A press release from AMD just dropped into our inbox announcing the imminent availability of a new model of desktop CPU based on Llano silicon, the A6-3500. Like the four other desktop variants of Llano, this processor will drop into a Socket FM1-style motherboard and provide both CPU and graphics processing power to the system.
At first blush, the specs for the A6-3500 read almost exactly like the specs for the next model up, the A6-3600. Both run their CPU cores at 2.1GHz and can raise them to 2.4GHz via Turbo Core, both have 444MHz Radeon IGPs with 320 shader ALUs, and both will fit into a 65W TDP envelope. The difference? The A6-3500 lost a limb in a horrid tree-chipper accident, so it has only three cores and 3MB of L2 cache, versus the A6-3600's quad cores and 4MB of L2.
The A6-3500 is priced at $95, about $40 below the fastest desktop Llano, the A8-3850.
AMD tells us the A6-3500 "is now available for purchase through system builders and online retailers." However, we think perhaps the press release has gotten ahead of the horse. Quick searches at Amazon, Newegg, and at our PriceGrabber search engine currently reveal zero hits for the A6-3500 processor. AMD may be supplying these parts to the channel, but they haven't quite made it to the virtual shelves of online retailers.
If the A6-3500 were available for purchase today, it would be the first 65W desktop Llano variant to hit retail. The other two, the A6-3600 and the A8-3800, aren't yet at the major online retailers yet, either. Those parts were announced in late June, alongside some 100W desktop models that are, to date, the only desktop Llano derivatives firmly in the sales channel.
We'd be more worried about a triple-core Llano being the first and only one to reach 65W on the desktop if we hadn't caught wind of the imminent availability of quad-core 65W parts. Our sense is that the A6-3500's release is simply AMD filling out its Llano-based lineup, not a tacit admission of problems reaching 65W with a similarly clocked quad-core chip.
The $95 price tag on the A6-3500 does tell us something interesting, though. Those 65W quad-core parts, the A6-3600 and A8-3800, are likely to be priced between $95 and $135, which is a fairly narrow range. That raises some difficult competitive questions, because the 65W parts have substantially lower clock speeds than their 100W siblings, yet those 100W parts struggle to keep pace with the Intel Core i3-2100 in CPU performance tests (though the situation is reversed in GPU tests). The Core i3-2100 is priced at $117 and has a 65W TDP rating.