. AMD has gone one step beyond and went for either a max core or max frequency Turbo setting. Doesn't sound complicated does it.

  • Max core : turbos all the cores, staying below the TDP : max plus 300mhz, 3900Mhz for the reviewed CPU.
  • Max frequency : increases frequency on half the cores. Usually activated on light threaded apps, max plus 600Mhz for our FX-8150, so 4.2Ghz.





I hope you are still with me and are ready to see how this puppy performs in our usual test suite. As always manufacturers want the reviewer to use favourable tests/hardware. As stubborn as always we use what we have and are comon to work with. Here are some shots of the in the press kit included Asus Crosshair V motherboard.





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Comment from petervandamned @ 2011/10/12
Nice one

U did a great job bro !
Comment from Teemto @ 2011/10/12
Nice review. But still I feel FX is a dissapointment as I was hoping for it being at least on par with the 2600K.

Now the question arrizes:

What do I choose as next shrimp bench setup :

1. Keep current Asus Z68 Gene-Z with
a) better 2600K (should ask for a Tones binning day )
b) new 2700K (and hope for the best)

2. Wait for Sandy Bridge-E (most costly upgrade -> wife factor comes into play )

3. Formula V + FX-8150 (hoping that with my new cascade I can manage a stable 5.5+GHz system). It'll look nice but will it be an improvement over my current 5.3 sandy bridge? I have my doubts...
Comment from leeghoofd @ 2011/10/12
I sold your CPU btw today... so something better is on the way if you are game...

For benching sorry but this CPU is only good at CPU-Z... it's a nice game platform or encoding machine as long as the apps support it. for benching plz look elsewhere...
Comment from larkin @ 2011/10/14
Nice NB overclocking test but you should really have high speed memory in there to see a bigger difference. I'm pretty sure PC1280 is a bottleneck at that OC.
Comment from leeghoofd @ 2011/10/14
thanks ir.

Yes i just wanted to have a reference. Sin at XS has tested NB scaling with 1866Mhz Link here : ... His results were not scaling to much.

Too bad we need to go subzero to go over 2800Mhz... I hope retail silicon will be a better as steppings progress...
Comment from leeghoofd @ 2011/10/14
thanks sir.

Yes I just wanted to have a reference. Sin at XS has tested NB scaling with 1866Mhz Link here : ... His results were not scaling to much.

Too bad we need to go subzero to go over 2800Mhz... I hope retail silicon will be a better as steppings progress...