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Windows 8: Does AMD's Bulldozer Architecture Benefit?

Windows 8: Does AMD's Bulldozer Architecture Benefit?
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Shortly after AMD's Bulldozer architecture launched, AMD had us anticipating a couple of hotfixes that were supposed to improve FX-8150's performance. But Windows 8 was the ultimate goal. Now that the operating system is out, does it help FX-8150?

Prior to writing AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?, I approached AMD to gauge the importance of testing its new FX processor under Windows 8. Naturally, if it'd change the chip's performance profile, I wanted to run those benchmarks. The company made it clear that Windows 8 and its scheduler should behave like a properly-patched installation of Windows 7. As a result, I didn't prioritize those numbers.

In light of Microsoft's recent note that Windows 8 would immediately receive a number of post-RTM updates that might affect performance, though, I'm going to try to run some new numbers on AMD's latest in the days to come. Until then, Thomas has a look at FX-8150 in a baseline install of Windows 7, a patched Windows 7, and the Windows 8 RTM.

--Chris Angelini

I find the courtship between hardware and software vendors to be particularly interesting. On one hand, you have Microsoft Windows, which was originally written to support Intel's x86 architecture. On the other, you have Microsoft's DirectX API, which graphics vendors design hardware to support. Along the way, there are meetings, committees, and then conferences to discuss what needs to show up in the next generation of hardware, how that'll affect software, and what developers need to do to better exploit the former with the latter. 

Before AMD's Bulldozer architecture was even made public, our editor-in-chief was in Austin, TX asking AMD's engineers how Microsoft's Windows 7 would react to this module concept, which clearly needed smart scheduling in order to utilize on-die resources in the most effective way possible. After all, it'd be fairly easy for a "dumb" scheduler to have two threads run on one module, tying up shared resources as other modules say idle. AMD didn't have a good answer at the time, replying only that it was working with Microsoft to address the software side of its hardware dilemma. And at launch, we still had no solution.

Not long after, though, Microsoft introduced a pair of patches that, first, properly recognized Bulldozer-based FX and Opteron CPUs, spreading one thread to each module before back-filling a second thread to already-utilized modules. The second patch selectively disabled Core Parking in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, keeping the modules from entering a C6 sleep state.

Once those patches were made public, we revisited the Bulldozer architecture in AMD's FX-8150 After Two Windows 7 Hotfixes And UEFI Updates with the hope that Microsoft's adjustments would let the hardware really sing. Unfortunately, they really didn't. But in the conclusion of that story, we reminded you that developers high up in Microsoft's ranks were saying Windows 8 would perform differently than Windows 7, even fully patched.

Shared resources make it more difficult for FX-8150 to scale performance linearly.Shared resources make it more difficult for FX-8150 to scale performance linearly.

It was a bummer, then, when AMD told us not to expect much from Windows 8 when it introduced FX-8350. But of course we wanted to go back and run benchmarks to follow up on our Bulldozer-based coverage. Can Microsoft's latest help make up some of the performance we were expecting to see back when FX-8150 launched, or are any possible operating system-related benefits already baked in?

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Top Comments
  • 40 Hide
    boogien8 , October 31, 2012 5:05 AM
    LOL awesome! the last line of this review is epic!
  • 25 Hide
    Crashman , October 31, 2012 5:36 AM
    boogien8LOL awesome! the last line of this review is epic!
    That last line is the result of AMD creating unrealistic expectations for Windows 8. Things have gotten somewhat better for AMD since Piledriver launched, it's too bad that this article was written before that launch :) 
  • 23 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 31, 2012 5:08 AM
    ... gonna get me a FX 8350 anyway... it's cheep as dirt and i have the platform...
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    agnickolov , October 31, 2012 5:03 AM
    Of particular interest to me is that compilation with Visual Studio does slow down a bit on Windows 8. Not what the story was about, but still a valuable tidbit...
  • 40 Hide
    boogien8 , October 31, 2012 5:05 AM
    LOL awesome! the last line of this review is epic!
  • 8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 31, 2012 5:07 AM
    O MY GOD ! 2% win for AMD ! I knew Win8 would be the holy grail of BD/PD.

    /s
  • 23 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 31, 2012 5:08 AM
    ... gonna get me a FX 8350 anyway... it's cheep as dirt and i have the platform...
  • 25 Hide
    Crashman , October 31, 2012 5:36 AM
    boogien8LOL awesome! the last line of this review is epic!
    That last line is the result of AMD creating unrealistic expectations for Windows 8. Things have gotten somewhat better for AMD since Piledriver launched, it's too bad that this article was written before that launch :) 
  • -6 Hide
    amuffin , October 31, 2012 5:47 AM
    !Hype!
  • 7 Hide
    silverblue , October 31, 2012 6:14 AM
    I wouldn't mind seeing if, with Windows 8 and the 8350, hardware can take full advantage of the software instead of the other way around. I was a little dubious about blaming Microsoft in the first place - this isn't quite the Vista scheduler and Phenom all over again.

    Good article. :)  It does seem that the patches create more problems than they solve, so I'd be inclined to ignore them if I had an FX on Windows 7.
  • -5 Hide
    esrever , October 31, 2012 6:42 AM
    Nice to see this finally tested, looks like the performance boost isn't significant enough to matter but at least there is a 1% increase. AMD can use all the minor performance boost they can get at this point.
  • 4 Hide
    belardo , October 31, 2012 6:45 AM
    Throw in the Intel i5-3550 and 3570K CPUs with Win7 and Win8 and see what the numbers say... wouldn't that be fair to see the difference as well?

    DjEaZy... gonna get me a FX 8350 anyway... it's cheep as dirt and i have the platform...
    Yeah, if you already have the board and memory, its mostly logical. But for someone going for a rebuild... it is not, especially if you live near a Microcenter.

    I paid $190 for my i5-3570K CPU, $90 for my Z77 gigabyte motherboard which out-does AMD 900 Series boards. Z77 have native USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, PCIe 3.0... AMD doesn't have PCIe 3.0 until 2014. And unless you get an A-Series CPU, you don't have native USB 3.0 either.

    This, an AMD boards are a bit more costly and more complicated.

    The OTHER AMD problem is that they are packaging clean CPU coolers with their CPUs... they are loud!! So add $25 for a good replacement. The extra costs for electricity doesn't help.

  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , October 31, 2012 6:48 AM
    Quote:
    Nice to see this finally tested, looks like the performance boost isn't significant enough to matter but at least there is a 1% increase. AMD can use all the minor performance boost they can get at this point.

    The Emperor's New Clothes
  • 10 Hide
    ohim , October 31, 2012 6:55 AM
    belardoThrow in the Intel i5-3550 and 3570K CPUs with Win7 and Win8 and see what the numbers say... wouldn't that be fair to see the difference as well? Yeah, if you already have the board and memory, its mostly logical. But for someone going for a rebuild... it is not, especially if you live near a Microcenter.I paid $190 for my i5-3570K CPU, $90 for my Z77 gigabyte motherboard which out-does AMD 900 Series boards. Z77 have native USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, PCIe 3.0... AMD doesn't have PCIe 3.0 until 2014. And unless you get an A-Series CPU, you don't have native USB 3.0 either.This, an AMD boards are a bit more costly and more complicated.The OTHER AMD problem is that they are packaging clean CPU coolers with their CPUs... they are loud!! So add $25 for a good replacement. The extra costs for electricity doesn't help.

    USB 3.0 might make a choice difference but for now PCIe 3.0 makes no difference.
  • 7 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 31, 2012 7:10 AM
    what i see shows that Windows 8 has no advantage over Windows 7 with applications, which is another reason to add to the other reasons why i'm not upgrading to Windows 8.
  • 7 Hide
    qbsinfo , October 31, 2012 7:21 AM

    :lol: 

    Is anyone going to tell AMD they need to start over?

    Any patching or hot fixes is the same as giving someone who is crippled a pair of crutches. And as the article pointed out; it is asinine to expect software to fix a hardware problem. If you think it should or can, then you are not qualified to give an opinion.

    Just calling it the way I see it.
  • 16 Hide
    vitornob , October 31, 2012 8:15 AM
    I remember AMD claiming their cpus are ahead of time. Then some W7 updates was necessary. Then more softwares need update. Then we need piledriver. Then need W8. Now need W8 power-altering updates. All that to make the cpu work properly?
    I'm really uncomfortably with that.
  • 10 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 31, 2012 8:47 AM
    ohimwhy did you even upgrade from windows 98 ? windows XP didn`t had any real advantage over it at start ? or from XP to 7 ? And this topic is about something else , is not call "the reasons why StellCity1981 doesn`t want to upgrade to windows 8, we really don`t care.


    Obv you cared enough to respond. lol

    Um lets see for starters nothing supports windows 98 anymore and the fact that windows 98 can't use anything beyond 512mb let alone take advantage of multiple cores, USB 3.0 DirectX 11 and pci-e. I mean that should have been a no brainer question.

    Windows XP can't take advantage of directX 11 and its 64bit support is weak at best not to mention Windows XP can't take full advantage of multiple cores and XP's support is being phased out etc..

    Does that answer all your ignorant questions?


  • -3 Hide
    refillable , October 31, 2012 8:56 AM
    Quote:
    Throw in the Intel i5-3550 and 3570K CPUs with Win7 and Win8 and see what the numbers say... wouldn't that be fair to see the difference as well?

    Yeah, if you already have the board and memory, its mostly logical. But for someone going for a rebuild... it is not, especially if you live near a Microcenter.

    I paid $190 for my i5-3570K CPU, $90 for my Z77 gigabyte motherboard which out-does AMD 900 Series boards. Z77 have native USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, PCIe 3.0... AMD doesn't have PCIe 3.0 until 2014. And unless you get an A-Series CPU, you don't have native USB 3.0 either.

    This, an AMD boards are a bit more costly and more complicated.

    The OTHER AMD problem is that they are packaging clean CPU coolers with their CPUs... they are loud!! So add $25 for a good replacement. The extra costs for electricity doesn't help.


    I disagree. Generally, yes, an i5-3570k platform is better to make a new build, Especially for a gamer who paid expensively for their electricity. But not if you want to build a workstation, has exclusively ~$200 for a CPU which can render fast and you don't really care about power and noise. I could recommend easily the PD for that user.

    Perhaps a 3570k is $190 and Z77 is $90 in microcenter. But who knows that a 8350 can be lower than that or a 970 chipset can be lower. Native USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 is not important, a ~$100 M5A97 R2 has that with an aftermarket controller. PCI-E 3.0 isn't either, because no 3.0 card will be bottlenecked by a 2.0 slot. AMD board are not more complicated and costly, this has been proved by the M5A97 R2. Yes, they have loud coolers, they are not suitable for overclocks but intel stock are not suitable too. It doesn't matter if you don't care of noise.
  • 2 Hide
    vitornob , October 31, 2012 9:04 AM
    The_Trutherizer"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?"Then how do you explain the remarkable performance increase with OpenCL compression? Sometimes the software has to meet the hardware halfway.


    Maybe the software met the software?
    OpenCL compression might just work better in W8, using whatever cpu, intel or AMD. Can confirm only after see intel cpus comparative, W7 vs W8. If intel cpus are the same using both OS, so point to AMD. If not... well, you know...
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