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AMD fires back at Intel's Haswell with its A-Series desktop processors

Mark Hachman | June 6, 2013
AMD has launched its latest A-series APUs, which integrate powerful graphics and microprocessor technology to take on Intel's latest microprocessor, Haswell.

"Intel has a lock on the commercial PC market, so AMD is left competing in the consumer space," Moorhead said in an email. "In that space, AMD had some key execution problems that drove to decreased desktop and notebook market share" - specifically, the fact that the previous generation, "Trinity," arrived late and missed the key-to-school selling season, he said. Trinity's predecessor, "Llano," also suffered manufacturing problems. Llano had 32nm manufacturing and supply challenges and Trinity came late to market, missing the back to school market.

In this regard, AMD has made some effort to ease the transition from one generation to the other. The new A-series parts use the same FM2 socket as AMD's previous "Trinity" chips, for example.

Graphics sell the PC
For years, games and graphics have sold PCs, and the A-series is no different. AMD's argument is that, by itself, its highest-end A10 APUs should outperform the combination of a Core i5 4670K+ (the older "Ivy Bridge" parts) and an Nvidia GT 630 discrete chip. AMD also claims that the pairing an A10-6800K with a AMD HD 6570 will outperform a similar Core i5 4670K, also with a Radeon HD 6570 running alongside. These are cherry-picked benchmarks, granted, but they're worth a second look if you're concerned about cost.

The idea is that the processor portion of the APU, once the focus of all development, has taken a back seat to improving graphics over the past few years. "We're really adament about balanced architectures being the future of computing," Kozak said.  Don't expect any free games to be bundled with the Richland parts--the industry is just in a relatively dead zone for new games, Kozak added. AMD will also sell an optimized DDR3-2133 memory and an FM2 motherboard line for gamers wishing to configure a tuned, all-AMD PC, AMD said.

The future
Traditionally, AMD's combination of a GPU and microprocessor on the same die has been in name only - the two chips have used separate logic, memory pools, and paging. AMD is moving toward a model where the CPU and GPU better share resources, known as heterogenous computing. At Computex, AMD showed off the next generation of the technology in a chip known as "Kaveri," reportedly due in the second half of 2013.

AMD also showed off the fruits of a partnership with Splashtop, where the APU can be used as an engine to stream PC games to nearby mobile devices - clearly a response to Nvidia, whose Project Shield technology can do the same thing.


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