Where are the New Enthusiast Level AMD Processors?
by Andrew Buckmaster BurnWorld.com
Longtime AMD advocates and enthusiasts of AMD products have been feeling apprehensive for quite some time now. This apprehension lead many people to ask the question: Where are the new enthusiast level AMD processors? All the current signs point to the idea that the company has all but abandoned their promising line-up of enthusiast level processors. At least that’s how things appear on the surface; has AMD really given up on their processor concept? Today we take a look at what the manufacturer has been doing recently in the APU and GPU market. We also explore some of the more recent news and rumors regarding their advances in the enthusiast CPU market. Is this segment of the market really dead and buried for AMD, or is there still hope for us AMD processor fans?
The End of the Line for AMD FX CPUs?
In late 2013, panic struck in the world of the AMD FX CPU lineup. A TechPowerUp piece boldly proclaimed that the current time was ‘the end of the line’ for the producer’s “Vishera” line of CPUs. Leaked product roadmaps from the company effectively confirmed that AMD would discontinue CPU production of their enthusiast level “Vishera Core” and solely focus on APUs for the time being. According to the report, many analysts expected AMD CPU core to increase from the quad-core of the “Llano” A-series into the newer 2014 “Kaveri” A-Series.
However, the title of the report is somewhat misleading. First off, AMD did not immediately discontinue enthusiast CPUs. This information is backed by the afore-mentioned AMD roadmaps. The socket AM3+ “Vishera” still appears in AMD’s production queue as far into the future as 2015. As several Reddit commenters noted at the time, this long span of time is basically an eternity in the world of PC technology. While the roadmaps in question don’t actually signal an end to the FX CPU line from AMD, they do hint that AMD may not have any significant upgrade plans for this line beyond the Piledrive cores already present in the Vishera CPU’s. In other words, AMD will likely not change the 2015 FX CPUs from the 2013 models.
Why Hasn’t AMD Released More Enthusiast Level FX Desktop Processors Lately?
Enthusiast range CPU’s hold far less traction in the present tech world than they used to in the past. Even Intel currently places less focus on their enthusiast range than they used to based on some of their recent Ivybridge and Haswell designs. At the same time, AMD is currently focusing their assets on developing HSA rather than higher core counts. Implementing HAS could potentially allow quad core AMD CPU’s to directly compete with (and possibly surpass) comparable CPU’s from Intel. Of course, all of this is theoretical at the moment. AMD’s processors will rely on software and game designers designing their coding in a HSA-compliant fashion for this processors to remain competitive. Of course, these breakthroughs in HSA coding would only benefit APUs (or AMD CPUs with integrated, low-power GPUs). As far as enthusiast market goes (or discrete GPU users), HSA implementation is really not exciting news to talk about.
Breaking News: The Re-Release of the AMD FX-9590
By late August 2014, this may not be breaking news for anyone anymore, but it did cause some waves on the market back in late June. At the time, the hype generated by Intel’s newest Devil’s Canyon CPUs prompted AMD to decide to re-release its highest-end enthusiast processor, the FX-9590. This time, extra water cooling supplies will be tossed into the mix. The re-released CPU will feature a Cooler Master liquid chip-chiller inside the box. Since this is a CPU, not an APU, it saves space for discrete GPU gamers. The re-released Piledriver will ship with four modules and a 4.7 GHz base clock that can automatically turbo up to 5 GHz if set up correctly.
As far as the rumor mill, there’s a lot of speculation as to which desktop CPU will replace the current models in 2015. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much concrete facts about the subject. AMD last commented on the subject with an official statement in early December 2013. At the time, AMD appears to not have plans to update its FX CPUs in 2014 or to replace them in 2015. Instead, AMD announced it would shift focus to the hybrid top-end APUs. The statement, made by AMD’s James Prior manager of APU/CPU product reviews said “AMD will continue to supply AM3+ and AMD FX processors for the foreseeable future, as per AMD’s official roadmap update at APU’13 [above]. Recently, AMD launched the FX-9000 series, AMD’s fastest desktop processor to date. As AMD’s business continues to evolve, AMD will focus on the areas of growth including support for the desktop PC enthusiast leveraging AMD’s world-class processor design IP, including heterogeneous compute. AMD’s FX branded products will continue to evolve and we look forward to sharing those updates in the future.”
The official roadmap from AMD indicated that the second-generation, eight core FX CPUs would not be replaced in 2014. Moreover, AMD will not introduce multi-core FX CPUs featuring Steamroller or Excavator design to replace Piledriver models in the upcoming year. The company will introduce a CPU codenamed Warsaw in 2014 which features 12 or 16 Piledriver cores. This design serves as a departure from the Opteron 4300-/6300- series.