AMD has formally announced its second-generation A-Series mobile processors, which the company hopes will finally win significant market share in a sector within which it has long since trailed Intel. The new chips will be used in a broad range of laptops, from ultraportable, Ultrabook-like models all the way up to fairly powerful desktop replacement models, with notebooks branded as AMD Vision A6, A8 and A10.0
A completely new design compared to last year’s Llano A-Series chips, the new range features a new CPU core design (Piledriver) based on the company’s latest desktop CPU designs (Bulldozer), new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series DX11-compatible graphics cores and a new HD Media Accelerator that contains video decoding and encoding accelerators. Crucially, the new design also features significantly improved power consumption figures which should lead to better battery life – AMD’s traditional weak spot.
These power savings come despite using the same 32nm manufacturing process as last year’s Llano chips. AMD in fact claims a doubling in performance-per-watt with the new design. The result is battery life up to 11 hours according to AMD.
AMD also says that performance of the new Piledriver core is some 29 per cent faster than last year’s Husky cores. Meanwhile graphics performance is expected to be on par with some dedicated graphics cards, and far exceed all current integrated graphics from both Intel and AMD.
Another new addition is Turbo core 3.0. Like Turbo Core of old this can dynamically increase the clock speed of portions of the CPU depending on the workload, but this time it also works on the GPU, allowing for even better performance balancing.
Five models will be available at launch with each having marked differences and being aimed at a specific segment of the market. A10-4600 will top the table with four CPU cores and a graphics engine with 384 cores, then there’s A8-4500 that’s quad-core with 256 graphics cores and A6-4400 which is dual-core with 192 graphics cores. Then follow two smaller models meant for the ultraportable market, the A10-4655 (quad-core plus 384 graphics both running at slower cloc speed than A10-4600) and A6-4455 (dual-core with 256 graphics cores). The full lineup is shown below.
Also coming with support for AMD’s Eyefinity technology, the new chips can theoretically run up to three monitors at the same time for, amongst other things, surround gaming. Helping to enable this is further support for adding in a second dedicated graphics chip from AMD’s latest mobile range; the two can work together to boost graphics performance significantly without major impact on battery life.
We’ve spent some time with a test laptop configured with an A10-4600 and will be posting a review very shortly. Otherwise keep your eyes peeled for system’s sporting the new chips arriving in the next few months.