AMD Unleashes Richland : Elite A-series Desktop APUs – Is Intel Sweating Already?

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AMD unleashed their elite range of desktop APUs (Accelerated Processor Units) powered by the irresistible combination of their Piledriver CPU architecture and the Radeon HD 8000 series graphics on the FM2 motherboard infrastructure.

The AMD A10 6800K APU

The unveiling took place at a star studded event in Bangalore, with the stars of the event being the tech literati from across India. As a member of the gathering what stood out for me was the effort put in by AMD and the organizers, and no I am not referring to the stand up comedian who almost stole the limelight from the dynamite in the small box – the Richland APU.

AMD’s Ed Caracappa was at the event. Image courtesy : AMD

For the uninitiated, AMD’s Richland APUs offer upto 15 percent increased graphics performance over its predecessor Trinity, thanks to GPU clock speeds measuring upto 844 MHz and a max DDR3 of 2133 MHz memory.

When AMD introduced the first generation APU a couple of years ago, the world sat up and took notice. The APU is AMD’s effort to bring the CPU and the GPU together in one chip. They achieved it with Llano, bettered it with Trinity and have now added Richland to that list.

So what makes AMD and Richland top Intel and its current brand of products like the Haswell?

  • The APU is both backward as well as forward compatible. Which means it can support existing platforms like A85X, A75 and A55, while at the same time providing support for the FM2+ motherboard infrastructure, so you can buy this great APU now and upgrade later next year.
  • All generations of AMD’s GPUs have outscored Intel’s effort in the GPU segment. Intel’s Ivy bridge and Haswell don’t stack up too well against either Trinity or Richland mainly because AMD’s primary focus has been on improving the gaming experience through the GPU and not solely concentrating on the CPU.
  • AMD’s exploits in the cloud and web space make them well poised to use the Piledriver architecture powering both Richland and Trinity to make inroads into the cloud gaming arena, which is set to grow in the upcoming years. This gives AMD a head start when compared to their competitors.

I have been following AMD’s APU progress over the years and clearly recall when AMD released the first generation APU the Llano in 2011, comparisons were made to the Intel i3-2105. And needless to say that the Intel chip won hands down in the CPU category. Llano’s CPU was actually criticized for being a poor performer all round. But when it came to the GPU AMD pipped Intel. Even the first generation APU provided support for DirectX 11, Open GL 4.2 and Open CL 1.2 while Intel’s GPUs in the same range didn’t.

The tech literati at the ‘AMD 2020 Game event.

AMD’s USP has been their low cost alternatives to their rivals. Even Mr. Ravi Swaminathan, the corporate VP and MD of AMD India spoke of AMD as a great alternative to its high priced competitors. At a suggested retail price of $142 the top APU in the A-series, the A10-6800k is indeed a great low cost alternative to, let’s say an Intel core i7-3770K, which is priced at $369.

It is no secret that the Radeon graphics brand is AMD’s biggest strength and often tilts the GPU race in AMD’s favour. While Trinity was powered by the Radeon HD 7000 series, the Richland A-series boasts of the impressive Radeon HD 8000 series which enables it to have 384 Radeon parallel processing cores.

I found it quite interesting that during his keynote Mr. Kadagattur Srinidhi, Director of the product engineering team, stressed on technologies which AMD is currently looking to make inroads into. Among them I believe computational photography, context computing and Augmented reality are going to define AMD’s APU progress in the coming years. Their third generation APU, Kaveri will be revealed in 2014.

Ed Caracappa addressing the gathering.

Earlier in the week AMD had unveiled the world’s first ever 5 GHz CPU processor. The AMD FX-9590 is an 8 core CPU designed to deliver new levels of gaming experience on the PC. The AMD management at the event was confident that the PC revolution is going to come back and explode once again. Though they did emphasize that the form factor of the next generation PCs will be different than its predecessors, which is all the more reason for AMD to start delivering higher clock speeds for the Tablet and Phablet markets.

Though Intel is still ahead of AMD in terms of the CPU market, the launch of the FX-9000 series processor, AMD getting their due on the next Apple Mac Pro with their dual FirePro graphics processors, AMD’s strong presence on all the major console – the PS4, the Xbox One and the Nintendo Wii U, and now the elite A-series Richland APUs unveiling must have left them thinking hard.

If Intel isn’t sweating already, then they must have something better to offer than the Haswell’s GPU. On the other hand, AMD’s party has just begun.


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