AMD 2nd Generation A10 5800 & A8 5600 Desktop APU Reviewformerstaff - October 2, 2012
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The Trinity A-series is really a ground up effort from AMD starting at the core with well, new cores. The Trinity uses the new 'Piledriver' cores, which are improved versions of the Bulldozer cores released last year to at best luke warm fanfare. The target has been aimed at 10-15% overall improvement in performance over the Bulldozer with a heavy emphasis on IPC to improve single-threaded performance. The new cores have also gained the latest ISA instructions including FMA4/3, AVX, AES, and XOP; instruction sets that were not included in the Llano. Also improved are branch prediction and cache enhancements, both thought to be at the heart of the under-performing single-threaded performance of the original Bulldozer cores.
The maximum turbo boost is 4.2GHz thanks to AMD's Turbo Core 3.0 that adds frequency boost to both CPU and GPU cores and can be software controlled in AMD's AOD program. The L2 cache has also been doubled to 4MB total or 2MB per dual-core module and incorporate 1.3 billion transistors, which is roughly the same as the last generation. There is more than the CPU + GPU Fusion going on here. Notice the unified northbridge, the new DDR3 memory controller supporting 1866MHz memory, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 DVI controllers, 24 PCIe lanes (16 of which can be used for Crossfire on A85X chipsets), and the AMD HD media accelerator and video converter.The only thing missing that I was anticipating in this incarnation of AMD's APU is L3 cache, which will be found on the upcoming FX line of Piledrivers.
While the CPU side of things on the Trinity my not be able to keep up with the compute power of the modern offerings of the competition, AMD has made some powerful changes to the GPU side of the die over the Llano series it replaces. While the previous flagship to Llano (3870K) had 400 shader cores compared to the 384 shader cores of the A10-5800K, the performance increase is sizable to say the least and here is why. The Llano GPU is based on the HD 5000 series graphics architecture. The Trinity gpu is based on the VLIW4 Northern Islands architecture, which is found in the Radeon HD 6900 series and is more efficient and handles tessellation much better. The graphics engine packed into the A10-5800K is called the HD 7660D. The A8-5600K has the 7560D with 256 shader cores. Keep in mind that the A-series lineup includes A6 and A4 economy models with much less graphic capabilities. Below is a look at the Trinity's A10 VLIW4 Graphics with six SIMD engines, 24 texture units, and eight ROPs.
Also in the GPU side and new to Trinity is the hardware video encoding and decoding UVD3 that is used in the GCN's video codecs engine to offload CPU. This includes AMD Picture Perfect support with HD post processing technologies. This is also the first and only processor to support Eyefinity 3+1 displays with Display Port 1.2 meaning Eyefinity can be run from the motherboard and the onboard graphics.
Platform updates include AMD Crossfire support with A85X motherboards, AMD memory profile support that will auto detect memory timings in select DIMMs, and AMD Dual Graphics enhancements including easier installation steps and DirectX 9, 10, and 11 support for more titles. All in all an exciting platform shaping up with improved CPU and memory support, much improved GPU architecture, a full featured accelerated video converter, unified northbridge, Eyefinity/DP 1.2 support, and more discreet pairing options and improvements. Below is a look at how the platform all fits together. Turn the page for a look at the A85X motherboard before we heat this APU up.