Differentiating Richland 2013 APUs
As we’ve mentioned, AMD’s new Richland-based Elite A-Series APUs are an update to an existing design (Trinity) that’s meant to improve the company’s competitive positioning against Intel--for the next few months at least. AMD’s upcoming Kaveri APUs, which are slated to arrive before the end of the year, will feature brand-new CPU cores based on the Steamroller microarchitecture and an updated GPU block that leverages AMD’s GCN (Graphics Core Next) microarchitecture, just like current-generation discrete Radeon products.
Richland, however, still features Piledriver-based CPU cores and Northern Island-class, VLIW4 graphics, despite the fact that the GPUs have been branded with Radeon HD 8000-series model numbers. The good news is that Richland is a drop-in upgrade for existing platforms. These new Elite A-Series APUs work with current A55, A75, and A85X chipsets and use the same socket FM2. The bad news is that they don’t offer any true next-gen features, and their performance uplift isn’t huge.
What AMD has done with these new Elite A-Series APUs is leverage data gathered by on-die temperature sensors to offer significantly better power management and dynamic frequency boosting; AMD is calling this Hybrid Boost. The thermal sensors were always present on Trinity, but the engineering effort to use the data provided by them wasn’t completed in time for Trinity’s original launch. With Richland, actual temperature data is used to supplement AMD’s existing power-driven calculations to more aggressively boost frequencies and wring more performance from the parts at similar or lower power envelopes. Tuning of the fabrication process over time has also allowed AMD to improve voltage and frequency margins. What all that means is that Richland, while fundamentally similar to Trinity, should be able to hit higher frequencies at lower voltages and power envelopes and more intelligently use Turbo to boost performance further.
In fact, all of the new Richland APUs launching today can boost well above 4GHz, with the same 100w or 65w TDPs of their predecessors. We’ve got the two highest-end Elite A-Series APUs on tap for you here, the A10-6800K and A10-6700. Like previous-gen APUs (and Intel’s current processors), the “K” in the product name denotes an unlocked processor with CPU, GPU, and Memory multipliers that can be freely manipulated by end users.
The new lineup consists of five APUs, two of which are unlocked. The various CPU, GPU, and cache configurations of the chips are outlined above. As you’ll see, the highest-end parts feature quad-CPU cores with 384 Radeon cores and 4MB of total cache. The top end APUs have GPU cores clocked at 844MHz (a 44MHz increase over Trinity) with boost clocks that top out at lofty 4.4GHz. We should also note that the top-end part, the A10-6800K, has been validated for use with DDR3-2133MHz memory. The rest of the APUs max out at 1866MHz. That additional frequency headroom on the A10-6800K’s memory controller results in a marginal increase in GPU performance, as you’ll see a little later.
To further differentiate their Elite A-Series APUs for 2013, AMD is also offering different software bundles. The top of the line A10 parts will include some games from AMD’s Never Settle Bundle along with AMD’s entire suite of customized apps. The rest of the parts will include some, but not all of the applications. The complete breakdown is listed in the slide above, and we’ll simply quote AMD for descriptions of the applications...
- AMD Face Login – Uses facial recognition technology and a webcam to allow for quick log-in to Windows and other browser-based websites that require a log-in, like social networking sites and email services;
- AMD Gesture Control – Tracks a user’s hand gestures and converts them into commands for basic functions on media players, browsers, e-readers and other popular applications leveraging a webcam, advanced image processing and machine-vision algorithms;
- AMD Screen Mirror – Wirelessly shares content like photos, videos, HD media streams and webpages from a PC or tablet based on a 2013 AMD A-Series APU with any supported TV or display with a DLNA receiver, or with other PCs. Available only on select AMD-based devices;
- AMD Video Entertainment Features – Make your content look its very best: AMD Steady Video technology gives users push-button control over shaky home video and helps stabilize the images for better viewing; AMD Quick Stream technology7 enables smooth video streaming and a virtually interruption free streaming experience; and AMD Perfect Picture HD8, creates rich and lifelike color on video entertainment.