AMD Launches First APU For Desktop PCs


AMD rolls out the Fusion A-Series, its first APU’s for desktop users looking for a high-end graphics experience

Advanced Micro Devices is bringing its Fusion processors to the desktop.

AMD officials in January at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show launched the first of their Fusion APUs (accelerated processing units), which offer high-performance graphics on the same piece of silicon as the CPU and integrated memory controller, a move designed to improve computing and graphics performance while driving down power consumption.

Those first APUs — and subsequent ones — have focused primarily on the notebook space, as well as the embedded market. On June 30, AMD rolled out the Fusion A-Series A8-3850 and A6-3650 APUs for desktops, giving users what AMD officials said is high-definition graphics, supercomputer-like performance and fast application speeds.

An AMD first for desktop

Both 32-nanometer chips combine four x86 CPU cores with AMD’s DirectX 11-capable graphics, and up to 400 Radeon cores and dedicated high-definition video processing. The A8-3850 runs at 2.9GHz, while the A6-3650 runs at 2.6GHz.

The chips are the first desktop APUs from AMD’s “Llano” family of APUs for mainstream PCs. The first Llano notebook chips rolled out earlier in June.

The chip vendor is targeting the new Fusion A-Series APUs for systems ranging in price from $400 to $600.

In a blog post on the AMD Website, Sasa Marinkovic, senior manager of desktop and AMD software product marketing, said the vendor’s new APUs are the latest indication that despite assertions by some in the industry, the PC is not going away anytime soon.

PC here to stay

“Many consumers are under the impression that the PC is dead, but we beg to differ and our new A-Series APU will surely surprise you in the best way possible,” Marinkovic wrote. “We realise that we live in an increasingly digital and visually oriented world and that consumers demand more responsive multi-tasking, vivid graphics, lifelike games, lag-free videos and the ultimate multimedia performance.

“I believe people are buying PCs today for an outstanding visual experience, one in which all the component parts are equal partners. And in the new world, focusing simply on the raw power and speed of the CPU is an outdated concept. The world is ready for an evolutionary step, a new paradigm exemplified in our new A-Series APUs.”

AMD’s Fusion chips compete with Intel processors based on the “Sandy Bridge” architecture, which also integrates the graphics and CPU on the same die and were similarly first released at the CES 2011 show.

Superior graphics

Initial reviews of AMD’s A8-3850 indicate that the chip performs basic computing functions well, if not great, but that it really shines in the graphics area. PC Magazine’s review said the AMD chip performed better than Intel’s higher-end Core i5-2500K. Hot Hardware said that Intel’s technology has it all over AMD’s in the area of computing, but that AMD’s focus on the graphics side of the equation gives the A8-3850 the edge over Intel in that area.

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