|AMD A8-5600K APU Trinity Desktop Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2012|
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AMD FM2 Chipsets - A85X, A75, A55
If you are familiar with last year's AMD FM1 platform, you'll recognize that the A55 and A75 chipsets stuck around for the FM2 platform. Nothing has changed on those two chipsets, except that they will use the FM2 socket for the FM2 platform. Like I talked about last week, the FM1 and FM2 sockets are not compatible with each other, as we have seen on previous AMD socket updates. Considering the fact that Intel went just the opposite and made the Sandy and Ivy bridge CPUs backwards compatible, I'd say that's a step backwards for AMD.
Since the A75 and A55 chipsets haven't changed at all, let's take a look at the A85X.
Not much has changed when moving to the A85X chipset either, though. What the A85X does is brings a few more enthusiast and gaming level features to the Fusion platforms. That being said, the A75 chipset could certainly be used by gamers as well.
With the release of the FM2 APUs, AMD has specified which processors they have targeted for which chipsets. According to AMD, the A55 chipset is targeted for use with the A4 and A6 series APUs. The A75 chipset is targeted for the A6 and A8 APUs and the A85X chipset targets the A8 and the A10 series APUs. There is a little bit of overlap there, as you can see.
Even though AMD touts the A85X chipset as targeting enthusiast and performance users, it really doesn't bring a whole lot more onboard. The reason for that is that the APUs have most of their functionality built right into the processor. The old "northbridge" is now a function of the CPU and the A85X chipset is really just a functioning "southbridge", now known as the Fusion Controller Hub (FCH). Since the APU controls almost everything, the FCH brings in the use of external controllers and connections.
The A85X chipset brings with the ability to use a second PCI-Express GPU slot. The total number of lanes remains the same, however, so if you use two PCI-Express slots for GPUs, you'll be running at x8 and x8. Using a single discrete GPU, you'll still be able to run it at x16 of course. In addition to adding the use of another PCI-Express slot, the A85X chipset brings with it a full complement of eight SATA III 6Gb/s ports. That's up from six on the A75 chipset and zero on the A55 chipset. All the SATA ports on the A55 chipset are SATA II. With those SATA III ports also comes RAID 5 support, absent on the A75 chipset. The USB connectivity remains the same between the A75 and A85X chipsets with support for 4 USB 3.0 ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 USB 1.1 ports.
The odd thing about AMD keeping the A75 and A55 chipsets with the FM2 socket is going to be the motherboard naming conventions. Just because a motherboard says it has an A75 chipset doesn't necessarily mean that it is a Piledriver FM2 motherboard. It could be a Llano motherboard, supporting only FM1 APUs. Because of that, you'll have to keep on your toes. I don't expect too many A55 FM2 motherboards, but just beware that when you are searching for your next upgrade, if it doesn't say FM2 or A85X, it may not support your Trinity APU.