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Written by Hank Tolman   
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano Motherboard
Closer Look: MSI A75MA-G55
MSI A75MA-G55 Detailed Features
AMD A-Series A75 Fusion Chipset
MSI A75MA-G55 Specifications
Testing and Results
AIDA64 Extreme Edition v1.1 Benchmarks
Passmark PerformanceTest
3DMark Vantage DX10 Benchmark Tests
3DMark Vantage DX10 Benchmark Tests
PCMark Vantage Benchmark Tests
SiSoftware Sandra
Cinebench R11.5 Benchmarks
DX10 and DX11 Gaming Benchmarks
Video Transcoding Tests
A8-3850 Overclocking, Power, and Temperature
MSI A75MA-G55 Motherboard Conclusion

AMD A-Series A75 Fusion Chipset

In case you aren't familiar with the still-relatively-new A-Series Fusion Chipsets released by AMD, here is a refresher on what they are all about. I focus here on the A75 chipset, but the A55 chipset is overviewed as well.

The A75 FCH is one of a pair that was launched with the Fusion for desktop release. The A55 FCH is the other. Both platforms support the new socket FM1 APUs and have almost all of the same features. With the Sandy Bridge release, we found ourselves with two very distinct platforms, one supporting the on-die graphics, the other allowing for limited overclocking. With the Fusion launch, the A55 FCH just seems like an antiquated and outdated version of the A75 FCH. I have to be honest, I'm not really sure what the purpose of the A55 FCH is, except that it is used in a lot of notebooks. The A75 motherboards can be found from near $100, so they are at a good price point, and the few differences between the two ensure longevity and expandability.

AMD_A8-3850_Hub.png

The reason I call it antiquated is because of the features differentiating the A75 FCH and the A55 FCH. There are really only three. The first, and most shocking, difference is the lack of native SATA 6Gb/s functionality on the A55 FCH. The reason this is shocking is that SATA 6Gb/s has been a standard since the 890 Chipset and has even been an add-in due to third-party controllers since before that. I'm not really sure why AMD would leave it off of any of their newer chipsets. Granted, the need for SATA 6Gb/s ports is still low, as is the availability of devices that take advantage of the higher transfer rates. But things don't stay the way they are for long in the computer hardware industry and limiting yourself to SATA 3Gb/s is a good way to ensure yourself slower speeds in the near future. Undoubtedly, many of the motherboard manufacturers will include SATA 6Gb/s capabilities through the use of a third-party controller. Or maybe they won't. That would cost them more money, and with the price of the A75 motherboards already pretty low, why bother?

The second difference is in the USB ports. Both the A55 and the A75 FCH offer two USB 1.1 ports, very outdated but still useful. They also offer a wide array of USB 2.0 ports. The A75 chipset offers up to ten USB 2.0 ports while the A55 offers up to fourteen. Those four extra that are included with the A55 FCH is made up by the four native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports that are available on the A75 chipset. The A55 offers no native USB 3.0 compatibility. This isn't quite as shocking, considering none of the Sandy Bridge motherboards offer native USB 3.0 capabilities. All that means, really, is that a third-party controller has to be used. But again, with the price of the A75 motherboards, what is the point?

The final difference between the A55 and A75 chipsets is also related to the SATA ports. The SATA ports on the A75 FCH can utilize FIS Based Switching, while those on the A55 FCH cannot. This difference is the least concerning because it probably won't affect most users. FIS switching basically splits the bandwidth of a single SATA port so that you can utilize more than drive on a single port. Remember the IDE/PATA days where we hooked up multiple devices on a single port? This is similar. Hooking up two devices onto a single SATA 6Gb/s port would effectively split its bandwidth, giving you, essentially, two SATA 3Gb/s ports. That's not exactly true, because FIS based switching chooses how to allocate the available bandwidth. It's more like an external USB hub that you power off a single USB port from your computer.

I suppose what they technically means is that you could have up to a total of 12 SATA 3Gb/s lanes on the A75 FCH. I am a little unclear on exactly how many times the FIS Based Switching could potentially split the available bandwidth from a single SATA 6Gb/s port, but the potential for a lot of devices is there. I'm not sure how many users interested in the A75 chipset would need more than 6 SATA devices in the first place, but it does speak to the possibility of a very large home server of sorts.

AMD_A8-3850_GPU_Architecture.jpg

Everything else about the chipsets is identical. The APU itself controls, of course, the GPU and the Memory Controller in addition to the CPU. The DDR3 RAM supported by the socket FM1 APUs includes speeds up to 1866MHz not overclocked. This is certainly more compatibility than the Sandy Bridge CPUs, which only support up to 1333MHz DDR3 RAM. The APU also houses support for a single PCIe x16 lane and four PCIe x1 lanes. Naturally, the APU controls the capabilities of the GPU, which include the legacy VGA in addition to HDMI and DVI. The APU is linked to the FCH through a Unified Media Interface with a bandwidth of 2GB/s.

The FCH (both the A55 and the A75) offers a few more additives, similar to what you find in a Southbridge, were this a legacy motherboard. The FCH controls another four PCIe x1 lanes, the 16 total USB ports (in their varying capacities), the SATA ports, the Audio controller, and the PCI port. A couple of interesting add-ins include an SD controller, an IR controller, and a controller for the APU Fan.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano MotherboardClaydough 2011-09-13 04:42
Per the ps2 not needed argument...
I thought 5 simultaneous button keyboard presses ( w + a movement + shift run with a spacebar jump fer instance ) were still only possible using a ps2 cable or adapter?
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# RE: RE: MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano MotherboardClaydough 2011-09-13 04:43
-edit

oops meant 4 presses..
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# I don't know.Hank 2011-09-13 07:09
If that is true, I will have to re-think my opinion. I do play games, after all, and that would certainly come in handy. I'll look into it and get back with you.
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# 6KROHank 2011-09-13 15:13
Sooo.. It is true that USB Keyboards are limited to 6 simultaneous key presses. They are known as 6KRO (Key Roll Over). PS/2 Keyboards are known as NKRO because there is no limit to the amount of keys that can be pressed at the same time and still register. Also, 6KRO USB Keyboards are limited to 4 modifier keys out of the 6 that can be pressed simultaneously. Modifier keys are alt, ctrl, shift, etc. They modify what the next key press does.

So, in that case, my opinion still stands. Even gaming, I'm not sure when I would push more than 6 keys at a time and I'm relatively sure I've never used more than 3 modifier keys at once.

Also, PS/2 keyboards have other limitations. Sure, you can press 188 keys at once, but you can't use a function key. Also, any of those specialty keys, mostly used for media functions, won't be found on a PS/2 keyboard. Oh, and those gaming keyboards? Forget about it.

-Hank
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# ghostingclaydough 2011-09-14 19:24
Researching myself, besides an interesting debate with the mechanical keyboard-centric purist @ geekHack:
#geekhack.org/showthread.php?5572-USB-vs-Ps2-Keyboards/page3
Where the consensus seems to be that ps2 polling is less intrusive, potentially less cpu intensive and in the end more responsive...
The ghosting problems ( multi-button rollover fail ). Doesn't seem to be limited to USB anyway. My sidewinderx6 seems to behave with most all my important navigation combinations cept for ctrl failing with certain combinations. ( in which case the ability to map crouch to at least press on/off is greatly appreciated ) But then again I found A ps2 version of intellipoint Pro that I might try morrow. But again ghosting seems to be a problem anyway with any given keyboard whether it's Supposed to support at least 6 rollover keys or not. :-(
Neat geekHacks thread read either way.
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# RE: MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano MotherboardTino 2011-12-17 18:31
Great review.

I couldn't find if the DVI port is Single-link or Dual-link. It doesn't say in the MSI's page.
Ive got a Dell U2711 (2560x1440), and I need a mobo with DVI-DL or DisplayPort to use it in native resolution. HDMI or DVI-SL only shows 1920x1080.
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# RE: MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano MotherboardTino 2011-12-17 18:35
About the FIS Switching, is necessary for using eSATA docks like TT BlacX Duet. Without FIS, you can use one port only (unless you use the USB 2.0 interface).
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# RE: RE: MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano MotherboardFred 2012-10-08 18:10
regarding the FIS switching the review says that the A75 FCH can utilize FIS based switching but the A55 cannot.
anybody know what the best graphics card works with an A6-3550 soon to be upgraded to an A8-3870 and what the benifits are to do dual graphics?
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# Apu `s and the a75 mbA6 6530d liano owner 2013-09-26 13:27
i am very happy i bought the buldozer Apu a6 its an monster al the new series Apus are stabalized core mine is still more powerfull then the current a 10 buldozer its powerfull but its stabalized and easyer to un lock if mine is fully unlocked then i need to sit on my system cuase it will fly away did an bench mark and came to my discovery tha it has cntrole mannidgeable self sutain system it means 12 core cluster of 5.8 ghz 8 for power 4 for distrubution controle to keep eth other 8 in check

i peaked over 72.0000 mhz an sec per core cluster not funny i can run 32x multyplyer and then its stable enough to do some bad as ripping it whas faster then the i7 pentuim and i9 had serious trouble its an awsomecombination this a75 chipset with the first gen a6 liano i can push it to 3.8 in optimalisation if i go water cooling i push 5.8 could go to 6.2 but thats dangerously risky just with the right tuning that system just uses his fins thill 3.8 and it wont get higher then 75 degrees i find that verry impressiv i down graded it to respectfull 3.2 thats perfect for gaming blew 3 gddr5 graphics cards in the last 2 years this year in doing it right shuff in 4 x 8 gb mem 2200 mhz heh and and decent expensive grahics card and am contend for the next 15 years
its has capabillaty of 64ggb memory insurtion

thats some bad as power and my mb has 2 x pci xpress 16x slots and 2 regular and the 6gb works like an charm no delays for some on that wants to buld an good pc for low costs this is it defently
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