AMD and Intel mainstream desktop CPUs
Cheap as chips?
Review It’s fair to say that Intel has the very high end desktop processor market pretty much to itself, however, it’s a different story in the lower end of the food chain. Although Intel – through the sheer number of different processors it offers – seems to have it all its own way, AMD does make a good fight of it at a number of price points. Indeed, the sheer number of affordable CPU’s to choose from presents the consumer with a bewildering choice.
AMD's APUs support DirectX11 and perform some neat GPU integration tricks
At the time of writing, no low-end Ivy Bridge processors had surfaced, instead, Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs occupy the lower end of its mainstream offerings. The AMD alternative being the company’s A series of Llano APUs. Much like the situation with Intel's third generation budget Core i-series CPUs, AMD's second generation Trinity APUs for desktop PCs are on the horizon too.
Incidentally, an APU or Accelerated Processing Unit is AMD’s terminology for a processor with integrated graphics built into the die, in a similar way to Intel did with Sandy Bridge.
Intel Sandy Bridge die detail
Although it has to be said that the graphics technology in the AMD architecture is more advanced than what’s found in Sandy Bridge. One of its biggest advantages is that the AMD chips fully supports DirectX11, something that Intel has only just implemented in Ivy Bridge’s integrated graphics architecture.
The APU 32nm architecture is known as Llano, with the desktop components carrying the Lynx codename. The current Lynx offerings appear in three product lines, the A4, A6 and the top-of-the-range A8. The A8 and A6 APUs are all quad-core processors, and all support 1866MHz DDR3. The one exception being the A6-3500, which has three cores. The A4 processors are all dual-core and only support DDR3 speeds up to and including 1600MHz.
AMD Lynx board detail
Apart from its integrated graphics, the Llano architecture also supports Dual Graphics. This is a neat AMD tyechnology that enables a low-end discrete graphics card – AMD recommends HD6670, HD6570 or HD6450 as the options to choose from – can be used in conjunction with the on-board graphics; combining to deliver a better overall performance.
Next page: Graphic equaliser
is the point of this review???
The author basically picked up one chip each from the Intel and AMD lineups that have roughly the same price (without ANY justification as to why these particular ones were picked), performed a comparison around a minimal set of vapid benchmarks (!) and then reached a verdict that said.. what exactly? "Cheap as chips".. riiiight....
Instead, why not do a feature on which motherboards look the prettiest? Ooh, look at the lovely blue heatspreaders there...
Re: AMD still trailing
First off, OS's are increasingly reliant on graphics capabilities. Even business workers want all the pretty (and sometimes usefull) effects on their desktops. A more powerfull embeded GPU helps them run more smoothly.
Also, a GPU embedded in the CPU can be more efficient, saving on power. This is a plus for businesses and consumers. For those who need more grunt, an APU can be paired with a more capable discrete card, and the discrete card can be powered down when only light graphical work is done, saving power, keeping things cooler, and prolonging battery life in mobile environments.
Possibly the more important reason is that GPUs areincreasingly used for non-graphic purposes. Even users who don't play games or use graphically intensive apps can benefit from a more capable GPU, and this is likely to become more prevalent as time goes on. So a nice APU would be of great benefit to low end systems where the workload is capable of uitilising it, and these workloads are expanding rapidly. Even something as simple as playing a YouTube video can gain in both performance and efficiency with a more capable GPU than has been available to integrated graphics users before the advent of the APU.
Finally, there is the trend towards integration. This has happenned throughout the developement of electronics, and usually leads to cheaper, better products. Moving the components from an add-in card, to the chipset, then into the processor is a logical progression which happens all the time, and usually benefits everyone.
The main thing preventing me upgrading my PC's processor is that I have no way to properly compare processors! Infinite choice is no choice at all.
Graphics cards are even worse.
Re: AMD still trailing
Businesses don't care about graphics FOR NOW. The GPU components of these APU's are basically just a huge bunch of vector processors. Better GPGPU support (like the HSA stuff in Winzip and Handbrake) will give chips with a powerful GPU component a big boost.
And many mid to low range laptop buyers have two choices: get an APU laptop and have decent graphics and CPU for a cheap price, or buy the equivalent iX series and have awesome CPU with sucky graphics. The numbers say AMD makes a good enough case for many consumers in this price range.
Re: What exactly...
Indeed. It doesn't even give the price of the intel part which dispute being only 2 real cores seems to outperform the Amd on processor tasks.
Some tdp data for the intel would not have gone amiss either.