Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AMD's Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video)


AMD's Llano platform has been on our radar for more than two years, and finally, the company has come clean with its latest class of hybrid CPU / GPU chips, officially dubbed the Fusion A-Series. Unlike the low-power flavor of Fusion accerlated processing units already on the market, these 32-nanometer APUs were designed with desktops and mainstream laptops in mind, taking direct aim at Intel's Core 2011 processors with the promise of superior processing and discrete-level graphics, and 10-plus hours of battery life.

Aside from the assorted performance and battery life claims the company is making (much more on that in a moment), what this means is that as far as laptops go, AMD is completely stepping away from the standalone-CPU-plus-GPU paradigm. But, the company will still make dedicated Radeon cards, which can be coupled with an APU for a 75 percent boost in graphics performance -- a setup AMD is calling "Dual Graphics." All told, these chips measure just 228 square millimeters. To put this in context, check out the gallery of hands-on shots below, featuring the A-series next to a standalone CPU, discrete graphics card, and, for the sake of scale, the kind of low-power Fusion chip introduced back at CES.

A-Series-equipped PCs are already shipping, and AMD says we can expect to see at least 150 of them this year. That sounds promising indeed, but we've still got lots of technical details to rehash. Head on past the break for the full spill on what these APUs pledge to do, along with a video of AMD senior product marketing manager Raymond Dumbeck showing off some A-series laptops in action.

The A-Series includes seven laptop APUs across three families, and offers up to 4MB of cache, and clock speeds as high as 1.9GHz in the dual-core A4 chips -- up to 2.5 GHz if you take into account AMD's Turbo Core technology. These chips are also stereoscopic 3D-capable, and support for USB 3.0, DirectX 11, OpenCL / OpenGL, AMD Wireless Display, and both 1600MHz DDR3 and low-power 1333MHz DDR3L memory.

Like we said, AMD isn't shying away from direct comparisons with Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs. The APUs promise more than ten and a half hours of resting battery life with the help of power gating, and AMD makes the pointed claim that its quad-core A8-3510MX APU can last more than three and a half hours longer than a dual-core Core i5-2410M processor. And the explicit one-upmanship doesn't end there. AMD also says that its dual-core A4 chips will compete with Core i3 CPUS, with the quad-core A6 going after i3 and i5, and the quad-core A8 taking on i5 and i7. Systems with the A4, A6, and A8 chips are expected to start around $499, $599, and $699, respectively.

Graphics-wise, the A-Series has up to 400 shader cores, depending on the model, and ushers in two additions to AMD's Vision Engine: AMD Perfect Picture HD, which cleans up 1080p video post-processing, and AMD Steady Video, which compensates camera shake in movies. As you can imagine, we're impatiently waiting to get our first A-Series laptop in to review so that we can test all these claims, but until then, get your fill of details with the chart, PR, and video below.

Modelx86 coresL2 cacheShader coresClock speed (base/max)GPU clock speed
A4-3300MDual-core2MB2401.9GHz/2.5GHz444MHz
A4-3310MXDual-core2MB2402.1GHz/2.5GHz444MHz
A6-3400MQuad-core4MB3201.4GHz/2.3GHz400MHz
A6-3410MXQuad-core4MB3201.6GHz/2.3GHz400MHz
A8-3500MQuad-core4MB4001.5GHz/2.4GHz444MHz
A8-3510MXQuad-core4MB4001.8GHz/2.5GHz444MHz
A8-3530MXQuad-core4MB4001.9GHz/2.6GHz444MHz

ModelRadeon graphicsTDPMax DDR3/DDR3L
A4-3300MHD 6480G35W1333MHz/1333MHZ
A4-3310MXHD 6480G45W1333MHz/1333MHZ
A6-3400MHD 6520G35W1333MHz/1333MHZ
A6-3410MXHD 6520G45W1600MHz/1333MHz
A8-3500MHD 6620G35W1333MHz/1333MHZ
A8-3510MXHD 6620G45W1600MHz/1333MHz
A8-3530MXHD 6620G45W1600MHz/1333MHz


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