Why I think AMD is Turning it Around, and it’s not the Reason You’d Expect
Let’s face it. If you’re a full time news and editorial writer, then you want to cover every bit of info you can find without missing a beat. On the other hand, if you’re like me, then you have to balance your passion for computer hardware with a full time job, a wife, kids, and the other normal things that come your way. AMD has been pumping out some interesting news, but there hasn’t been enough concrete things that I could find the time to put enough thoughts together on. However, there are enough small things going on that I think it’s time to go over them. AMD seems to be heading in the right direction with their upcoming CPUs and GPUs, but there’s one thing that really caught my attention that encouraged me about Red’s potential to turn their fortunes around next year.
Zen is the major thing everyone is hoping will bring AMD back from the brink. The new architecture combined with the new cache design seems to be showing a lot of promise. Nobody will argue with a 40% IPC gain and if the chips overclock decently, Zen could be a major win. Recently, news came out showing that the new design met AMD’s expectations and no serious bottleneck occurred in testing. This makes you wonder how much AMD knew about Bulldozer’s bottlenecks and how hard they tried to overlook them. With Global Foundries recently saying that their manufacturing process seems to be up and running, Zen looks like it’s going to be on track as well. These are all signs of the company doing the right things, but we’ve all heard these things before.
In the GPU side of the market, we have the Arctic Islands series about to make it’s debut. Here, we recently found out that all products are supposed to be entirely new architecture with no refreshes. Even though AMD’s previous architecture has held up quite well all considering, it’s far better to have fresh products. Really, this should come as no surprise though, since these GPUs will also come with the new manufacturing process as well. Also, Radeon not only launched itself as it’s own division again to help channel it’s focus, but we recently heard about the new Crimson driver coming soon. These are good signs, but once again, it’s not like we haven’t heard these type of things before. The simple fact of the matter is we do not have any actual performance numbers yet. We have no way to verify what AMD is claiming and until we can, many will remain skeptical at best.
I had been waiting for some concrete numbers to show up before I decided to jump on the article band wagon. While the busyness of life also contributed to me holding out, one thing finally pushed me over the edge while also raising my faith immensely in what AMD is doing. We’ve all heard that they are trying to make drivers better, but we all feel like they have a ways to go. I can’t remember why, but I decided to check up on chipset drivers. Anyone who owns a 990FX chipset knows that there hasn’t been an updated driver for it since Windows 8. Apparently, the new OSes are supposed to have integrated support, therefore not needing drivers from AMD, but I’ve never felt that the included drivers were very smooth. Imagine my surprise when I found a 15.7.1 updated chipset driver, updated in July, going from Windows 7 all the way to 10! I was kind of excited so I downloaded and installed it on my bench system. I couldn’t tell if I was just imagining, but it seemed to fix some jerkiness and speed things up a bit. It was time to test my main system that also has a 990FX chipset and Crossfired R9 290s. I could instantly tell that Tomb Raider, my current addiction, was running much smoother. This was Huge!
Here’s the deal. I haven’t gone through the process of doing thorough benchmarks so I can put numbers on paper. The numbers may not change anyway. But we all can relate to just knowing when something smooths out and that is exactly what happened after the update. I also quit getting a weird crash (so far) that would involve a blue screen, a reboot, and my hard drives mysteriously vanishing until I did a full power off, power back on cycle. This is the kind of commitment that tells me AMD is serious now. Could I be wrong? I sure hope not. This chipset driver has improved my computing experience immensely. Sure, it may be small things, but when you put as much time and effort into a system as I do, you want things to run nearly flawless. I’m excited about what’s in store next year because AMD has made me extremely happy with what feels like an excellent chipset driver (better late than never) and I think we’re all in store for a 2016 treat!
If you have a 9-series chipset (990FX, 990X, 980G or 970), here’s a link to the Windows 10/8.1/7 (32-bit & 64-bit) driver. http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/chipset?os=Windows%2010%20-%2064