One of Microsoft's Windows 7 hotfixes alters the behavior of Core Parking, preventing AMD's Bulldozer modules from entering a C6 sleep state as often. Applying that patch has a quantifiable impact on power consumption, which, in turn, negatively affects the efficiency of FX-8150. In Windows 8, that efficiency conundrum is largely resolved, bringing power use back down to the level of Windows 7 with all automatic updates applied.
But how does the performance story shake out? After all, everyone who bought a Bulldozer-based CPU (and anyone now in the market for a Piledriver-based FX) is hoping for sizable gains.
Our testing shows that the FX-8150’s performance doesn't change much at all in the shift from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
The last time we looked at the impact of Microsoft's hotfixes was almost a year ago. In today's comparison, our baseline Windows 7 machine is loaded with a lot more patches from Windows Update, and they cumulatively seem to have a larger impact than the two manually-installed tweaks specific to AMD's Bulldozer architecture. In fact, overall performance is better without the hotfixes applied.
Installing Windows 8 does translate to slightly faster benchmark numbers, and without the power spike. But Microsoft's latest certainly cannot be expected to uncork results that many enthusiasts were hoping might have been bottled up by a poorly-optimized operating system. The onus for fixing Bulldozer was clearly on AMD, and we saw the company take a first step toward that goal with its Piledriver-based FX parts.
AMD told us not to expect any additional performance from FX-8350 prior to our review. But now that we know Microsoft plans to roll out performance- and power-altering updates to Windows 8 right away, rather than waiting for a service pack, there's renewed hope for even a small nudge forward.
Then again, software fixes for hardware problems are only viable when software was the problem originally. I remember once telling a programmer that his computer had a bad memory module. Rather than swapping it out, he charged in with determination to create a software-based solution. Had he identified the bad memory cells and kept his system from accessing them, he might have enjoyed about as much success as AMD waiting for Windows 8.
I eventually talked the programmer into fixing the hardware problem, rather than doggedly looking for a never-quite-finished software solution. AMD, do you see where I’m going with this?