With this just being the first article of a series looking at the AMD FX-8150 "Bulldozer" under Linux, more conclusions will be drawn later. However, as these results show, under Linux the AMD FX-8150 is a competitive product to the Intel Core i5 2500K when dealing with multi-threaded workloads. For single-threaded work and other select tasks, the Bulldozer performance is disappointing.
Fortunately, for Linux users, most open-source software is well multi-threaded. If you are running Gentoo, Arch, or just doing a lot of compiling in general, the AMD Bulldozer CPUs should be able to prove their value very well. Beyond that, with open-source software that you may be building, GCC and Open64 already have Bulldozer (version 1) optimizations in place.
Linux users will be able to take full advantage of the Bulldozer architecture sooner than Microsoft Windows customers, which will primarily see the real potential when Windows 8 is released. In the Linux world, there's still some Bulldozer kernel work that's not yet merged and presumably more compiler/kernel optimizations coming, but we will hopefully see all of that merged and ready in time for next spring when Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Fedora 17, and other Linux distributions are pushing out their new versions. If you are so inclined, you can always pull the patches yourself, tune your compiler options, and make other tweaks today to take greater advantage of these new AMD processors. The upcoming FX-8150 Linux articles have more revealing information.
Another advantage to the Bulldozer CPUs is that they are unlocked and can be overclocked very easily. Hitting around 4.6GHz on the FX-8150 is a breeze, as one of the upcoming articles illustrates, and banging 5GHz is not out of the question at all. Besides the poor performance with single-thread tasks, another disadvantage of the FX-8150 is the price. The launch price of the FX-8150 retail (without water cooling) is $279 USD. This is roughly $60 USD more than the Intel Core i5 2500K "Sandy Bridge", which frequently was faster under Ubuntu Linux.
Stay tuned for the next round of AMD Bulldozer Linux benchmarks. Also, find me on Twitter where I have been sharing status updates from the Linux testing and other information.
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