While AMD’s M.O. is still to push the GHz and core number as far as it can (which is so far 5 GHz for the Vishera plateau), the release of the AMD FX 8370 processor shows that they have not completely forgotten the energy efficiency aspect of processors, even though it can’t be denied that they still have a long way to go when compared to Intel’s offerings.
The AMD FX 8370 is part of their FX line refresh, which consists of three new processors. The FX-8370 occupies the higher end of this new energy efficient processors which range from 95W to 125W TDP. FX-8370 is the 125W offering, and will have 8 cores that are rated at 4Ghz but can turbo to 4.3ghz. The new FX line is a great improvement in energy efficiency compared to the 220W TDP flagship FX-9590, but as expected, there will be compromises in terms of performance.
With the FX-8370, AMD continues to focus on maintaining a decent price point relative to the performance, and in order to keep all the chips relevant, they have had to restructure their pricing a bit; the top of the line FX-9590 has had its formerly $269 price tag reduced by as much as $40, the FX 9370 sees a $20 reduction, which allows the FX-8370 to enter the midrange price point at $146.99.
What’s New with the AMD FX-8370
Right off the bat, the lower TDP values indicate that we’re looking at processors that more energy efficiency in mind. The chip is built using AMD’s Piledriver architecture and uses Global Foundries’ 32nm SOI process. Each chip packs over 1.2 billion transistors all neatly tucked in a 315mm2 die, with 4 compute modules equipped with 8mb of L2 cache, a couple of integer cores, and 8 MB of shared L3 cache. The processors still use the AM3+ socket, which reveals the target market for these new chips: it’s designed for people who want an upgrade, but don’t have the budget for an upgrade path that would require a new motherboard.
As for new capabilities, the FX 8370 comes with a number of new instruction capabilities, such as AVX, which allow for improved parallelism for 3D apps that utilize heavy FPCs, FMA4 and XOP, which increase the performance and throughput for most integer and FPV functions, and Advanced Encryption Standard, which help with encryption apps like TrueCrypt and PCMark.
It is also worth pointing out that this chip is unlocked, which could be a boon for enthusiasts and overclockers, which has long been a market that AMD’s high-end chips are catered to. The new 32 nanometer die shrink could theoretically increase overclock headroom due to the reduced cooling needs and smaller heat footprint of the reduced transistor count.
In practice, the reduced TDP does show a noticeable improvement. The chip manages to reach clock boosts that are only a hundred or so megahertz shy of 5 GHz, which makes them a match for the significantly pricier FX-9590 and FX-9370 chips. Although as expected, you won’t be able to achieve said speeds if your motherboard isn’t capable, and 3rd party CPU coolers are a must. In fact, these new chips will require aftermarket coolers even if you don’t overclock, if you are very sensitive to temperatures or live in places with above normal ambient temperatures.
Against the Competition
Of course, the big elephant in the room is how the FX-8370 fares compared to the competition. The problem here is that the red and blue team seem to target different niches, resulting in apples to oranges comparison for their products. The FX-8370’s main counterpart on the Intel side in terms of price is only a quad core chip with hyper-threading, resulting in AMD leading a bit performance wise, but only in scenarios that use all cores. The performance is a lot closer (and in some cases in favor of the blue team) when it comes to pure IPC tests.
On the other hand, if we’re choosing the Intel counterpart with the same number of threads and clock speed, Intel’s offering soundly beats the AMD FX 8370 in both performance and power efficiency but AMD still comes out strong in terms of price. This disconnect between the two major chip manufacturers is actually a good thing for AMD, as it allows them to capture a slice of the market unimpeded, as the different strengths and weaknesses mean they aren’t directly competing with Intel in terms of performance and feature sets.
That may all change soon, as it has been rumoured that AMD is only biding its time and pooling its resources, with the revenue from these minor updates being divested towards producing future chips that will try to take the fight directly to Intel. It may take some time, but until then, the FX 8370 is a decent upgrade path for existing FX users who don’t have the budget for a full-on upgrade to the high-end models.