2012 A-Series APUs Arrive - Trinity w/ Socket FM2
Some might say that the desktop PC market is stagnant, but AMD and Intel have been releasing some very interesting processors that have some serious bang for the buck. In January 2011 AMD released Accelerated Processing Units (APUs), which are processors that have both x86 CPU cores and graphics cores on one chip. The first generation of APUs were called the A-Series 'Llano' APU family and they raised the bar when it comes to overall performance on today’s mainstream PCs. AMD has long been considered the value play when it comes to building a PC and the company does not want that to change anytime soon.
Today, AMD is allowing us a preview the second generation AMD A-Series 'Trinity' APU family that they believe will make the desktop experience even better. Along with the second generation of APU comes a new processor socket and an updated chipset as well, so AMD has been pretty busy lately.
AMD’s new 'Trinity' APU are still manufactured by GlobalFoundries' on the 32 nm SOI process process, but is based on the newer Piledriver x86 architecture. This is the same architecture that is used on high-end Bulldozer processors, so we finally see this technology becoming available in more affordable processors. The Trinity APU has roughly 1.3 billion transistors and is 246mm2.
AMD also improved the graphics architecture in Trinity and rather than using the VLIW5 arrangement found in Llano, AMD went when the VLIW4 design. AMD used VLIW5 in Radeon HD 6800 and older GPUs and used VLIW4 in the Radeon HD 6900 series cards. All of the newer Radeon HD 7000 series cards use Graphics Core Next (GCN) designs, so expect to see VLIW4 being short lived in APUs as well.
AMD is announcing eight new APUs today and while we can't mention pricing, we can show and talk about all the other details. The AMD A10-5800K will be AMD’s flagship processor and that will be the one we will be using today for testing. This processor has a 3.8Ghz base clock and can go up to 4.2GHz thanks to AMD TurboCore 3.0 technology. Don't expect it to be at 4.2GHz for long though as it has many intermediate P-states and is bouncing all over the place for power savings. The AMD A10-5800K also has 4MB of L2 cache and is a 'K' part, which means it is unlocked for easier overclocking. On the graphics side of things, it has the AMD Radeon HD 7660D GPU with 384 cores running up to 800MHz.
New AMD Desktop Processors:
- AMD A10-5800K w/ AMD Radeon HD 7660D Graphics
- AMD A10-5700 w/ AMD Radeon HD 7660D Graphics
- AMD A8-5600K w/ AMD Radeon HD 7560D Graphics
- AMD A8-5500 w/AMD Radeon HD 7560D Graphics
- AMD A6-5400k w/ AMD Radeon HD 7540D Graphics
- AMD A6-5300 w/ AMD Radeon HD 7480D Graphics
- AMD Athlon X4 750K
- AMD Athlon X4 740
The one bad thing about the new APUs is that they can only be used on motherboards with the new FM2 processor Socket. AMD had to change the pin count from Llano to Trinity and that royally screws all the early APU adopters. AMD didn't originally expect this change and understands that it is a bad situation. The AMD A75 chipset is compatible with the new Trinity APU's, so you will see 'new' AMD A75 based boards coming out alongside the new AMD A85 chipset. The AMD A85 chipset adds two more SATA III 6Gbps ports, improved overclocking features and enhanced AMD CrossFireX support. AMD said that the next generation APU will work with FM2 sockets, so if you buy a board for Trinity then you'll have an upgrade path next year.
Let's take a look at the A10-5800K APU and the A85 chipset based board that we will be using for testing!
The A10-5800K & Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 Motherboard
The AMD A10-5800K is flagship AMD APU based on the Trinity core and it just happens to be the APU that we will be using for testing today in this preview. It's a quad-core CPU with integrated graphics called Radeon HD 7660D. The CPU core is clocked at 3.8GHz and can go up to 4.2GHz using Turbo Boost. The GPU is clocked at 800 MHz and has 384 Shader Processing Units. The fastest memory that is officially supported is DDR3-1866, but many motherboards have multiplier options for up to DDR3-2400.
The AMD A10-5800K can only be used on socket FM2 motherboards due to the 904-pin arrangement. Our processor has part number AD580KW0A44HJ and looks like it was made in the 21st week of 2012, which was the final week of May.
We'll be testing this processor out in the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 motherboard. This is a standard ATX mainboard that uses the new AMD A85 chipset and the FM2 processor socket. It has an MSRP of $139.99 and should be available in the retail market soon. The GA-F2A85X-UP4 features Gigabyte's new power delivery system, which
promises much cooler VRM temps thanks to some interesting IP from
International Rectifer and 60A per phase. Mainboards using this technology
will use the 'UP' naming system rather than the 'UD' that Gigabyte has
been using over the past several years. As you can see from the image above, the GA-F2A85X-UP4 clearly has three
full length x16 PCI Express slots for graphics cards, but the third slot is only electrically
x4. This board has all four display outputs (DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI,
VGA), six SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports (4 rear & 2 front), eight SATA III
6Gbps ports, DualBIOS and tons of other goodies. We'll have a full review of this board in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!
Here is a closer look at the processor socket area on the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 motherboard. The CPU Cooler or HSF mounts remain unchanged, but the socket now has 904 pins. Socket FM1 was used for AMD A-series mainstream Fusion (Llano) processors and had 905 pins. The difference is more than just a pin though as the arrangement has changes as well.
Here is a quick shot of the AMD A10-5800K APU seated in the new FM2 socket!
The AMD A10-5800K is a 100W TDP processor, but the CPU cooler remains unchanged and is identical to the one released in 2011 for Llano APUs. Let's take a look at the test system and see take a look at some game performance! AMD is only letting us look at game performance in this preview, so sit back and check it out!
CPU-Z, GPU-Z and Windows Index Score
Here is a look at the AMD A10-5800K processor sitting at an idle state on the desktop of our Windows 7 64-bit test system. Notice that the processor is only running at 1.4 GHz thanks AMD's low power state technologies. This is key as it will have lower idle power consumption and generate less heat. The base clock of the processor is 100MHz and our Gigabyte A85 motherboard is running the base clock at 99.8MHz. Notice that the AMD A10-5800K has 4MB of L2 cache.
The AMD A10-5800K supports AMD Turbo Core 3.0 technology, which means the core speed of the processor is dynamically changing and adopting to what you are doing. When you need power it goes faster and when you aren't needing as much the clock speed lowers. Depending on the application and number of threads being used the AMD A8-5800K processor is able to run up to 4.2GHz (as shown above). Not bad considering that the A10-5800K is a 100W TDP processor!
The GPU identification utility GPU-Z appears to be reading the processor correctly and shows that we are running an AMD Radeon HD 7660D processor with Catalyst 12.9 beta drivers. This GPU has 384 Radeon Cores and has a GPU Core clock speed of 800MHz and a memory clock of 933MHz. The GPU core speed also dynamically change for power efficiency. As you can see this graphics solution has a memory bandwidth rating of 29.9 GB/s and a pixel fillrate of 2.7 GPixel/s.
We get people asking about the Windows Experience Index Score all the time, so we thought we'd include it. According to Windows 7 the lowest performing component on the system was the graphics, which would be the AMD Radeon HD 7660D, as it had a subscore of 6.9 and that is the base score for the entire system. Not a bad rating by any means for a budget friendly mainstream system.
The Test System
Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test
system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows
7 Ultimate 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no
other software programs running.
AMD A85 Test Platform:
The AMD Socket FM2 platform that we used to test the AMD A10-5800K processor was the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 motherboard with BIOS F3b that came
out on 9/19/2012. The Corsair Vengenance 8GB 1866Mhz memory kit was run at 1.50V with 9-10-9-27 1T timings.
You can see CPU-Z version 1.61.3 and screen shots below for additional platform information.
Let's get on to the testing!
Aliens Vs. Predator
Aliens vs Predator is an entirely new title for PC and high-definition consoles from acclaimed British developer Rebellion, the team behind the 1999 original PC gaming classic. Bringing the most intense war between two of science-fiction’s most popular characters FPS fans, AvP delivers three outstanding single player campaigns and provides untold hours of unique 3-way multiplayer gaming. Experience distinctly new and thrilling first person gameplay as you survive, hunt and prey in the deadly jungles and swamps surrounding the damned colony of Freya’s Prospect. Aliens vs Predator D3D11 Benchmark v1.03 is a standalone benchmark test based upon Rebellion's 2010 inter-species shooter Aliens vs. Predator. The test shows xenomorph-tastic scenes using heavy tessellation among other DX11 features. The benchmarks independent GUI was used for testing shown below.
Running the benchmark on the XFX Radeon HD 6950 we cranked up all the image quality settings in the benchmark to the highest level possible, so we were running 4x AA and 16x AF with SSAO enabled at both 1920x1080 and 1280x1024.
Benchmark Results: The AMD A10-5800K was significantly faster than the first generation of AMD APU's. At a resolution of 1280x1024 the A10-5800K was able to average 19.85 frames per second, at 1920x1080 the A10-5800K was able to average 14.1 frames per second. The AMD A8-3870K was only able to average 15.7 frames per second at 1280x1024 which is ~21% slower. At 1920x1080 the A8-3870K averaged only 11.7 frames per second which is 17% slower than the A10-5800K APU.
Dirt 3 (stylized DiRT 3) is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. However, the "Colin McRae" tag has been completely removed from this iteration. The game was released in Europe and North America on the 24 May 2011.
Dirt3 uses Ego 2.0 Game Technology Engine (more commonly referred to as Ego Engine or EGO, stylised ego), which is a video game engine developed by Codemasters. Ego is a modified version of the Neon game engine that was used in Colin McRae: Dirt and was developed by Codemasters and Sony Computer Entertainment using Sony Computer Entertainment's PhyreEngine cross-platform graphics engine. The Ego engine was developed to render more detailed damage and physics as well as render large-scale environments.
Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in the Ukraine. The game is played from the perspective of a character named Artyom. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, mostly inside the metro station where the player's character was raised (he was born before the war, in an unharmed city), but occasionally the player has to go above ground on certain missions and scavenge for valuables.
This is another extremely demanding game. Image quality settings were set to Medium quality with AAA and 4x AF. We turned off PhysX and DOF (Depth of Field) for benchmarking.
Benchmark Results:The AMD A10-5800K was able to out perform both the previous generation AMD A8-3850 and the Intel Core i7 3770K in Metro 2033. Running the benchmark at 1280x1024 the A10-5800K averaged an impressive 31.21 frames per second which is 6.63 frames per second faster than the AMD A8-3870K. Increasing the resolution to 1920x1024 the AMD A10-5800K was 5.33 frames per second or 31.2% faster than the previous generation APU.
Sleeping Dogs is a 2012 open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix. The game was released on August 14, 2012, for Microsoft Windows. The game uses the Havok physics engine.
We used the Adrenaline Sleeping Dogs Benchmark tool to benchmark this game title to make sure the benchmarking was consistent. We tested with 'Medium' quality setting at 1280x1024 and 1920x1024 resolutions.
Benchmark Results: The AMD A10-5800K clearly dominated the field in Sleeping Dogs. At our lowest resolution of 1280x1024 the A10-5800K was able to average 28.13 frames per second. That is 5.53 frames per second or 24.5% faster than the A8-3870K. If we were to compare it to the much pricier Intel Core i7 3770K we can see a difference of 68.44% with the A10-5800K in the lead. Once we fired up Sleeping Dogs at 1920x1080 the A10-5800K increased the gap over the AMD 3870K APU to 30% leading by 4.47 frames per second!
It's tough to do temperature testing without a thermo chamber, but the least we can do is show you the temperature numbers we saw on the AMD A10-5800K APU as we tested it.
AMD told us that they are not changing the CPU coolers on their A-Series APU's, so all the Trinity based processors come with the same low-cost cooler that came with all the Llano APU's. This CPU cooler is all aluminum with a small and quiet fan on them.
When it comes to performance it is so-so, but that is to be expected as has no copper base plate or heat pipes. For testing we used this 4-pin fan with all the settings at 'AUTO' in the BIOS.
The ambient air temperature in the room was 75F or 24C. The Gigabyte EasyTune6 software showed that our CPU had a temperature of 17C at idle with the fan spinning at ~1750 RPM. This is odd as it was below the room temperature, but remember CPU voltage is derived from the voltages inside the processor, so things are always a bit funky with temperatures.
To get load temperatures we fired up Prime 95 and ran the torture test for half an hour. We used the "In-place large FFTs" test, which we feel is the best test to run for heating up processors. The CPU quickly topped out at 61C at ~3200 RPM. The CPU temperature fluctuated around 58-61C for the hour that we ran Prime95 64-bit. No errors were encountered. It appears that the factor HSF is good enough, but an aftermarket cooler would help lower temps and reduce the noise.
Noise Testing & Power Consumption
To measure the noise from the CPU cooler we used an Extech sound level meter with ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 37dB. We measure the sound level six inches above the bottom edge of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.
At an idle the retail boxed AMD CPU cooler for the A10-5800K processor was observed at 40.7dB when at idle and it hit 47.7dB when under 100% CPU load. Not bad, but under full load you can most certainly hear the CPU cooler over anything else in the room. This cooler certainly appears to be good enough, but you can easily reduce the noise and temperatures by using an aftermarket enthusiast cooler.
Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple
power consumption tests on our test beds. The systems ran with identical
power supplies, Solid-Sate Drives, Memory kits and motherboards from
the same company. To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for
one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement.
For load measurements, Prime95's in-place large FFT's were run on all
cores to make sure each and every processor was at 100% load for maximum
power consumption and heat. Curious about other test scenarios, we
decided to Battlefield 3 and took the maximum
power consumption during a benchmark session.
Benchmark Results: We weren't expecting a huge power difference between the AMD A10-5800K 'Trinity' APU and the AMD A8-3850 'Llano' APU, but we were pleasantly surprised when we saw a very nice decrease in power. The Trinity system used 23% less power at idle and 24% less power in Prime 95 than the Llano system! In games the AMD A10-5800K did use a tad bit more power than the A8-3870K processor though.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Since this is a preview that could only include game benchmarks along with other experience testing, we will keep it short and sweet. AMD is not announcing any pricing today, but did mention that the A10-5800K APU will be priced around the Intel Core i3-2120 ($112.49) or Core i3 3220 ($127.99). If the top-end AMD Trinity A10 processor is priced at or under $130 it looks like things are going to get really interesting. For this preview we compared the AMD A10-5800K to the Intel Core i7-3770K ($329.99) and it was found to be faster in our testing. Not bad and it is pretty amazing to see a processor that costs $200 less winning by such a large percentage in the benchmarks. Also keep in mind that the Intel Core i7-3770K has HD 4000 graphics as well. This is important to note as the Intel Core i3 processors mostly have Intel HD 2500 graphics and the performance gap would be even greater. We have Intel Core i3-3220T and Core i3-3225 processors on order for a better comparison in the weeks ahead!
When it comes to temperature, noise and power consumption, we must admit that we like what we are seeing. The retail boxed CPU cooler that AMD is using for the A-Series APUs is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. It also doesn't cost that much to make and that is key to how AMD is able to make these mainstream desktop processors affordable.
So far, it appears that the AMD APUs have an advantage over Intel's Ivy Bridge processors when it comes to graphics. The new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU in these APUs is clearly superior to the GPU found in equivalent and even more expensive Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Additional tests will have to wait until October 2nd, as that is when AMD is allowing full reviews of the new 'Trinity' APUs!
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD A10-5800K APU looks impressive in the game benchmarks and easily beat the Intel Core i7-3770K, which is a much more expensive processor!