'Four Modules, 16MB of Cache and 4GHz core frequency for $253' - those are the headline specs leaked this weekend of the FX-8350 according to US Retailer BLT. The FX-8350 is AMD's flagship Piledriver CPU and represents the first significant Bulldozer refresh, a variant of which is seen on Trinity APUs, and is believed to be a stepping stone towards the much revised Steamroller design due next year.
Great things aren't quite expected of these CPUs - Bulldozer disappointed a little too much last year and Piledriver changes are believed to be only minor - but it's hoped that the Piledriver refresh can at least return AMD competitiveness in the desktop market. Overclocking enthusiasts will at least have a new toy to play with: FX chips come shipped fully unlocked to push performance as high as it can go.
The pricing for these 4 module (8-core) CPUs is pegged at $253.03, which to put in context is a little over $40 more than Intel's i5-3570K but substantially less than the i7-3770K. As with Bulldozer it appears AMD need to ramp core frequencies in order to reach expected performance levels, leading to a 4GHz core at the high end compared to 3.6GHz on the flagship FX 8150. Any IPC improvements should therefore spell significant performance improvements over equivalent Bulldozer parts.
Three other CPU's - a budget FX-4300 with two modules clocked at 3.8GHz, mid-range triple-module FX-6300 and high-end quad-module FX-8320 - are also outlined with prices ranging from $130 to $240. The price bump from 3.5GHz 8320 to 4GHz 8350 is a relatively negligible $11, and may be one of the few instances where grabbing the cheaper unlocked part isn't be worth the trouble.
All Piledriver CPUs utilise the AM3+ socket, and so in theory are compatible with 800-series and 900-series chipset motherboards. Note also that they're power-hungry compared to IvyBridge, sitting at the 95W and 125W points for TDP; even if performance is stellar, perf/watt metrics aren't likely to be kind.
These CPUs are expected to be on sale from October 1st, and will hopefully be a ray of sunshine for long-suffering fans of the Red Team.