Earlier this year we saw AMD launch its first Fusion accelerated processing unit (APU) called the Brazos platform (codenamed Zacate). Although the performance was not stellar, and certainly not meant to be, the engineering was a first, incorporating the world’s first on die GPU which was groundbreaking territory. The APU consisted of a dual core processor coupled with an on-die Radeon 6310. The platform was designed for low power consumption at an excellent price.
The launch went rather well with many OEM manufacturers producing items such entry level laptops and consumers looking for HTPC (Home Theater PC’s) at low prices along with entry level computing. The winning formula was better graphics than AMD’s rival Intel’s Atom The experience was more than adequate at an entry level price point as in our E-350 reviews.
June saw another introduction of AMD’s Fusion technology with Llano APU. using a much better quad core accelerated processing unit coupled with an on die Radeon 6550D which could run Crossfire with a select add card namely 6500-6700 series graphics. The quad core was AMD’s x86 architecture and in our inaugural A8-3850 review, we saw close to 90% of processing power core for core compared to AMD’s long lived Phenom II quad core processors. Coming in at $135 with mid-range performance and above average graphic capabilities makes the Llano APU’s one of the greatest bangs for the buck we have seen in a long time. Zacate, Llano and Bulldozer in our opinion, gave AMD a good/better/best strategy but Zacate has gone by the wayside with the value of these low priced Llano APUs. Now Llano becomes AMD’s starting segment and the wide variety of Bulldozer-based CPUs (four to eight core) finishing AMD’s trifecta.
The only downside (if you can call it that) of the inaugural Llano APU’s was a locked multiplier. The only option is raising the reference clock which raises the core speed. Also, the on-die GPU made the APU unstable reaching speeds of about 3.4GHz. Using a dedicated GPU allowed us to bump the APU to 3.9GHz which we felt was outstanding for the APU.
Now we have our hands on AMD’s improved A-Series APU named the A8-3870K, which comes with an improved on-die GPU and an unlocked multiplier that should overclock even better. Hopefully these improvements will provide improved performance for the enthusiast looking to save some money.
Let’s see how things shake out.