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Benchmark Results: Productivity

AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested
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This OCR app’s ability to fully load processing cores is what allows the FX-8150 to take second place, in between the -2600K and -2500K.

Again, this is a best-case representation of what Zambezi can do, this time in a productivity-oriented title.

Especially on the desktop, though, parallelization isn’t ubiquitous. Poorly-threaded applications like Lame make it painfully clear that AMD lost a lot of per-cycle performance with Bulldozer. In this single-threaded test, FX-8150 is dithering at up to 4.2 GHz. And yet, it still loses to Intel’s old Core i7-920 at 2.93 GHz (that’s 2.66 GHz plus two Turbo Boost bins).

The same thing happens in WinZip 14, a completely different class of software, but also single-threaded. FX-8150 drops into last place as a result of its dismal IPC.

In sharp contrast, we know that WinRAR is threaded (albeit unable to fully tax a multi-core processor). Though AMD’s FX-8150 still winds up losing to Intel’s two Sandy Bridge-based processors, it fares much better, coming in ahead of the Core i7-920, Phenom II X6, and Phenom II X4.

7-Zip gives us an excellent third data point. Compared to WinZip (single-threaded) and WinRAR (threaded), 7-Zip pushes all cores to nearly 100% utilization, nearly letting FX-8150 catch up to Core i7-2600K and blowing Core i5-2500K out of the water. Thuban, Bloomfield, and Deneb are all outclassed as well.

At this point, we’ve seen enough benchmark results to gauge an application’s load based on how the FX-8150 finishes.

Exceptional per-cycle performance gives Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture an insurmountable advantage in single- and lightly-threaded metrics. When we print a PowerPoint presentation to an Adobe PDF file, Zambezi falls to the rear of the pack.

Based on Zambezi’s placement in the chart above, you’d think that Visual Studio was single-threaded. Watching Windows’ task manager actually tells us that this workload spends most of its time with all cores at 100%.

Why does FX-8150 fare so poorly, then? Hard to say. The hierarchy after Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based chips would suggest that Visual Studio likes clock rate. Zambezi has plenty of that, but its IPC is bad enough to put it under Phenom II X4 and X6.

Compared to the previous page, lightly- or single-threaded apps are the Mr. Hyde in this story (intensive, heavily-threaded apps being our Dr. Jekyll). Whereas the value proposition of FX-8150 previously seemed reasonable, now AMD is asking us to accept a pretty significant performance compromise bound to make any enthusiast do a double-take.

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