AMD refreshes A-series lineup; Trinity nowhere in sight


— 10:04 AM on December 20, 2011

Llano is getting an update. You might have seen some new mobile A-series APUs quietly appear on AMD's website recently. This morning, the company formally announced them, along with several new desktop models. The goal here, we were told in a briefing last month, is to deliver higher CPU performance by raising clock frequencies and tapping AMD's Turbo Core technology. Graphics performance is also supposed to get a boost.

The Llano refresh includes seven new mobile parts, which fit in 35W and 45W thermal envelopes and feature either two or four cores:

APU Cores CPU speed L2
cache
Radeon
brand
GPU
ALUs
GPU clock TDP
A8-3550MX 4 2.7/2.0GHz 4MB HD 6620G 400 444MHz 45W
A8-3520M 4  2.5/1.6GHz 4MB HD 6620G 400 444MHz 35W
A6-3430MX 4  2.4/1.7GHz 4MB HD 6520G 320  400MHz  45W
A6-3420M 4  2.4/1.5GHz 4MB HD 6520G 320  400MHz  35W
A4-3330MX 2  2.6/2.2GHz 2MB HD 6480G 240  444MHz  45W
A4-3320M 2  2.6/2.0GHz 2MB HD 6480G 240  444MHz  35W
A4-3305M 2  2.5/1.9GHz 1MB HD 6480G 160  592MHz  35W

(Note that the "MX" offerings support DDR3-1600 memory, while the others are limited to DDR3-1333.)

Here are the five desktop newcomers. The 100W models with "K" model-number suffices have unlocked upper multipliers.

APU Cores CPU speed L2
cache
Radeon
brand
GPU
ALUs
GPU clock TDP
A8-3870K 4 3.0GHz 4MB HD 6550D 400 600MHz 100W
A8-3820 4 2.5/2.8GHz 4MB HD 6550D 400 600MHz 65W
A6-3670K 4 2.7GHz 4MB HD 6530D 320 444MHz 100W
A6-3620 4 2.2/2.5GHz 4MB HD 6530D 320 443MHz 65W
A4-3420 2 2.8GHz 1MB HD 6410D 160 600MHz 65W

(All of the desktop APUs above support DDR3-1866 RAM except for the A4-3420, which is limited to DDR3-1600 speeds.)

Compare those to the original A-series desktop lineup, and you'll see little more than small, incremental improvements. The A8-3870K, A8-3820, A6-3670K, and A6-3620 only offer 100MHz CPU clock speed increases over the A8-3850, A8-3800, A6-3650, and A6-3600, respectively, although again, the "K" models have unlocked multiplier that could facilitate overclocking. Despite AMD's promise of improved GPU performance, GPU clock speeds and ALU counts don't seem to have changed. One can derive similar conclusions from a comparison of the new mobile offerings and the original mobile lineup, which rolled out earlier this year.

AMD says the refreshed Llano models will be available in January. Strangely, we were told that retail-boxed versions of them won't be out until the early spring. That means they'll likely show up in pre-built PCs first.

If you're hungry for greater improvements from the A series, you'll have to wait for AMD's next-generation Trinity APUs, which are supposed to combine next-gen Piledriver CPU cores with newer Radeon HD integrated graphics. AMD suggested earlier this year that we'd see Trinity by the spring, but if the release schedule that was disclosed for the Llano refresh is accurate, then Trinity might be further out. When we asked the company if that was the case, we were told Trinity is "on track for 2012," but AMD "cannot provide more specific information on 'Trinity' timing at this point."

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