AMD's latest-and-greatest chip may lag slightly behind Intel’s competing Core i5, as initial PCWorld performance-testing indicates. But these disappointing results hide benefits that AMD's 'Bulldozer' FX CPU will likely offer, especially for cost-conscious small businesses.
The issue is that most CPU-performance tests don't reflect the potential computational power offered by FX, which has up to eight cores, depending on the version. Sure, computationally-wise, preliminary synthetic tests, such as PCMark 7 and Cinebench, reflect real-world computing performance and indicate that the FX lags in comparison with Intel’s Core i5. That's what PCWorld's tests showed after running the four-core FX-4100 through the paces.
Why can’t the FX’ multi-core design crank past Intel’s Core i5 in these tests? Most of these tests are largely geared for CPUs with two or fewer cores. Software makers also have yet to bring to market applications that will take advantage of FX multi-core design for multi-threading tasks.
“AMD FX and Bulldozer CPU technology was optimized for multi-processing and multi-threaded applications,” Dina McKinney, corporate vice president, design engineering, for AMD said via email.
The eight cores also benefit from AMD’s Turbo Core feature, which automatically boosts the clock speed of different cores when others are not in use above and beyond their normal speeds. When Turbo Core kicks in, the standard clock speed of the FX-8150, the highest-end version of the FX, can speed from 3.6GHz to 3.6GHz.
Turbo Core also does this while monitoring power consumption and will lower the processing speed if overheating occurs (Intel’s Turbo Boost has a similar functionality).
So in the future, look out for potential video editing, engineering, and other software that might harness what eight cores and Turbo Boost can offer both in the desktop space. While it is has yet to be proven, the FX with its eight cores could very well be ahead of its time.