AMD sadness: Steamroller won't come to FX CPUs in 2014

Dave James

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AMD have excitedly announced they're going to be shipping the new Kaveri APU just after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas a couple of weeks after the new year. But what about their straight desktop FX line of processors?

According to the roadmap AMD released this month 2014 is going to see it's 'Performance' lineup of CPUs sticking with the 32nm Piledriver revision of its wildly unsuccessful Bulldozer architecture. Only the new Kaveri APUs will get the new, updated Steamroller design, starting with the AMD A10-7850K, and that's a massive shame. One of the big problems with the original Bulldozer design was the lack of single-threaded performance from the new chips - weaker in fact than the processors they were meant to be replacing.

That old 'performance' CPU range is stretching off into the distance...

The Piledriver revision has done little to change that, but Steamroller is meant to up the ante on the CPU parts, making them far more competitive on a single-threaded basis. And until the next-gen consoles get into their groove and the devs start properly coding for multi-core processors, most games only really take advantage of good single-threaded performance.

Kaveri though is only going to get a pair of Steamroller modules at best, each made up of two pseudo cores. This time though it's less like Intel's HyperThreading, making each of Steamroller's modules much more like a proper dual-core component than their predecessors, with individual silicon dedicated to each 'core'. That means each dual-module Kaveri chip has more claim to being denoted as a quad-core part than any of AMD's APUs to date.

But it's not looking like we're going to see any quad-module, eight-threaded versions like we've had in the FX lineup up to now. If the single-threaded performance was noticeably improved over Piledriver it could start clawing some ground back on Intel, especially with an octo-cored Steamroller monster chip running at the FX-9590's 5GHz clockspeed. The fact AMD aren't looking to roll Steamroller over their performance processor range has me worried about its actual performance.

Those wee AMD mini-PCs

But that's the pessimist in me. I'm still hoping AMD will magic up an awesome eight-core APU once the mainstream Kaveri parts are out of the door and really use the currently ephemeral advantage they have with their architecture being in the major gaming machines of the next decade.

I'll be catching up with AMD at the end of the week, so I'll try grilling them about their processor plans then. And if any of you have any questions you want asked let me know in the comments.

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