AMD Announces FX-9590 and FX-9370: Return of the GHz Race

Today at E3 AMD announced their latest CPUs, the FX-9590 and FX-9370. Similar to what we’re seeing with Richland vs. Trinity, AMD is incrementing the series number to 9000 while sticking with the existing Piledriver Vishera architecture. These chips are the result of tuning and binning on GlobalFoundries’ 32nm SOI process, though the latest jump from the existing FX-8350 is nonetheless quite impressive.

The FX-8350 had a base clock of 4.0GHz with a maximum Turbo Core clock of 4.2GHz; the FX-9590 in contrast has a maximum Turbo clock of 5GHz and the FX-9370 tops out at 4.7GHz. We’ve asked AMD for details on the base clocks for the new parts, but so far have not yet received a response; we're also missing details on TDP, cache size, etc. but those will likely be the same as the FX-8350/8320 (at least for everything but TDP).

6/13/2013 Update: We have now received the most important pieces of information from AMD regarding the new parts. The base clock on the FX-9590 will be 4.7GHz and the base clock of the FX-9370 will be 4.4GHz, so in both cases it will be 300MHz below the maximum Turbo Core speed. The more critical factor is also the more alarming aspect: the rumors of a 220W TDP have proven true. That explains why these parts will target system integrators first, and the FX-9000 series also earns the distinction of having a higher TDP, but it also raises some serious concerns. With proper cooling, there's little doubt that you can run a Vishera core at 5.0GHz for extended periods of time, but 220W is a massive amount of power to draw for just a CPU.

To put things in perspective, the highest TDP part ever released by AMD prior to the FX-9000 series is the 140W TDP Phenom II X4 965 BE. For Intel, the vast majority of their chips have been under 130W, but a few  chips (e.g. Core 2 Extreme QX9775, Core i7-3970X, and most of the Xeon 7100 series PPGA604 parts back at the end of the NetBurst era) managed to go above and beyond and hit 150W TDPs. So we're basically looking at a 76% increase in TDP relative to the FX-8350 to get a 19% increase in maximum clock speed. It's difficult to imagine the target market for such a chip, but perhaps a few of the system integrators expressed interest in a manufacturer-overclocked CPU.

For those who remember the halcyon days of the NetBurst vs. Sledgehammer Wars, the irony of AMD pimping the “first commercially available 5GHz CPU” can be a bit hard to take. Yes, all other things being equal (cache sizes, latency, pipeline depth, power use, etc., etc…), having a higher core clock will result in better performance. The stark reality is that all other things are almost never “equal”, however, which means pushing clocks to 5GHz will improve performance over the existing FX-8000 parts but clock speed alone isn’t enough. AMD continues to work on their next generation architecture, Steamroller, which will debut later this year in the Kaveri APUs as a 28nm part, but in the interim we have to make do with the existing parts.

As we covered extensively last week, Intel has just launched their latest Haswell processors, and on the desktop we’re seeing relatively small performance gains. That’s somewhat interesting as this is a “Tock” in Intel’s Tick-Tock cadence, which means a new architecture and that usually means improved performance. However, similar to the last Tock (Sandy Bridge), Haswell is more of a mobile-focused architecture, which means performance gains on the CPU are minor but power and battery life gains can be significant, especially in lighter workloads. Also similar to the “Tock” when we moved from Clarkdale to Sandy Bridge, the jump in graphics performance with the HD 5000 series parts (and even more so with the Iris and Iris Pro parts) can be quite large relative to Ivy Bridge.

So Intel has been relatively tame on the CPU performance increases this time around and for they’ve focused on reducing typical power use and improving graphics. Meanwhile AMD’s answer on their high-end desktop platforms is…more clock speed. We’ll have full reviews of the new parts in the future, as the new CPUs are not yet available, but given the ability of Vishera to overclock quite easily to the 4.8-5.2GHz range on air-cooling (and 8GHz+ with exotic overclocking methods!) the higher Turbo Core speeds were inevitable.

We could also talk model numbers and question the need to increment from the 8000 series to the 9000 series when nothing has really changed this time around—the more sensible time to make that jump should have been when Vishera first launched, at least from the technology side of things. It would also be nice to see more of a unification of model numbers in AMD’s product stack, as we currently have FX-4000, FX-6000, FX-8000, and now FX-9000 parts all built on the Zambezi/Bulldozer and Vishera/Piledriver architectures. FX-4000 (two modules/four cores), FX-6000 (three modules/six cores), and FX-8000 (four modules/eight cores) made sense, but FX-9000 breaks that pattern. At present there are no updates being announced for the FX-4000 and FX-6000 families, but those will likely come. Will they be FX-5000 and FX-7000 parts now, or will they remain 4000/6000? If AMD were to use an Intel-style naming convention, Bulldozer was 1st Generation, Piledriver is 2nd Generation, and ahead we still have Steamroller (3rd Generation) and Excavator (4th Generation), but they’ve chosen a different route.

Whatever the name of the part, more than ever it’s important to know what you’re actually getting in terms of hardware before making a purchase—that holds true for AMD CPUs, APUs, and GPUs, but it also applies to Intel’s CPUs and NVIDIA’s GPUs, never mind the variety of ARM SoCs out there. The FX-9000 series is now AMD’s highest performance four module/eight core processor for their AM3+ platform, but it’s an incremental improvement from the FX-8000 series in the same way that the Radeon HD 8000 series is an incremental improvement on the HD 7000 GCN offerings. At least on the AMD CPU side of things we can generally go by the “higher numbers are better” idea, but that won’t always be the case.

AMD did not reveal pricing details on the new parts, and the press release says these new CPUs will “be available initially in PCs through system integrators”. They may replace the existing FX-8350 and FX-8320 eventually, but they will initially launch at a higher price depending on how AMD and their partners feel they stack up against the competition.

Source: AMD Press Release

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  • silverblue - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I imagine GF's 45nm process was significantly mature at the time X6 was due for them to make some decent power savings, however they were generally clocked below the X4 series.
  • notorious1212 - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Here's more what I'm thinking:


    I am skeptical about the 125W TDP, but if that's the case, the performance gain from a base clock increase isn't that bad. I would probably invest in that. I don't have much hope for increased game performance. However, I think if the next gen consoles start bringing multi core friendly titles to the pc, AMD's parts might have more longevity and accuracy than they're given credit for.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    As far as gaming goes, Ian has already shown that the vast majority of games are GPU limited at high quality settings until you get more than two GPUs -- provided you have at least an A10-5800K or FX-8350, your CPU is "fast enough" for nearly any game we're likely to see in the next couple of years.
  • Traciatim - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    That's only true for a certain subset of games, and generally those games are console ports (IE, simple CPU stuff, and 'high' settings means "just add more textures and launch it on PC!").

    Pretty much any grand scale PC game (like MMOs or RTS games) are heavily CPU bound, and in the vast majority of cases where CPU matters AMD falls flat on their face.

    Though console ports will still probably run well, considering the CPU's in both the new consoles are low powered net-book style CPUs. So I'm sure there will be enough games for everyone to play.

    I can only hope both the server and client for Planetary Annihilation have benchmarking tools, that would be great.
  • iamezza - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    It all depends on the games. You can't conclude that the vast majority of games are GPU limited unless you actually test a large number of modern games. Ian only tested 4. There are a large number of games out there, often PC only multiplayer games, that are massively CPU bound.
    Check out this one :
    In Shogun 2 an overclocked i5-3570k gets triple the minimum FPS of a stock Phenom II X6 1100T (36FPS vs 12FPS!)
    The gains in Arma II are large too at 80% higher minimum FPS.
  • flurazepam - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    By the same token, an overclocked i5-3570K is twice as fast as an i7-3930K in Shogun 2 according to the graph you linked to. We know the 3570K doesn't stand a chance in multi-threaded anything against the 3930K. This clearly suggests this game is single threaded because the OC 3570 is also faster than the OC 3770K with the results you presented. To suggest they are CPU bound is disingenuous if they're only using 1 core. Moreover, the memory controller also features prominently in some games and this needs to be addressed as well.
  • rocketbuddha - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    For now, the Next Generation CPU core also known as Steamroller will only find its way into APUs.

    AMD has not given(yet) any indication as to when the Piledriver based FX MPUs will transition to Steamroller based FX series. So you might need to tweak the below statement like AMD tweaked the FX series ;-)

    Bulldozer was 1st Generation FX-series, Piledriver is 2nd Generation FX-series, and ahead we still have Steamroller (3rd Generation FX-series) and Excavator (4th Generation FX-series), but they’ve chosen a different route.

    But tell me this. Is the base clock the same 4.0 GHz for the FX-9590 ?? If 5GHz is turbo it is certain that certain cores are turned off guarenteeing that. Apparently AMD has been hiring marketing BS people from Samsung (of the Exynos "Octa" fame) while Samsung has been poaching AMD's engineering talent. ;-)

  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    I took out the FX-series reference for you, since you're correct. As for the base clock, it remains (as yet) undisclosed, probably for good reason. And I'm not sure if AMD poached Samsung's marketing people or if they just hired the same marketing group that handled Intel's NetBurst clock speed frenzy. :-)
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Can't have a race when only one person is running.
  • polyzp - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    AMD FX 9590 benchmarks leaked! See for yourself

    amdfx.blogspot . com

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