As Intel has its Extreme Edition CPUs aimed at gamers with way too much money, AMD has the FX series. Both chips are the top of the line on the desktop offering bleeding edge of performance for the most performance-obsessed of gamers.
Intel really took a leap forward with its Devil's Canyon processor, and now it looks like AMD is preparing its rebuttal, with a twist. Roy Taylor, vice president of global channel sales at AMD, on Friday sent out a very interesting tweet. The post shows a (slightly blurry) FX processor packaging that is very different from the usual FX packaging, not to mention is much larger, and says "FX-series processor with liquid cooling technology." Taylor added "something new is coming."
Semantics are important here. AMD is calling this new product a "processor," not an APU, which are its CPUs with integrated GPU technology. The FX chips have always been just CPUs, no on-board GPU cores. One site, X-Bit Labs, claims sources say the chip is a new multi-core CPU aimed at high-end desktops that is fully unlocked, meaning it's meant for overclocking, and comes with a closed-loop liquid-cooling solution.
The last time AMD updated its CPU roadmaps, it listed the Performance category as second generation FX designs using the "Vishera" design and the "Piledriver" microarchitecture. That's not a good sign, in my opinion, because the Vishera design has been around since 2012, and who introduces a new CPU with a two-year-old microarchitecture? Well, apparently AMD.
As it is, the gains in Vishera came mostly from improved thermals, so AMD was able to run them at higher frequencies in the same thermal envelope. They didn't really gain performance through advancing the design. Last year, AMD came out with two FX-class CPUs that couldn't compete with the unlocked Haswell chips – the Core i7-4770K and the Core i5-4670K – in many cases, and Intel is already way beyond that.
What's really interesting is AMD offering a liquid cooling system with its CPUs. Normally you get a nominal heat sink and fan with a CPU that every enthusiast throws away and replaces with a liquid cooling system. Liquid cooling is now the de facto standard for enthusiasts, but it's never been bundled with a CPU before. A heat sink and fan is around $20. Liquid cooling is over $100 when done right.
So it's an interesting move. AMD has always been very close to the overclocker community with its events and outreach. I just hope they drop a bombshell on gamers and make it a Piledriver-based CPU, not Steamroller.