About this time last year, AMD's new Bulldozer-based FX series launched to bright-eyed system builders who expected the new architecture to challenge Intel's increasingly comfortable position in the upper-end processor market. Unfortunately, Bulldozer wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Its performance fell short of the then 9-month-old Sandy Bridge processors and in some cases, even failed to surpass the Phenom II range.
Following Bulldozer's mediocre reception, AMD insisted that the new architecture was still young and would serve as a "solid building block" for the FX series. Although hotfixes such as one that addressed an SMT inefficiency have boosted Bulldozer's performance slightly, little has changed with AMD's FX series in the last year -- until now, anyway, with today marking the arrival of the company's second-generation FX offerings.
AMD is refreshing its desktop processors with Piledriver, an enhanced version of Bulldozer that focuses on improving instructions per clock and frequency -- something we witnessed earlier this month when we tested the company's new Piledriver-powered Trinity APUs. In other words, instead of a major overhaul, Piledriver picks up where Bulldozer left off, which may disappoint those who wanted AMD to abandon the architecture.