Buy a cheap graphics card and get a free attached CPU, Llano's mixed results

Subject: Processors | June 30, 2011 - 09:20 AM |
Tagged: lynx, llano, igp, amd, a8-3850, 6550d, 3850

Long story short, the new AMD A8-3850 simply can't compete with Intel's SandyBridge processors as an x86 CPU but as an integrated GPU it is better than anything we or The Tech Report have seen before

The actual story is far more complicated for the Llano true quad core processor.  On the CPU side of the APU equation, it can handle the Core i3-2100 which is it's closest competition on the majority of multithreaded tasks, though it falls behind on single threaded applications.  The price war is also on AMD's side as you would need to pair a discrete GPU with the i3-2100 in order to match the graphics performance.  The other very important are where AMD falls is power consumption; sure at idle it uses very little power but when operating at full speed it consumes almost as much power as an i7-2600.

On the GPU side we see better gaming performance than anything else out there, assuming you stick to DX10 and DX11 games as DX9 games can have some issues with Llano.  That holds especially true of Hybrid Crossfire, as when Ryan paired the A8-3850 with discrete Radeon cards he ran into difficulties in some games.  You can read about that in his full review.

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"AMD's "Llano" APU makes a compelling proposition as a laptop chip, but its position on the desktop is more precarious. Read on to find out why—and whether it can overcome that hurdle."

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Processors

AMD A-Series Desktop Processors Set the APU Bar

Subject: Processors | June 30, 2011 - 07:51 AM |
Tagged: lynx, llano, igp, amd, a8-3850, 6550d, 3850

AMD (NYSE:AMD) today announced availability for the AMD Fusion A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors. The AMD A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors will enable a high- performance experience for desktop users, including brilliant HD graphics, supercomputer-like performance, and incredibly fast application speeds.

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Both the AMD A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors combine four x86 CPU cores with powerful DirectX®11-capable discrete-level graphics, and up to 400 Radeon™ cores along with dedicated HD video processing on a single chip. Only AMD Fusion APUs offer true AMD Dual Graphics, with up to 120 percent visual performance boost*, when paired with select AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 Series graphics cards. Consumers can achieve supercomputer-like performance of more than 500 gigaflops compute capacity and enjoy rapid content transfers via USB 3.0.

All A-Series processors are powered by AMD VISION Engine Software, which is composed of AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver, AMD OpenCL driver and the AMD VISION Engine Control Center. With this suite of software, users get regular updates designed to improve system performance and stability, and can add new software enhancements.

With a suggested retail price of $135, the AMD A8-3850 desktop processor operates at 2.9GHz (CPU) and 600MHz (GPU) with 400 Radeon™ Cores, 4MB of L2 cache and a TDP of 100W.

The AMD A6-3650 desktop processor has clock speeds of 2.6GHz (CPU) and 443MHz (GPU) with 320 Radeon™ Cores, 4MB of L2 cache and a TDP of 100W. The suggested retail price of the AMD A6-3650 desktop processor is $115.

In an increasingly digital and visually oriented world, consumers demand more responsive multitasking, vivid graphics, lifelike games, lag-free videos, and ultimate multimedia performance. AMD A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors enable these visually stunning end-user experiences.

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FM1 motherboards for the A-Series APUs are available now from leading original design manufacturers (ODMs), including ASUS, ASRock, Biostar, ECS, Foxconn (Hong Hai Precision), Gigabyte, Jetway, MSI and Sapphire.

AMD A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors are scheduled to be available for purchase through system builders and at major online retailers, including Amazon, CyberPower Inc., iBuyPower, Newegg and TigerDirect beginning July 3, 2011. Additional processors are scheduled to be available later this year.

AMD A8-3850 and A6-3650 desktop processors, and the corresponding FM1 motherboards, were created with desktop consumers and gamers in mind.

Read about the AMD A-Series features and performance here.
Learn about the software advantage with AMD A-Series desktop processors here.

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Architecture Details

Introduction

Just a couple of weeks ago we took the cover off of AMD's Llano processor for the first time in the form of the Sabine platform: Llano's mobile derivative.  In that article we wrote in great detail about the architecture and how it performed on the stage of the notebook market - it looked very good when compared to the Intel Sandy Bridge machines we had on-hand.  Battery life is one of the most important aspects of evaluating a mobile configuration with performance and features taking a back seat the majority of the time.  In the world of the desktop though, that isn't necessarily the case. 

Desktop computers, even those meant for a low-cost and mainstream market, don't find power consumption as crucial and instead focus on the features and performance of your platform almost exclusively.  There are areas where power and heat are more scrutinized such as the home theater PC market and small form-factor machines but in general you need to be sure to hit a homerun with performance per dollar in this field.  Coming into this article we had some serious concerns about Llano and its ability to properly address this specifically. 

How did our weeks with the latest AMD Fusion APU turn out?  There is a ton of information that needed to be addressed including a look at the graphics performance in comparison to Sandy Bridge, how the quad-core "Stars" x86 CPU portion stands up to modern options, how the new memory controller affects graphics performance, Dual Graphics, power consumption and even a whole new overclocking methodology.  Keep reading and you'll get all the answers you are looking for.

Llano Architecture

We spent a LOT of time in our previous Llano piece discussing the technical details of the new Llano Fusion CPU/GPU architecture and the fundamentals are essentially identical from the mobile part to the new desktop releases.  Because of that, much of the information here is going to be a repeat with some minor changes in the forms of power envelopes, etc.  

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The platform diagram above gives us an overview of what components will make up a system built on the Llano Fusion APU design.  The APU itself is made up 2 or 4 x86 CPU cores that come from the Stars family released with the Phenom / Phenom II processors.  They do introduce a new Turbo Core feature that we will discuss later that is somewhat analogous to what Intel has done with its processors with Turbo Boost.

Continue reading our AMD A-series Llano desktop review for all the benchmarks and information!