CHIP DESIGNER AMD announced its Richland accelerated processor units (APUs) today, citing performance and power improvements over last year's Trinity APUs.
AMD's mid-2011 launch of its Llano APUs saw the firm finally incorporate technologies it acquired from the purchase of ATI in 2006 into a mid-range chip, with the firm following that up with its Trinity APUs sporting Piledriver CPU cores. This time the firm's Richland APUs are a relatively minor update, using the same Piledriver CPU cores and still not adopting its Graphics Core Next GPU architecture.
AMD's four mobile Richland APUs all have 35W thermal design power (TDP) ratings, meaning that they will end up in mid-range laptops rather than showcase thin-and-light models. Nevertheless the firm has split its range into two dual-core parts with 1MB of level 2 cache, the A4-5150M and A6-5350M chips clocked at 2.7GHz and 2.9GHz, respectively, that can be turbo boosted by 600MHz, and two quad-core parts with 4MB of level 2 cache, the A8-5550M and A10-5750M chips clocked at 2.1GHz and 2.5GHz, respectively, with the quad-core chips getting a turbo boost of 1GHz.
AMD brands the GPU core as a Radeon HD 8000 series design but the firm confirmed to The INQUIRER that the Richland GPU core is not built on its GCN architecture, so following its own marketing it should really be branded within the Radeon HD 6000 series. Nevertheless AMD said that despite not being built on its GCN architecture the GPU will perform as well as a Radeon HD 8000 series GPU.
AMD has given the A4-5150M 128 GPU cores clocked at 514MHz, the A6-5350M 192 cores clocked at 533MHz and the A8-5550M and A10-5750M 256 cores clocked at 515MHz and 384 cores clocked at 593MHz, respectively. The firm has set all four GPU cores to be able to boost clock speeds up to 720MHz.
While AMD might have done little to upgrade the underlying CPU and GPU architectures, it spent substantial effort designing a microcontroller to increase efficiency between different processor P-states. The company claims the microcontroller can provide real-time data to ramp up the chips' clock speeds, a significant improvement from the educated guesses used by previous APUs, according to the firm.
AMD's Richland is unlikely to be the final APU it launches this year, as its Steamroller core is penciled in for the tail end of 2013 with the firm claiming that it hasn't be delayed. However, in the meantime the firm has managed to get out four 'new' APUs that should keep some of its laptop customers happy, but there's only so long that it can rebadge Radeon HD 6000 series graphics parts as up to date kit. µ