Today, AMD has settled a class-action lawsuit for false advertising of its Bulldozer chips for a total of $12.5 million, of which lawyers could take up to 30%, or $3.63 million. That could leave an $8.87 million pot for Bulldozer owners to split among themselves (provided they file a claim).
AMD's Bulldozer lineup of chips, which debuted back in 2011, were largely considered a flop due to their high power consumption, inability to hit rated boost speeds, and generally lackluster performance in comparison to Intel's competing Sandy Bridge chips. Thus, Bulldozer is largely credited as the chip that touched off AMD's decline in the desktop PC processor market, which eventually found the company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. That situation wasn't rectified until the arrival of the Ryzen series of chips in 2017.
To make matters worse for the then-embattled AMD, the company advertised the chips as eight-core models, when in fact they featured four modules that each had two execution cores with shared resources, like a shared front end, cache, and floating point unit, meaning the cores were incapable of operating independently. AMD maintained that the dual-core modules still met the definition of two traditional cores, but some customers disagreed.
That led to a long-running class-action false advertisement lawsuit that was filed in 2015, but AMD settled the lawsuit today for a paltry $12.1 million. The settlement works out to roughly $35 a chip, provided that the number of claimants meets the projections of the court. Unfortunately, the court only predicts that 1/5th of the customers that purchased a Bulldozer chip will come forward to claim their settlement.
As with any settlement that is tied to a lump-sum payment from the defendant, that number could shrink if more people come forward to claim the cash payout. If you purchased any of the seven Bulldozer models from AMD's website or in California, you are entitled to your slice of the settlement pie.
AMD seems to have gotten off lightly, as damages could have been much higher if the settlement had proceeded to court. From the filing:
The value of the proposed common fund represents a recovery of approximately 20% of the damages Plaintiffs would have sought to prove at trial on behalf of the certified class. And, based on their experience, Class Counsel estimate that claiming class members are likely to receive more than 50% of the value of their certified claims had they prevailed at trial. Given the risks and expenses that further litigation would pose in this case, such a result is well within the range of approval
Here we can see the crux of the debate about AMD's Bulldozer marketing. Each module's front end resources, in gray at the top of the first graphic, are shared between two integer cores (marked in green). The floating point unit (FPU) resides between the two integer cores but provides the only floating point processing for the entire module. The L2 cache is also shared between all three functional units. Combined with the shared prediction queue and instruction/fetch caches, the integer cores cannot operate independently of one another.
|Model||Base Clock||Turbo Core Clock||Max. Turbo Core||TDP||Cores||Total L2 Cache||Shared L3 Cache||Northbridge Freq.|
|FX-8150||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||4.2 GHz||125 W||8||8 MB||8 MB||2.2 GHz|
|FX-8120||3.1 GHz||3.4 GHz||4.0 GHz||125 / 95 W||8||8 MB||8 MB||2.2 GHz|
|FX-8100||2.8 GHz||3.1 GHz||3.7 GHz||95 W||8||8 MB||8 MB||2.0 GHz|
|FX-6100||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||95 W||6||6 MB||8 MB||2.0 GHz|
|FX-4170||4.2 GHz||-||4.3 GHz||125 W||4||4 MB||8 MB||2.2 GHz|
|FX-B4150||3.8 GHz||3.9 GHz||4.0 GHz||95 W||4||4 MB||8 MB||2.2 GHz|
|FX-4100||3.6 GHz||3.7 GHz||3.8 GHz||95 W||4||4 MB||8 MB||2.0 GHz|
Here we can see the specs of the FX Bulldozer processors that were advertised with either four, six, or eight cores. Below we can see the launch pricing for the chips, which weighed in at $205 and $245 for the eight-core models. Even if the settlement pays out the estimated $35 per chip, and it likely won't, that is only a fraction of the original MSRP.
|Model||Base Clock||Turbo Core Clock||Max. Turbo Core||TDP||Cores||Suggested Price (U.S)|
|FX-8150||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||4.2 GHz||125 W||8||$245|
|FX-8120||3.1 GHz||3.4 GHz||4.0 GHz||125 W||8||$205|
|FX-6100||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||95 W||6||$165|
|FX-4100||3.6 GHz||3.7 GHz||3.8 GHz||95 W||4||$115|
As this settlement was agreed upon today, there isn't a mechanism to secure a refund yet. We'll update this post as necessary as more details come to light.