AMD Unveils New Desktop APUs to Compete With Intel Core Chips

AMD officials said the new A-Series APUs will offer better performance than competing Intel processors while also costing less.

Advanced Micro Devices officials say their new A-Series chips for desktops strike the right balance between performance and cost, beating similar chips from larger rival Intel in both categories.

AMD is offering some details on two of its upcoming next-generation accelerated processing units (APUs), both quad-core chips aimed at the entry-level and mainstream desktop market. The A10-5800K and A8-5600K, which will be available Oct. 2, are designed to offer a significant performance boost over the desktop APUs released last year, according to Adam Kozak, desktop product marketing manager at AMD.

The A10-5800K will offer a base speed of 3.8GHz, but can be overclocked when necessary to hit speeds of 4.2GHz. At the same time, the 3.6GHz A8-5600K can be overclocked to 3.9GHz. Both can be unlocked, enabling users to increase the speed of both the CPU and graphics technology. They promise a 25 to 37 percent improvement in system performance speed over the previous generation of APUs, dubbed Llano, according to AMD.

For years, both AMD and Intel upped the performance of their chips by cranking up the speed. However, over the past several years, as density and power efficiency became an increasing concern, the vendors have shifted away from raw speed toward adding more cores and features—including integrated graphics, such as on AMD’s APUs and Intel’s latest architectures—to their chips.

However, in some environments, including desktops, they still enable users to ramp up the speed of their processors, depending on the workloads, and still boast about the speed their chips can hit. During a Web presentation to journalists Sept. 26, Kozak noted that it “should be obvious and apparent from the 2011 APU that the 2012 APU is even faster and even stronger against Intel products.”

The new APUs also will include integrated Radeon HD 7000 graphics.

While pricing won’t be announced until the chips are released, he said the new Trinity-based 32-nanometer chips are aimed at entry-level and mainstream desktops, giving these systems high-end performance at a mid-level price. As they look to compete with Intel, AMD officials have touted the price/performance capabilities of their chips in comparison to Intel’s processors, arguing that users get high performance at a lower price.

AMD officials are eyeing PC enthusiasts and gamers with these chips, touting the greater performance of games on the APUs, which offer integrated graphics and CPUs on the same piece of silicon.

Along with the A10-5800K and A8-5600K, AMD also unveiled the A6-5400K, A10-5700, A8-5500 and A4-4300. The “K” designates chips that can be unclocked.

The new chips are based on a new core platform called Piledriver, which initially came out on new Trinity notebook chips released in May. Those second-generation APUs were launched to compete with Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge chips, with AMD officials saying they would offer the performance and power-efficiency capabilities that will enable them to stand up against the products from their larger rival.

The Trinity notebook chips have power envelopes as low as 17 watts and a battery life of eight hours or more. The hope is that between the energy efficiency and lower unit costs, the Trinity mobile chips will pave the way for the development of “ultrathins,” very light and thin notebooks that could compete with Intel’s Ultrabooks.