We were expecting announcements about AMD's new Bulldozer line of processors at the big hardware trade show, Computex, last week. And we were disappointed . Instead, they've been sort of formally launched at E3 today, where AMD has relaunched its FX brandname for high performance components.
I say 'sort of' because other than confirming that the first Bulldozer CPUs, forthcoming eight core monsters codenamed 'Zambezi', will be branded 'FX' chips, there's actually no new information about them at all to confirm clockspeeds and pricing details. Instead, today's announced is that motherboards with the 900-series chipset and graphics cards from the HD6000 line-up will also be known as 'FX' parts.
These will be marketed alongside Zambezi processors as a platform for gamers and 'HD enthusiasts', whatever they are.
The FX badge may have fond memories for some. The last time AMD used it was, not uncoincidentally, the last time they had a significant performance advantage over Intel, around 2007. Clearly the company is hoping that it'll be able to repeat that feat with Bulldozer, which is its first completely new chip design since the Athlon 64. Tantalising benchmarks leaked over the last few months have certainly suggested that it will take the fight to Intel with this processor, although it's widely believed that performance issues led to it being delayed from a Q2 launch to Q3.
Unfortunately for AMD, since the relaunch of FX really is just an exercise in branding, it may serve to confuse buyers. Non-FX CPUs and graphics boards will still work with FX motherboards, while FX processors will require newer chipsets. The new naming convention doesn't really clarify things much.
What this certainly doesn't do is make up for our collective disappointment that Bulldozer wasn't at Computex as expected, and that industry rumours suggest that performance issues are the reason for its delay.
Hopefully those fears will be allayed when Bulldozer finally makes an appearance sometime in the next three months.