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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