Last year's launch of AMD's FX processors was honestly disappointing. The Bulldozer CPU cores that were bundled into each Zambezi chip were hardly power efficient and in many areas couldn't significantly outperform AMD's previous generation platform. Look beyond the direct AMD comparison and the situation looked even worse. In our conclusion to last year's FX-8150 review I wrote the following:

"Single threaded performance is my biggest concern, and compared to Sandy Bridge there's a good 40-50% advantage the i5 2500K enjoys over the FX-8150. My hope is that future derivatives of the FX processor (perhaps based on Piledriver) will boast much more aggressive Turbo Core frequencies, which would do wonders at eating into that advantage."

The performance advantage that Intel enjoyed at the time was beyond what could be erased by a single generation. To make matters worse, before AMD could rev Bulldozer, Intel already began shipping Ivy Bridge - a part that not only increased performance but decreased power consumption as well. It's been a rough road for AMD over these past few years, but you have to give credit where it's due: we haven't seen AMD executing this consistently in quite a while. As promised we've now had multiple generations of each platform ship from AMD. Brazos had a mild update, Llano paved the way for Trinity which is now shipping, and around a year after Zambezi's launch we have Vishera: the Piledriver based AMD FX successor.

At a high level, Vishera swaps out the Bulldozer cores from Zambezi and replaces them with Piledriver. This is the same CPU core that is used in Trinity, but it's optimized for a very different purpose here in Vishera. While Trinity had to worry about working nicely in a laptop, Vishera is strictly a high-end desktop/workstation part. There's no on-die graphics for starters. Clock speeds and TDPs are also up compared to Trinity.

CPU Specification Comparison
CPU Manufacturing Process Cores Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Vishera 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
AMD Zambezi 8C 32nm 8 1.2B 315mm2
Intel Ivy Bridge 4C 22nm 4 1.4B 160mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (6C) 32nm 6 2.27B 435mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge E (4C) 32nm 4 1.27B 294mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 4C 32nm 4 1.16B 216mm2
Intel Lynnfield 4C 45nm 4 774M 296mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT1) 32nm 2 504M 131mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT2) 32nm 2 624M 149mm2

Vishera is still built on the same 32nm GlobalFoundries SOI process as Zambezi, which means there isn't much room for additional architectural complexity without ballooning die area, and not a whole lot of hope for significantly decreasing power consumption. As a fabless semiconductor manufacturer, AMD is now at GF's mercy when it comes to moving process technology forward. It simply has to make 32nm work for now. Piledriver is a light evolution over Bulldozer, so there's actually no substantial increase in die area compared to the previous generation. Cache sizes remain the same as well, which keeps everything roughly the same. These chips are obviously much larger than Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge parts, but Intel has a full node advantage there which enables that.

Piledriver is a bit more power efficient than Bulldozer, which enables AMD to drive Vishera's frequency up while remaining in the same thermal envelope as Zambezi. The new lineup is in the table below:

CPU Specification Comparison
Processor Codename Cores Clock Speed Max Turbo L2/L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8 4.0GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $199
AMD FX-8150 Zambezi 8 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $183
AMD FX-8320 Vishera 8 3.5GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $169
AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 8 3.1GHz 4.0GHz 8MB/8MB 125W $153
AMD FX-6300 Vishera 6 3.5GHz 4.1GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $132
AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 6 3.3GHz 3.9GHz 6MB/8MB 95W $112
AMD FX-4300 Vishera 4 3.8GHz 4.0GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $122
AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 4 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 4MB/4MB 95W $101

The table above says it all. TDPs haven't changed, cache sizes haven't changed and neither have core counts. Across the board Vishera ships at higher base frequencies than the equivalent Zambezi part, but without increasing max turbo frequency (in the case of the 8-core parts). The 6 and 4 core versions get boosts to both sides, without increasing TDP. In our Trinity notebook review I called the new CPU core Bulldozed Tuned. The table above supports that characterization.

It's also important to note that AMD's pricing this time around is far more sensible. While the FX-8150 debuted at $245, the 8350 drops that price to $199 putting it around $40 less than the Core i5 3570K. The chart below shows where AMD expects all of these CPUs to do battle:

AMD's targets are similar to what they were last time: Intel's Core i5 and below. All of the FX processors remain unlocked and ship fully featured with hardware AES acceleration enabled. Most Socket-AM3+ motherboards on the market today should support the new parts with nothing more than a BIOS update. In fact, I used the same ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard I used last year (with a much newer BIOS) for today's review:

The Test

For more comparisons be sure to check out our performance database: Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS Maximus V Gene (Intel Z77)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Samsung SSD 830 (512GB)
Memory: 4 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (Windows 8)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64/Windows 8 Pro x64

General Performance
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  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    LOL - no that's the beauty of AMD's "we are not evil" LIE, and their "totally and completely proprietary build of the "open source!!!!!!!! not like nvidia physx!!!!"
    W I N Z I P

    Now, all you freaking amd fanboy liars and losers have to be constantly reminded about your evil, sick, proprietary, "open source" AMD LIED AND COMPATIBILITY DIED - winzip BS !

    LOL - let it dig into you fanboy, let it sink in deeply. All those years amd played your wet brains like limp noodles get played, and you scowled and spit and hated and howled nVidia and PhysX and open source and OpenCL and amd is not evil and they aren't thta kind of company and then you went and had the stupid 3rd grader amd gamers manifesto stapled to your foreheads....
    LOL

    You didn't find it in your evil fanboy manual to let your amd fanboy freind there know about the HACKING amd did on winzip ?

    Tsk, tsk. for shame for shame.
    Reply
  • Brainling - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Translation: I am either paid by AMD, or a total fanboi, and these benchmarks did not say what I want them to say. So I am going to come on here and plug a different reviewers website, that is known to be AMD biased, and tell everyone how unbias they are and how their conclusions are the right ones, because they agree with my world view. Reply
  • yumeyao - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I suggest stopping using x264 HD benchmark and looking for another test case.

    Let's look at what x264 HD benchmark does:

    Source film:
    MPEG-2!!! 6931kbps on avg, with a maximum bitrate of 12xxxkbps!!!
    You guys know that MPEG-2 is DVD standard...... DVD has a resolution of 480p(720x480 for wide-screen), but for FullHD it's 1920x1080, 6 times pixels as DVD has! And dvd has a ~5000kbps bitrate on avg, so what quality of the source film could we expect??

    And then let's look at its output:
    OMFG! 8000kbps!! h264!!!! I'd say for such a source, 2000kbps is fairly enough for an h264 output....

    So do you guys think such a test could ultimates a cpu's calculating potentials?

    I suggest finding any ts/BD-ISO source, and use proper options on x264 (basically you can directly use --preset xxx), then use it as a reference...
    Reply
  • Brainling - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    It's 125TDP part that gets consistently blown away by the 95 TDP Ivy Bridge, which has more transistors and a smaller more modern node process....and at the high end, it's really not that much cheaper than an Ivy Bridge i5.

    *sigh* Oh AMD...how the mighty have fallen. Can the real AMD, the one that gave us Thunderbird and Athlon64, please stand up?
    Reply
  • redwarrior - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    To the Intel fanatics whose bottom-line is" My car's better than your car, my car's better than yours. What infantile sensibilities . The computer is a tool. A multifaceted tool that has 1001 purposes. The AMD technology meets the needs of 99.99% of computer users with a better bang for the buck. Only a one-dimensional person can say otherwise. Myopic gamers need to open their eyes and see there is a bigger world out there. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    Here we go again, the activist on another preaching rampage, with his attack on Intel cpu owners.... nice little OWS protest against the rich Intel people...

    You wouldn't mind then if I said I can't stand you cheap, broke, ghetto amd dirty little rascals who can't pay for themselves let alone the education they need to properly use a computer.
    Not to mention your ignorance in supporting a losing, technologically backwards second tier set of idiots wasting monetary resources that could be spent on something good for the world instead of on foolish amd misadventures that pay interest on amd's debt and not much else.
    You ought to support the company that pays a LIVING WAGE, instead of the one firing their employees, axing them over and over again.

    Thanks for not being capable of properly acquiring and using a computer.
    Reply
  • 7beauties - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I've rooted for AMD against Intel before I built my first PC with the 700Mhz Athlon in 2000. AMD stole Intel's thunder to much acclaim. For a while AMD and Intel dueled for supremacy, exchanging leads, much like the tit for tat between Radeon and Geforce GPU's are engaged in. AMD's scrappy fight spurred Intel's clock to speed up its ticks and tocks, and the computing world benefited from this. It would be bad for all of us if AMD goes out of business. I root for the underdog, for David against Goliath, but David is lying on the ground and boasting of winning. It was embarrassing when the Phenom was so unphenomenal. Then AMD heralded the Bulldozer. Bulldoze what? The empty hype makes the truth more painful. Intel plans to integrate the South Bridge onto Haswell's die, and folks, AMD will lose teeth and get bloodied. I'm growing weary of being a sort of Cubs fan. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    You simpletons all have the same hate filled idiot theory - so let me ask you - since amd has competition, WHY DO THEY SUCK SO BADLY ?

    Somehow you idiots claim, that if amd wasn't around, intel would suck. "Amd has made intel great"

    Well, wait a minute - Intel is around, it's great, AND AMD SUCKS.

    Take a moment, look in the mirror, think about it.... then let me know how red you turned... if not at all, contraception from here on out is a must.

    How are you people so stupid ? How is it possible ?
    Reply
  • Ukdude21 - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    You the biggest idiot on this website. I have read many comments on this website but yours are the most idiotic intel fanboy stained comments ever. Reply
  • halbhh2 - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    If power use is important to you, you should know that different reviews give different results for the power use vs competing intel chips.

    A couple of sites even have equal or lower idle power draw for the 8350 vs i7 3770.

    Trying to figure out why, one variable is the motherboard. Is the Crosshair V a power hog?

    I also looked at yearly cost in electrical use for my own useage.

    The only thing I do that pegs multiple cores at 100% is chess analysis. In Deep Fritz the 8350 is close in performance to the i7 3770.

    I do chess analysis about 1-5 hours a week on average, perhaps 200 hours per year.

    The math is very simple. Power costs 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Peak power useage would cost an extra $3/year roughly vs an intel rig for me. Since I'd use a more power efficient motherboard than the Asus Crosshair, idle power is reasonable. I standby a lot when not using also.

    An 8350 would cost me in the range of $4-$8 more per year in power bills vs an i7 3770 (it's competitor for chess analysis).
    Reply

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