AMD A8-3850 Llano APU Reviewajmatson -
Price: $135 (Approx)
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We have seen some really great products coming out of the mainstream market. With a constant flow of new memory, solid state drives, motherboards and CPUs, there is everything we can dream of to pick from. Recently, we took a look at a new approach to processor designs from AMD with the Fusion APU which integrates the CPU and GPU on a processor soldered directly to the motherboard. This design was a direct competitor to the Intel Atom offerings and really did a great job, exceeding expectations and bringing together the new market for powerful but small platforms. AMD has upped the ante with a new processor which is aimed at bridging the gap between the lower Fusion APU platform and the higher-end Phenom II series. Dubbed Llano, this new APU design places together a 32nm central processing unit and a discrete graphics processing unit into a single chip allowing you to get the most power out of your system.
Today we are going to be taking a look at the flagship A-series APU the A8-3850. This processor integrates the CPU, GPU and Northbridge functions into a single chip designed to be faster and more efficient than having them as separate components. The A8-3850 is clocked at 2.9 GHz and manufactured using a 32nm process. The A8-3850 features a new Socket FM1 for the new design and supports DDR3 memory up to 1866MHz, has a 512KB L1 cache and a 1MB per core L2 cache for a total 4MB L2 cache. This processor is designed for mainstream systems looking for the best processing power for the money. Set to be priced at around $135 for the processor, this is going to be a platform destined to make a name for itself. The graphics core integrated into the APU is the Radeon HD 6550D series which has 400 Radeon cores, 20 Texture units, 5 SMIDs, and is clocked at a fast 600MHz. The peak GPU compute power for the IGP is 480GFLOPS and offers full DirectX 11 support. All that in a little chip? Amazing isn't it? Well if you are as excited as I am, how about we dive in and start off with a look at the APU.
The AMD A8-3850 processor, at first glance, looks like the AM3 CPU line but don't let it fool you. If you flip over the processor, you can really get a look at the differences by checking out the pin setup. The Socket FM1 has a set of missing pins in the middle of the processor unlike the AM2+ and AM3 line which is fully covered from edge to edge with pins. Socket FM1 has 905 pins compared to the 941 pins of a Socket AM3 processor. The A8-3850 is clocked at a generous 2.9GHz and has a per core L2 cache of 1MB. There is no L3 cache on these APU chips so I am curious as to how much of a difference that will make. The A8 APU is manufactured using a 32nm process and has a die size of 228mm2. What is all this talk about APUs? If you have been living in a hole for the last six months, this is what the new processor is called. APU stands for Advanced Processing Unit and has a CPU and a GPU (graphics processing unit) all on the same die. This combination gives you a better all-in-one solution for your system build. The A8 series APU integrates the Radeon HD 6550D graphics for smooth video playback and better graphics. With full DirectX 11 support, 400 Radeon cores, and a 600MHz GPU clock speed, you will be ready to do some damage. This particular model has a max TDP of 100 watts and supports DDR3 memory up to 1866MHz overclocked.
Of course with a new socket comes a new platform. Next up, we will take a look at one of the new Socket FM1 motherboards designed for the A8-3850 APU.