In the recent CPU-reviews we've just taken a look at new Athlon- and Phenom series processors, and while new hardware is always nice, those haven't really offered any ground breaking innovations. This time, however, we take our first look at AMD's new A-series APU-processors, the Llano platform and what it all really means.
The idea of the A-series APU (advanced processing unit) is to combine the traditional CPU with graphics chip and north bridge. Among other things this helps enhance the power efficiency, which is crucial especially in laptops, but also becoming more and more important in desktop computing. The idea of having the CPU and GPU in one chip isn't new, as Intel already did something similar a while back, but compared to Intel, AMD is packing much more graphics performance, and relying heavily on GPGPU-processing.
|Clock speed (turbo)||2,9 GHz||2,4 GHz (2,7 GHz)||2,6 GHz||2,1 GHz (2,4 GHz)|
|TDP (W)||HD 6550D||HD 6550D||HD 6530D||HD 6530D|
|GPU clock speed||600 MHz||600 MHz||443 MHz||443 MHz|
At launch there are four models, two in the A8-family using the HD 6550D GPU and two in A6 using a lower spec HD 6530D. All these APUs have the same quad core CPU with 4 MB of L2 Cache, but two of the four come with Turbo Core-feature that rises the clock speed on demand. The TDP of the A8-3850 and A6-3650 is 100 W, while the A8-3800 and A6-3600 work at just 65 watts. Obviously there's no dedicated memory for the graphics, so the GPU uses the same DDR3 as the rest of the system, which in turn means that the memory speed and low latencies have a much greater effect on the overall performance than usually.
With the new platform AMD also launched two new chipsets: A55 and A75. Now while I say chipset, I actually only mean southbridge, as the NB is integrated to the chip. And actually southbridge is wrong as well, because it's now renamed to Fusion Controller Hub. The main differences between these two FCHs is that the A75 is a modern one and packs the all important USB3- and S-ATA 3 ports and FIS-switching for S-ATA, while the A55 lacks native USB3-support and has to do with S-ATA 2. Ofcourse the A55-boards will be a touch cheaper, but really I recommend going for the A75.
We received the chip directly from AMD, so as usual, there's no retail box we could show you. Instead, looking at the chip from above it looks just like any AM2-AM3 CPU. The review sample is the current flagship A8-3850.
The FM1-chip has just 905 pins, instead of the 938 on the AM3-CPU on the right, and obviously the sockets are not compatible.
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