The AMD FX-9590, the Silicon Wars Reach 5GHz…

AMD has reignited the silicon wars during this year’s E3, announcing the first commercially available processor to break the 5GHz barrier, the FX-9590. Is AMD closing the high performance gap with Intel?

The brand new FX-9590 is an evolutionary step for the FX family that brings a healthy speed bump over the previous generation FX-8350. Tweaking the silicon design and manufacturing process has allowed the Turbo Mode to jump from 4.2GHsz to the magic 5GHz mark. Base clock speed has also dramatically increased from 4Ghz to 4.7Ghz.

As with all FX processors the new silicon is fully unlocked for easy overclocking, something the new FX excels at. Early reports suggest water-cooling will see the latest FX scream past the 5.5GHz mark.

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AMD also demonstrated a second new FX processor during E3, the junior of the family FX-9370, with a slightly lower 4.7GHz Turbo mode this will be the slightly cheaper sibling of the new 5GHz chip.

Able to reach 5GHz in a single bound the new 8 core processors from AMD continue to use the Piledriver architecture of the previous generation. The Piledriver specifications remain unchanged with 16MB of cache memory (8+8) and an integrated dual channel memory controller that supports DDR3 1866.

Xbit labs is reporting that this latest Piledriver is capable of quad channel memory, a feature that will be enabled on Opteron server processors but will be unavailable on the FX’s AM3+ motherboards, time for a new socket.

The most concerning news from the spec sheets is the 220W power requirement of the chip. A massive increase from the 125W limit that has seemed to be in place for a decade. Not a huge issue for the chip itself but a it is a massive increase that may require power supply upgrades to match.

FX-9590 Silicon
FX-9590 Silicon

A most unusual situation seems to be occurring in the silicon wars, AMD may be winning the small battles while losing the war itself. When you compare processors at the model level AMD is doing a lot better than you might expect.

AMD seems to be working from the bottom up. The Jaguar core A4 and A6 APU’s from AMD are lower power and much faster than the Atom equivalents. As for the mid range processors the latest A6 and A8 can beat Intel’s Core i3 and i5 processors in many tests. While the new FX-9590 should be much closer in performance to its Core i7 competition they are much cheaper. Obviously AMD is heading in the right direction but have much work left to do.

When it comes to bang for your buck AMD offers a very compelling option, cheaper than Intel with comparable performance. In an age when processor power has surpassed day to day requirements this becomes a very interesting option for many.

If extreme performance at any cost is your interest then Intel’s Extreme Edition is for you, it is still the undisputed king of the desktop when it comes to pure performance. Here at Highpants we use both Intel and AMD day to day and simply can’t see the cost justifying small percentage advantage many websites give Intel. The AMD seems quick enough to us. The latest FX-9590 simply sweetens the deal.

AMD has initially made the new processors available to OEM system builders, price and date of the retail release is still unknown. With the contracts for the next generation consoles under its belt and a competitive lineup of processors AMD is on a roll.

Reference: AMD
Reference: Xbit labs
Reference: AnandTech
Reference: DailyTech

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