AMD Fusion: A8-3500M A-Series Llano APU Review

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AMD launched the first volley of their Fusion technology salvo late last year and since then thin-and-light notebook offerings from various major OEMs have come to market. AMD's Brazos platform and specifically the Zacate E-350 processor were obvious successes and the company was able to pull down many strong design wins with manufacturers like Lenovo and HP leading the charge, marketing the product's intrinsic benefits. AMD's E series Fusion processors offer Atom-like power consumption with more robust CPU and GPU performance, at netbook-like prices. To say the product was a success would be a total understatement. In fact, the company claims to have "sold out" of low cost Fusion processors and shipped over 5 million units. No matter how you do the math, it's huge.

Today, AMD is lifting the veil on their next generation mainstream mobile processor, code named Llano. This latest volley by AMD is aimed at hitting Intel right in the mid-section, where the bulk of multimedia capable notebooks are sold. These are higher-end machines, where the likes of Intel's new Sandy Bridge-based Core i5 and Core i7 dual and quad-core processors live.


AMD's New Fusion Line-up - A-Series Processors Address the Midrange and High-End

The platform we'll give you a look at today is AMD's A Series; specifically we have an A8 APU-based machine that we'll break down for your edification and spin up on the test bench so you can see its performance profile. Let's get a look at some specifics of the A8 Llano APU or "Application Processing Unit," as AMD calls it, along with its accompanying FCH or Fusion Controller Hub.


AMD Llano A-Series A-3500M APU Pin Layout

AMD A-Series APU Platform For Notebooks
Specifications & Features
Processors Package 32nm / FS1 722-pin lidless micro PGA, 35x35 mm, 1.2192 mm pitch
TDP Configs 35W and 45W configurations
Processor Core “Stars” 32nm HKMG process core (up to 4 cores), 128 KB L1 Cache(64 KB Instruction, 64 KB Data) 1 MB L2/Core, 128-bit FPUs
Memory Up to DDR3 1600 @ 1.5V, DDR3L 1333 @ 1.35V
Graphics Core Up to 400 Radeon Cores, DirectX 11 capable, UVD3
Displays Digital Display I/F DP0:
Display Port, HDMI, DVI
Digital Display I/F DP1
Display Port, HDMI, DVI -LVDS and VGA from Travis translator
Power Management • Multiple low-power states
• 32-nm process for decreased power consumption
• AMD AllDay power
• System Management Mode (SMM)
• ACPI-compliant, including support for processor performancestates (P-states), processor power states (C-states), and sleep states including S0, S3, S4, and S5
• Per core power gating (CC6)
• PCIe core power gating
• PCIe speed power policy
• GPU power gating of Radeon Cores and video decode (UVD3)
• AMD Turbo Core technology
AMD A60M / AMD A70M Fusion Controller Hub - FCH
Integrated DAC supporting VGA
Tech / Package 65nm / FC BGA, 605-Ball, 23x23mm, .8mm pitch
TDP Configs 2.7W to 4.7W for typical configurations
UMI x4 Gen 1 + DP
SATA 6 Ports, 6 Gbps
RAID Modes
0,1
USB Ports
A70M: 4 USB 3.0 Ports, 10 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports
A60M: 14 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports
PCIe General Purpose
4x1 Gen2
HWM Incorporates Fan Control, Voltage Level Sensing
Clock Gen Integrated
Power Rails SVID for VDDCR_CPU & VDDR_NB, fixed voltage for other rails
Software Drivers: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Linux
Firmware SBIOS, VBIOS, Diagnostics, Utilities

If you look closely at the spec list above (and didn't allow your eyes to glaze over), you'll note that the A-Series platform has virtually all the latest technologies built in.  There is support for HDMI, DisplayPort, PCI Express Gen 1 and 2, 6Gbps SATA and native USB 3.0.  In terms of all of the major notebook check-box items, AMD's A-Series has it all.

On the APU side of things, AMD A8-3500M mobile processor we'll be looking at in the pages ahead also has 400 Radeon cores on board (think roughly a Radeon HD 6500M series mobile GPU, but now coined the Radeon HD 6620G) along with four full AMD "Stars" or Phenom-class cores on board, all "fused" into a single 32nm die and a 722 pin microPGA package.  We have the higher-end 35 Watt variant in house for this piece. It has a stock speed of 2.4GHz with power gating down to 1.5GHz.  But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.  First, let's drop down to a lower level of detail on the A-Series Fusion architecture.

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I am not afraid to admit my eyes started to glass over but I refocused and read through it again. That being said it's a spunky little CPU and I hope AMD paints the town red; thereby causing Intel to respond in kind. Competition is the name of the game for me lads and which of these technology giants will get a portion of my paycheck is the bonus round.

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im glad AMD is putting the fire under intel's butt. Im excited to see these in laptops!

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There seem to be several laptop makers that are just tied to Intel - I wonder how much this will change with more capable Fusion APUs. I haven't had an AMD laptop yet due to their lack of performance in the mobile space, but I'm definitely going to have to compare AMD and Intel more the next time I'm due for a new laptop. Finally some competition!

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Good review Dave seeing that power draw was amazing.

It appears CPU power is of less importance as GPU power coupled with a solid CPU is the sweet spot. Unless you are doing some heavy multithreaded tasks.

Cant wait for retail to see what they price at.

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Wow, well i was thinking about getting a quad core E series notebook (next gen of course)...now im looking at an A series. Good to see AMD paying attention to the mobile market, cant wait to see these puppies in laptops. Obviously not going to be a huge competitor in terms of raw performance, but for the average consumer these are fantastic. Im definitely going to recommend this to my parents, as their Althon core from 2004 is in its death throes.

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nice job AMD....CZROXAS ROCKS....yeah...go AMD go!!!

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So I think I'm a super nerd until I read articles like this and you guys always put me in my place. This article is a bit over my head, great job with the review! This looks like a great chip for mainstream laptops and I've seen some announcements around for laptops that are taking advantage of the new tech. HP was one of the main ones like you said. Hopefully Lynx will preform well in the mainstream desktop arena. I love intel but way to go AMD!!!

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Wow! I'm not a die-hard of either Intel or AMD, I'll just go with whoever is better, so bring it on AMD, make Intel blush!

AMD is going to have to work hard with Intel using 3d tech in their chips, that will bring power usage down and performance up. It would be interesting if AMD went mainly to mobile and Intel went mainly to desktops, though I doubt that would happen fast as they both have stake in both, and neither wants to exit the scene.

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any one have any kind information the when they gonna release

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THIS is what I like. Back and forth innovation. I hope AMD makes a ton of money on this, and Intel come back with something even better.

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