AMD released their highly anticipated Bulldozer CPUs last week (our review). The reception was not very warm, and a common thought was that Bulldozer didn't perform as well as expected. Especially in single-threaded tests, Intel was still miles ahead, and even in multithreaded tests AMD wasn't a clear winner.

The initial CPUs use B2 stepping, but an AMD BIOS and kernel document already shows reference to unreleased B3 stepping. A stepping update should bring improvements (usually minor) to performance and power consumption, as well as possible bug fixes. Stepping updates are a normal way to provide small upgrades in between bigger ones, such as die shrinks and microarchitecture changes. While B3 stepping may help Bulldozer a little bit, it's very unlikely that a stepping update would provide huge benefits and thus make Bulldozer significantly better than Intel's equivalent CPUs - so waiting for this update is not exactly a good idea.

No timeframe for the update is known but if the past has any meaning, it won't be anytime soon. For example C3 stepping came about 9 months after the original release of Phenom II X4 with C2 stepping. 

Source: AMD (page 27)

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  • GatorLord - Friday, October 21, 2011 - link

    ...some more thinking out loud on this topic: Don't be surprised if you see a bond offering of short term bonds used to buy back stock and fund 'operating expenses' (paying TSMC to fix GloFo's pile of coat hangers) ahead of a major uptick in short term call options interest.

    If you see either or especially both of those, you'll know they've licked it and some money is about to be won't be as naked as huge insider buys being reported on Form 4s...just saying. Expect it before the seasonal run up and the options get pricier. I'm thinking days.
  • Mathos - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    Have to remember that Phenom 2 Wasn't a new architecture though, only really a dye shrink from the original phenom, with some other minor microcode improvements and increased cache. Now if you go back to the Original Phenom launch, remember that that also launched on a B2 stepping, with the 9400, 9500, and 9600/9600BE, and we remember the issues those had with performance, and bugs? Things did improve slightly with the b3 stepping on that architecture.. Don't know if we'll see major power usage improvements though unless they drop in HKMG on that stepping. Thought they were suppose to already be using that.
  • retrospooty - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    Ya, but the problem is, while AMD delays, then releases with lower than expected performance, then does new stepping many months later, Intel is firing on all pistons, releasing regularly with clear performance gains every time.
  • JonnyDough - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    AMD will come back on top in the future. Intel pushed the envelope in one direction and it didn't pay off very well at one point. That's bleeding edge research for you.

    AMD's new architecture isn't really a step backwards, it just doesn't appear to be a leap forward, yet. Windows 8 and new software development/mixing a GPU in with Bulldozer may produce some interesting results. The problem is that so much remains to be seen. The future still holds promise.
  • JonnyDough - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    To add to that, remember Intel's ION?'s it looking now? Nettops are doing well and ION is becoming a more viable option. AMD's bulldozer is a LONG TERM investment. Like, most stock. ;)
  • eastyy - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    i have a am3 motherboards and a phenom II and do not feel the need to upgrade.

    I think if they can increase the performance even a bit and reduce the price of the processor they could make a comeback

    thought isent it true that intel have there next processors lined up soon ?
  • Hector2 - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    "AMD is working on a B3 stepping" Duh, do you think ?
  • silverblue - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    I don't think it'll be that long before we see them, either, as we've been hearing about this B3 stepping (and its integer core improvements) well before Bulldozer even came out last week.

    If AMD has brought Piledriver forward, B3 really can't take more than another, say, 4 months to appear (perhaps B3 is to AMD's CPUs like the 4770 was to 40nm production, who can say?).
  • JonnyDough - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    Yeah, it is kind of obvious. :P So many of their processors have reached D0 and higher. Its really no surprise that they'd be working on new revisions.
  • a69 - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    For me, perhaps some other people too, Bulldozer makes sense. First of all, I can upgrade my encrypted NAS' CPU from Athlon II EE to FX-4100 for a couple of bucks -- I really need this AES-NI instruction set, and FX-4100 is easily the cheapest CPU which supports it. Then again I will get from 2 cores to "almost" 4 cores. Being with A3+ mainboard, the upgrade is worth the CPU price only - and thats just above $100.

    Clearly, I'm also disappointed of the hype before launch and the real benchmarkss. I think a new CPU task scheduler for the mass OSes will improve the situation. Let's hope this will be done properly and in very near future by the Linux Kernel guys... as my NAS is self-made linux box, so upgrading the kernel with newer version may (I hope so) improve the performance.

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