updated 12:50 am EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
AMD FX processors hit eight cores
AMD staked out at least a short-term lead in desktop processors Wednesday with its first-ever eight-core processors for the home in its FX series. The 3.1GHz FX-8120 and 3.6GHZ FX-8150 have a two-core advantage over current Intel chips without sacrificing top speed. The FX-8120 can speed up to 3.4GHz in a Turbo Core mode by selectively managing the active processors, and up to 4GHz in a maximum mode shutting down key cores; the FX-8150 ramps up to 3.9GHz in its middle Turbo mode and 4.2GHz at its peak.
Two more moderate processors are available. The FX-4100 is a quad-core chip with a 3.6GHz main clock and a maximum 3.8GHz Turbo, while the FX-6100 steps up to six cores, 3.3GHz in regular use, and up to 3.9GHz peak.
All of them can make up AMD's Scorpius platform when mixed with one of its 9-series mainboards and one or more Radeon HD video cards. AMD claims an advantage in supporting CrossFireX multi-card video and handling EyeFinity multi-display output, although nether is absolutely needed.
Although performance may change to match, pricing should run significantly under Intel's models. Prices for the FX 4100, 6100, 8120, and 8150 sit at $115, $165, $205, and $245, making them viable for low- and mid-range desktops. AMD is treating the arrival as a hard launch and should have processors on the market and in PCs as of today.
The introduction isn't likely to see Intel-loyal companies like Apple switch, although Apple was at one point rumored in discussions to use AMD for some of its line. AMD's ability to preempt Intel on eight cores and undercut it on price may goad companies to either consider using AMD or for Intel to lower its prices to stay competitive.