|AMD A8-3850 Lynx APU Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Thursday, 30 June 2011|
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Closer Look: AMD A8-3850 APU
The AMD A-Series A8-3850 is the top end of the APUs being released in mid-2011. The A-Series APUs are similar in build to the Athlon-II X4 series CPUs. They have four CPU cores and 4MB of L2 cache, but no L3 cache. The A-Series APUs are built on 228mm2 die. The APU comes in a little bit of a different package than the AM3 CPUs. The new socket is called FM1 and houses the 905-pin APUs. Another difference is the technology used to build the A-Series APUs. While the AM3 CPUs were built on a 45nm process, the A-Series APUs are built on a 32nm process.
The FM1 is a completely new socket for AMD. With the 990FX chipset, the socket AM3+ is backwards compatible with AM3 processors. The FM1 is a completely new socket. You won't be able to put your old processors in there. You will, however, be able to use your old heatsinks. As it has been for quite a while now, your AM2+/3/3+ heatsinks will fit the new FM1 sockets as well. The Lynx platform also increases the memory speeds supported up to 1866MHz. That's a little higher than the 1333MHz on the Sandy Bridge platform.
For the new 32nm line-up of AMD CPUs, the A-Series represents the lower end. AMD is coming out with the FX series which will represent the higher end. The A-Series, at this point, are limited to quad-core CPUs without an L3 cache. The L2 cache, however, is slightly enhanced with 1MB per core for a total of 4MB. When the FX series of processors is released, we will see 6-Core and 8-Core processors, undoubtedly sporting an L3 cache. Where other specifications are concerned, the A8-3850 has a TDP of 100W, slightly higher than the A8-3800's 65W when it is released. The only other real difference between the two is clock speed and turbo-boost.
The A8-3850 and the A6-3650 are both being released now, with the A8-3800 and A6-3600 being saved for a yet undetermined date. The lower numbered APUs both have significantly lower CPU base clocks, the A8-3800 at 2.4GHz and the A6-3600 at 2.1GHz. Those APUs also have the ability to Turbo up 300MHz faster. The A8-3850 is clocked at 2.9GHz and the A6-3650 at 2.6GHz, but neither of those have the ability to turbo boost. The TDP is higher on the higher numbered processors, up to 100W from 65W.
Besides CPU Clock speeds, the A8 series APUs also have a little better GPU. The A6 Vision package includes a Radeon HD 6530D GPU and the A8 Vision package has a Radeon HD 6550D. The 6550D has more Radeon cores, at 400, than the 6530 at 320. Additionally texture units and SIMDs are higher on 6550D, 20 and 5 respectively. The clock speed for the 6550D is 600MHz and the GPU Peak compute is 480 GFLOPS. Overall the GPU on the A8-3850 looks pretty significant, as far as what we are used to seeing in onboard graphics.
Another excellent feature of the A-Series A8-3850 is its ability to pair with a discrete GPU in a Crossfire configuration. The Radeon HD6650D can pair with a 6450, a 6570, or a 6670 to form a Crossfire pair. This can significantly improve the performance of the GPU and, frankly, its something you just won't find with Sandy Bridge. Keeping a system affordable, yet versatile is something features like this can help to provide.