AMD A10 and A8 Trinity APU: Virgo Desktop Experience

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Virgo Platform, Socket FM2

Accompanying AMD’s new Trinity-based APUs for desktop systems is a new chipset and socket, the A85 FCH and socket FM2, and of course new motherboards featuring both…


AMD A85 FCH (Hudson D4) Block Diagram

 

 
The A85 Chipset and Socket FM2 Exposed

Above is a high-level block diagram of the A85 (Hudson D4) controller hub. On many levels, this chipset is similar to the A75/A55 that was used with Llano, but the A85 allows for different PCI Express lane configurations and has 8 SATA 3.0 ports with RAID capabilities, up from six in the previous gen. Other features include HD Audio, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 USB 1.1 ports. In addition there are SD and IR controllers present and legacy PCI support (for up to three slots). Like the A75, the A85 also connects to the APU using AMD’s Unified Media Interface (UMI), which offers 2GB/s of bandwidth.


AMD's A10-5800K FM2 904 Pin Layout

As for the new socket, FM2 was created to add support for additional voltage rails for the Piledriver cores and additional connectivity for the displays that run off of the APU, enabling AMD Eyefinity technology. We should note that socket FM2 is not backwards compatible with FM1. There is one fewer pin on FM2 APUs (904 vs. 905), and the pins are keyed differently to prevent insertion into differing sockets. While FM1’s lifetime was relatively short, especially by AMD’s standards, we’re told FM2 will be around much longer, thanks to the changes made to the socket to support desktop Trinity and future mainstream APU designs.

 

 
ASUS F2A85-M PRO Socket FM2 Motherboard

Here we have the ASUS F2A85-M PRO. The ASUS F2A85-M PRO is a fairly feature rich motherboards, despite is Micro-ATX form factor. In addition to exploiting all of the features inherent to the A85X chipset, this board offers what ASUS calls its “Dual Intelligent Processors 2” along with a number of other interesting features. The Dual Intelligent Processors consist of ASUS’ EPU unit, which we’ve covered in the past, and the TurboV processing unit. The processors work together with the F2A85-M PRO’s digital VRM (DIGI+ VRM) and give users the ability to monitor and adjust power delivery on the fly. According to ASUS, the combination of the programmable digital VRM and Dual Intelligent Processors 2 results in superior efficiency and longevity. The F2A85-M PRO also offers USB 3.0 Boost technology (which we covered here), high-speed USB charging capabilities, and real-time network bandwidth controls.


The ASUS F2A85-M PRO offers a host of I/O connectivity, including four display outputs

The ASUS F2A85-M PRO also supports AMD dual-graphics and CrossFireX and ASUS includes a copy of their AI Suite II, which gives users easy access to all of the ASUS-proprietary features mentioned here in a single software package. In addition to the aforementioned features, the F2A85-M PRO also sports a UEFI BIOS with one-click overclocking and tuning that’s navigable using a mouse. Like many of the UEFIs we’ve seen on previous ASUS-built boards, the version included on the F2A85-M PRO is one of the cleanest and easiest to navigate that we have come across. We should also point out that the board is Windows 8 ready, but official certification won’t come until future BIOS / drivers that have been qualified are released.


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