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Sneak Peek: AMD’s Bulldozer Architecture On Windows 8

AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested
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It’s far, far too early to pass judgment on Bulldozer’s performance in Windows 8. However, we already know that Windows 7 isn’t explicitly optimized for the idea of a Bulldozer module. I’ve already talked to the guy from Microsoft who owns process management and threading subsystem in Windows (Arun Kishan), who says Windows schedules to them equally (even if that’s not optimal). And we have a good idea that the next iteration of Windows might be handling them differently.

According to AMD, Windows 8 will more intelligently align threads so that, when they can benefit from sharing a module, they will. The implication is that when two threads can be consolidated onto one module (despite the fact that they’re forced to share resources), putting an entire module to sleep and potentially enabling a higher p-state (a faster Turbo Core setting) outweighs any performance penalty tied to sharing.

I wanted to get a more comprehensive suite of tests run on Windows 8, but the developer build was having none of it. Many of our tests are scripted, and none of those would work. Some of the benchmarks that aren’t (like 3ds Max 2012) wouldn’t install at all.

SolidWorks 2010, Premiere Pro CS 5.5, and World of Warcraft all cooperated, though.

Both SolidWorks and Premiere Pro fully utilize available processing resources. The latter demonstrates no change whatsoever, scoring the same on Windows 7 and Windows 8. The former, on the other hand, ends up favoring Intel’s Core i5-2500K, shaving off eight seconds in the move to Windows 8, as the FX-8150 slows down a little.

The thing is, I wouldn’t expect to see a predictable gain in an application already exploiting available processing resources. All cores are already active; shuffling threads around won't make it any easier to jump to P0. It’s much more plausible to anticipate a speed-up in less-intensive apps, where threads are combined, modules are put to sleep, and Turbo Core is ramped up.

To that point, WoW performance increases measurably on the FX at 1680x1050, while the already-strong Core i5 takes a hit (not something we’d expect from a final build, so perhaps that's overhead-related).

The results at 2560x1600 show Intel’s i5-2500K matching its Windows 7 numbers. Meanwhile, the FX-8150 makes up some of the ground lost to Intel in Windows 7.

Core Parking: Works!

Better still, core parking, the scheduling feature that loads tasks onto as few cores as possible, shutting down the rest to save power, does recognize and optimize for Bulldozer modules. In Windows 7, you’d never see a parked core on the FX-8150. Windows 8 rectifies this, and parks cores in pairs, which we interpret to be Bulldozer modules going to sleep.

FX and Windows 7: No parkingFX and Windows 7: No parkingFX and Windows 8: Two modules parkedFX and Windows 8: Two modules parkedFX and Windows 8: Three modules parkedFX and Windows 8: Three modules parked

Here’s one of example of what you see in Windows 7 (first shot), one example of Windows 8 parking two Bulldozer modules (second), and another example of three modules shut down (third).

The result is a measurable power savings. Idle system consumption under Windows 7 was 107 W. In Windows 8, with three modules parked, that number drops down to 99 W. That's a scant 9 W above Sandy Bridge, a 95 W part. Not too shabby for a 125 W challenger.

Windows 8 Hold Promise

Look, don’t expect Windows 8 to drastically change the Bulldozer architecture’s performance profile. Software is an important part of any hardware review, though, and the upcoming operating system will likely improve the results of some tests once it's finalized. It’ll almost assuredly influence power use more tangibly, as its scheduler learns how to address AMD’s design decisions.

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Top Comments
  • 54 Hide
    Homeboy2 , October 12, 2011 4:38 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Everyone should cry, even the Intel fanboys, this is bad news for everyone, now Intel has absolutely no incentive to lower prices or accelerate Ivy Bridge.
  • 51 Hide
    jdwii , October 12, 2011 4:14 AM
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
  • 47 Hide
    gmcizzle , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
Other Comments
  • 51 Hide
    jdwii , October 12, 2011 4:14 AM
    Been so long and i'm kinda sad.
  • 43 Hide
    compton , October 12, 2011 4:16 AM
    Not many surprises but I've been waiting for a long, long time for this. I hope this is just the first step to a more competitive AMD.
  • 29 Hide
    ghnader hsmithot , October 12, 2011 4:16 AM
    At least its almost as good as Nehalem.
  • 40 Hide
    gamerk316 , October 12, 2011 4:17 AM
    Dissapointing. Predicted it ages ago though. PII X6 is a better value.
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , October 12, 2011 4:18 AM
    As I expected - failure.
  • 25 Hide
    AbdullahG , October 12, 2011 4:18 AM
    I see the guys from the BD Rumors are here. As many others are, I'm disappointed.
  • 33 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , October 12, 2011 4:20 AM
    for the gaming community this is a FLOP.
  • 25 Hide
    phump , October 12, 2011 4:22 AM
    FX-4100 looks like a good alternative to the 955BE. Same price, higher clock, and lower power profile.
  • 40 Hide
    phatbuddha79 , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    Why bring back the FX brand for something like this?
  • 47 Hide
    gmcizzle , October 12, 2011 4:25 AM
    What I learned: the 2.5 year old i7-920 is still a beast.
  • 25 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , October 12, 2011 4:36 AM
    Looks like solid chips, but I'll admit that the price point isn't low enough to compete in the gaming world with Intel.

    I am rather curious how the FX-4100 will stack up against the current Phenom II X4 chips.

    And even though the FX is a slight disappointment, I am rather impressed by the Windows 8 benchmarks. Having said that, by the time Windows 8 is ready for release I'm sure Intel will have an even better solution.
  • 25 Hide
    Tamz_msc , October 12, 2011 4:37 AM
    So Bulldozer is AMD's version of NetBurst?
  • 54 Hide
    Homeboy2 , October 12, 2011 4:38 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Everyone should cry, even the Intel fanboys, this is bad news for everyone, now Intel has absolutely no incentive to lower prices or accelerate Ivy Bridge.
  • 12 Hide
    the associate , October 12, 2011 4:41 AM
    killerclickAs I said before, it won't come close to beating Intel in performance or price. Now let's hear the fanboys whine.


    Waaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

    Bah, well, been with AMD since my first pc like 8 years ago...Guess I'll be going intel for the first time ever especially since I can get an overkill cpu for just 300 bucks. Hell that's how much I payed for my phenom II 955...
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