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AMD has released its FX Series processor for high-end desktops. The FX Series includes the industry’s first eight-core desktop chip and it is the company’s first processor in years based on an entirely new design consisting of Bulldozer modules.
Four FX Series processors will be available in stores starting today:FX-8150: Eight cores; 3.6GHz base frequency; $245;FX-8120: Eight cores; 3.1GHz base frequency; $205FX-6100: Six cores; 3.3GHz base frequency; $165FX-4100: Four cores; 3.6GHz base frequency; $115.
In a press release, AMD said additional FX Series processors will be available after the launch. The FX Series is part of the Scorpius platform, which includes designed to be used in desktops with a motherboard based on the AMD 9-Series chipset and HD Radeon 6000 series discrete graphics. This sets it apart from the mainstream A-Series and low-power E- and C-Series, all of which are what AMD refers to as APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) because they have less powerful Radeon graphics on the same physical chip and do not require a separate GPU.
AMD announced the 9-Series chipset back in June and several manufacturers including ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, ECS, Gigabyte, Jetway and MSI already offer motherboards. The company recommends Radeon HD 6850 graphics or higher. Graphics cards based on the Radeon 6850 with 1GB of memory start at around $150.
The Bulldozer microarchitecture, known internally as the Family 15h, is interesting because it consists of modules each of which contains two AMD64 CPU cores and an integrated memory controller. Unlike other designs, each module shares many components including a front-end (fetch and decode), floating-point unit, data prefetch unit, and 2MB of L2 cache. An FX-8150 therefore has four Bulldozer modules with a total of eight cores but only four FPUs. AMD says this gives them the room to pack more cores in the same die area. Bulldozer has several new instructions including some that are in both AMD and Intel processors and some unique to AMD. It includes new power management features and AMD’s Turbo Core that temporarily boost performance on single-threaded applications. I wrote about the new microarchitecture in more detail at Hot Chips in August.
The same Bulldozer design will be used in upcoming server processors, known as Valencia and Interlagos, as well as in the Trinity APU that will replace the current A-Series in 2012.
John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine.