AMD Confirms They Will Support Bulldozer on AM3+

Image Courtesy: AMD

Image Courtesy: AMD

Yep, in an interview with AMD today they confirmed they will officially support Bulldozer architecture CPUs on socket AM3+. Hardly news you say? Perhaps.

You see, there was some brouhaha recently about ASUS announcing they were the “First to Provide AM3+ CPU Ready Solution for Current AM3 and Future AM3+ Motherboards“. They made two statements in that press release, which can be paraphased as:

  • ASUS will support Bulldozer on certain current AM3 motherboard models with just a simple BIOS upgrade.
  • ASUS will be releasing M5A series 8- and 7- series chipset boards with an AM3+ socket .

So, on some existing and some to-be-released 7- and 8- series chipset boards, ASUS will be supporting Zambezi CPUs.

Then, within days, Gigabyte jumped on the Bulldozer bandwagon. They weren’t first with an AM3+ support press release, but they say they’re the first to market with the actual AM3+ black socket. They did not mention BIOS upgrades like ASUS did, so it remains to be seen whether they will support models currently on the market.

AMD will only commit to one thing – they will support Bulldozer on AM3+ chipset boards.

If you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Look at the press releases above, especially the ASUS one. There are a limited number out of a vast array of currently released boards that will receive Bulldozer support. Why would AMD throw themselves behind fragmented support of an older chipset? The only thing they’d say is that people will need to speak to their specific motherboard manufacturer regarding support for Bulldozer on AM3 chipset boards. Can’t say I blame them.

In our conversation, we did speak about other things as well and we have some facts that we can share directly from the horse’s mouth. Some are already out there (most, in fact), but it’s always best to go straight to the source to get the true facts.

First, a little nomenclature clarification. There are several code words surrounding Bulldozer, and it’s always good to clear up what everything actually means.

  • Bulldozer is the architecture that the desktop and server CPUs will be based upon.
  • Zambezi is the consumer-level high end desktop CPU that will use the Bulldozer architecture.
  • Scorpius, which you hear bandied about less frequently, is AMD’s codename for the platform as a whole, including the coming 990FX chipset plus the Bulldozer CPU.
  • FX Series. This is a complete rumor that AMD would neither confirm nor deny. There was some supposedly leaked box art that brands the new Bulldozer CPUs as “FX”, bringing back memories of the days when AMD ruled the roost. While the concept may be cool, we just don’t know if it’s accurate and AMD isn’t saying. Their stance is that they have not publicly released the branding for Zambezi CPUs.

The Scorpius platform is what AMD refers to when they say they’re going to support Bulldozer CPUs on AM3+. There are reasons for this – the new platform with the AM3+ socket will support new power management features as well as “boosting technology” (turbo boost).

Finally, we’ll share some interesting tidbits from our conversation that you may or may not know. The Bulldozer architecture (complete with eight cores) is being designed to be highly multithread-capable. The pinouts on AM3 and AM3+ are different. However, AM3+ CPUs will physically fit in an AM3 socket.

For the monetarily strapped or frugal readers, you’ll be happy to know that the AM3+ platform, including the 990X chipset, is fully backwards compatible with all current AM3 CPUs.  Thus, you can upgrade your motherboard to the new AM3+ platform and drop in your current CPU while you save up for the Bulldozer CPU itself.

Now, the million dollar question – when will this platform see the light of day? Unfortunately their stance has not changed and remains “mid-year”. It’s a broad term, but at least it hasn’t changed to 3rd or even 4th quarter and they seem to be right on track!

Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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21 Comments:

eflat's Avatar
"The pinouts on AM3 and AM3+ are different. However, AM3+ CPUs will physically fit in an AM3 socket." Hmmm....
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Remember, pinout != pin arrangement. You could have a 6-pin PCIe plug with the proper pinout or you could (easily...but not-so-brilliantly) reverse the positive and negative wires. Thus the pinout would be different, but it would physically fit in a 6-pin PCIe plug. He wouldn't go into detail regarding the pins changed and which pin does what.

Holy sleeper account too, welcome back!
saint19's Avatar
AFAIK AM3 works with 938 active pins while AM3+ will be 940 active pins, ASUS, in a smart move built some CH IV mobos with the 940 active pins for use the current AM3 CPUs, that's the reason for the AM3+ support with a BIOS update.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Vendors use OEMs for sockets, typically Foxconn (see photo here, look in the upper left of the socket). Unless ASUS had Foxconn specifically make an AM3 socket only for them, knowing AM3+ was coming, and what pins they needed where, I doubt that is the case. It's not fiscally smart to have a standardized socket customized for one company's use - it would be prohibitively expensive, especially for such a small order as only the top teir motherboards by one manufacturer.

He also didn't qualify that statement - AM3+ CPUs will physically fit in an AM3 socket. Period, without qualification. I don't think he would have said yes to that if it were actually that 'they'll only fit in non-standard AM3 sockets only on a few ASUS boards that they had custom made.'
ScorpiDragon's Avatar
Maybe, AMD are bringing out CPUs to support the 8x0 series and then other CPUs for the 9x0 series
hokiealumnus's Avatar
I didn't get that indication at all from the conversation. Their only proclamation regarding socket support for Bulldozer architecture CPUs is that they will support them on the AM3+ platform (meaning 9x0 series). If you want to know whether it will operate on an 8x0 series board, you have to ask to the manufacturer.
Bijiont's Avatar
Makes sense. . . why would AMD put themselves back in the AM2/AM2+ boat again because it didn't win them any points with people. Unless you can promise backwards compatibility best just to
ScorpiDragon's Avatar
Well, might as well wait for 990 FX/X boards then.
bennoculus's Avatar
So I have a random question related to this... This is all based on rumor and I don't have my mind set on this.

Doesn't AM3 use a "939 pin" socket? And the new AM3+ would use a "941 pin" socket, least that's what I've read. I've also read that ASUS will be supporting AM3+ with a simple BIOS update. However my M4N98TD EVO board says "941 Pin" above the socket. I noticed this while breaking down from a DICE session today.

Could I possibly hope for one of the lucky boards that will support AM3+ (BD) with just a simple BIOS update? I know this is all rumor, and no one can give me a DEFINITE answer. What do y'all think?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
He said, unequivocally that AM3+ CPUs will physically fit in the AM3 socket.

According to wiki, while the AM3 socket has 941 contacts, the AM3 CPUs only have 938 pins. Wouldn't be a stretch for AM3+ CPUs to have 940 or less.
bennoculus's Avatar
Thanks for the feedback on my random question. I know it's all rumor, just figured I'd get some opinions.

QI, you're right, we'll just have to wait and see.
ScorpiDragon's Avatar
The AM3+ socket has 942 pins and from what I heard is that BD is supposed to have 942 contacts.

The issues AMD had, when running BD on the 890FX chipset was that 940 pins for BD was not enough. C32 and G34 has plenty of spare capacity, compared to AM3.
mak1290's Avatar
I have heard flaws on net that AMD will soon launch Bulldozer FX series revised versions as current versions dissatisfied many..
So When Does actually FX Bulldozer series CPU(8120,8150)New Revised versions will launch??
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Where did you hear that? They're working on Piledriver but I haven't heard any peeps on new revisions of Bulldozer CPUs.
Archer0915's Avatar
Holy threadcromancy Bat-Man this thread has come back to life!

Mak I would suggest starting another thread.
RGone's Avatar
I tried about 6 different sets of search terms in g00gle to try and UN-earth any rumor of a later version of BullDozer and nothing was on the horizon but PileDriver (desktop) so far as one can see. I did not even hit on a "rumor" for updated BullDozer cpu release.
rescuetoaster's Avatar
Seriously - I read the title and became confused, angry, and emotions that I can't even explain.

Let these threads rest in peace.
dkizzy's Avatar
I just wanted to say that an 8120 worked on my M4A89GTD Pro USB3 board with the beta bios update. Asus was right.
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