AMD's Latest A-Series APU Targets Windows 10 PCs

The A8-7670K offers four CPU cores for Windows 10 workloads and six Radeon GPU cores for a strong online gaming experience.

AMD A Series

Advanced Micro Devices is rolling out the latest addition to its high-end A-Series processors that officials say will offer a strong experience for users running Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 operating system on their PCs.

AMD unveiled the A8-7670K accelerated processing unit (APU) July 20, with officials saying the 10-core desktop chip—four CPU cores and six Radeon R7 graphics cores—is aimed at mainstream PC workloads, with the quad-core performance for Windows 10 environments and the graphics capabilities for online gaming.

The discrete-level GPUs integrated onto the same silicon as the CPUs continue AMD's efforts to get its Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture into all of its chips, according to Adam Kozak, product marketing manager for AMD's Client and Graphics business unit.

"You get that common infrastructure," Kozak said during a conference call with journalists before the new APU was announced.

The chip is the latest member of the "Kaveri" family of APUs,and comes with a frequency that can ramp from 3.6GHz to 3.9GHz as well as 4MB of Level 2 cache. It comes with support for DirectX 12 and Mantle graphics APIs, Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features for improved communications between the CPU and GPU, and AMD's FreeSync technology for better display quality.

The chips, which are available now starting at $117.99, also can come unlocked to enable customization.

To enable a strong Windows 10 experience, AMD engineers worked to optimize drivers to enable Microsoft acceleration capabilities. That includes Microsoft's Edge browser and BitLocker encryption technology, video playback features and modern user interface, according to Kozak. There's also support for everything from wireless display, remote desktops, XboxOne streaming and GameDVR, to enable users to record their games for future playback, he said.

Microsoft is scheduled to release Windows 10 July 29.

The new chip is part of AMD's efforts to focus on such areas as high-end PCs and gaming as it works to return to profitability. President and CEO Lisa Su and other company executives were in New York City in May talking to financial analysts about their growth strategy, which also includes concentrating on the data center and immersive computing.

They had aimed to return the company to consistent profitability in the second half of the year, but those hopes were beaten back by a difficult second financial quarter that saw demand for consumer PCs fall more than expected, which helped drive AMD revenue down 35 percent over the same period in 2014 and resulted in a $181 million loss. Executives said the difficult PC market was forcing them to push back their profitability plans.

Su said in a conference call with analysts and journalists last week that while the quarter was disappointing, AMD would continue to push forward with its strategy, which on the PC side of things includes the "Carrizo" APU—which Su said will lead to more than 35 systems running Windows 10 hitting the market later this year—and the new "Zen" architecture, which is set to begin appearing in new chips next year.

Global PC demand has slipped over the past four years, though the decline was slowed in 2014 by Microsoft's ending of support for the Windows XP operating system, which forced businesses to upgrade their systems to run Windows 7 or 8. Officials with PC and component makers were hoping that this year's release of Windows 10 would offer a similar boost to the market, but analysts have warned that that most likely will not happen in the short term.

Microsoft has offered free Windows 10 upgrades for users of systems running Windows 7 or 8, which gives those PCs at least another three months of life. In addition, some OEMs are clearing out their inventories of Windows 7 and 8 systems, and are looking forward to using new processors from AMD (Carrizo) and Intel (Skylake) in upcoming systems.