AMD Sued For Bulldozer CPU Core Count

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AMD sued over allegedly misleading Bulldozer core count.

The class-action lawsuit, filed on 26 October in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that the Bulldozer CPU does not have eight cores as advertised, and uses four cores for processing on a system. Further, it alleges that the CPU model is suffering from “material performance degradation” and cannot simultaneously use eight cores at the same time.

AMD brought the “Clustered Integer Core” micro-architecture to Bulldozer CPU that works as a dual-core CPU, despite having a single-core structure. Unlike hyper-threading technology on Intel CPUs, AMD’s Bulldozer has “module” design that makes multiple cores to share a single floating point unit for processing various tasks.

AMD is being sued for damages, including statutory and punitive damages, litigation expenses, pre- and post-judgment interest, as well as other injunctive and declaratory relief as is deemed reasonable. The proprietary technology allegedly tricked consumers by overstating the number of cores violating the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and comes under the act of false advertising, fraud, breach of express warrant, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Notably, AMD built the Bulldozer processors by stripping away components from two cores and combining what was left to make a single ‘module.’ But by removing certain components of two cores to make one module, they no longer work independently. It would advertise that a given processor had eight cores, for example, when it effectively had four – each core in AMD-speak was really half of a module, and couldn’t operate independently. Dickey points out that the average PC buyer do not have the necessary technical expertise to understand AMD’s design of processors because they trust the tech firm to provide accurate specifications on its CPUs.

Tens of thousands of consumers have been misled into buying Bulldozer CPUs when in fact the chip isn’t even capable of performing like a true 8-core CPU. The report of the lawsuit will surely leave insiders reeling, considering the company has just made ground in its face-off with Nvidia and is close to building its first chip made from Samsung’s 14 nm FInFet LLP process. Processor makers regularly exaggerate the performance of their chips (remember Intel’s obsession with clock speed?), but AMD is learning that there are limits around what you can claim. AMD hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, although it’s notable that the company is backing away from the modular chip designs at the heart of this legal battle.

Its next architecture, Zen, represents a more conventional approach that focuses on simultaneous code threads within each core, like Intel’s Hyperthreading. Even in the lawsuit’s home state of California, hordes of people bought Bulldozer-based computers — if the plaintiffs win the day, that could lead to a hefty settlement payout. Just when you thought things were looking good for AMD with them gaining a lead over Nvidia in recent benchmarks and the imminent arrival of Zen architecture, another obstacle appears in the way of the computer chip manufacturer.

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