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AMD debuts full 7th-gen APU line at Computex, claims CPU boost of up to 56 percent

AMD used Computex 2016 as an opportunity to reassert its commitment to the PC through the debut of its 7th-generation AMD A-Series accelerated processing unit. The company stated it will “deliver hands-down super performance at every price point,” with the hardware.

Those are fighting words – and also a bit difficult to believe, given AMD’s struggle against Intel in prior years. The company addressed that by stating its year-over-year performance improvement has accelerated relative to Intel. AMD claims that its new, 7th-generation A-Series APUs are up to 56 percent quicker in compute performance when compared to AMD hardware from 2014. Intel, by comparison, has improved performance by about 25 percent over the last two years.

AMD is upgrading these entry-level processors to the “Excavator” core architecture.

AMD used the Intel Core i5-4200U, i5-5200U, and i5-6200U as the basis of this comparison. That’s because these A-Series processors are meant primarily for laptops. They’re not primarily intended for desktop applications, though some low-power desktops and all-in-ones may opt for them.

The 7th-generation A series is really broken up into similar but separate product lines. The high-end is handled by the FX, A12, and A10 series. These provide support for DDR4 memory up to 2,400MHz. They also have the best integrated graphics produced by AMD – the Radeon R7 or, in a few cases, the Radeon R5 – and high clock speeds. This product line will be available in variants that fill a 35-watt or 15-watt thermal design power (TDP). Less-powerful versions will retain the features, core counts, and graphics capabilities of their more powerful brethren, but run at a lower clock speed.

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Entry-level computers, meanwhile, are served by the AMD A9, A6 and E2 line. These chips have somewhat lower clock speeds than the high-end variants, and have less impressive integrated graphics. All processors in the entry-level segment have a 15-watt TDP. AMD sees these chips as competitors for Intel’s Core i3.

APU Name Radeon Name TDP Base CPU Frequency Max CPU Frequency
AMD FX 9830P Radeon R7 Graphics 35W 3GHz 3.7GHz
AMD FX 9800P Radeon R7 Graphics 15W 2.7GHz 3.6GHz
AMD A12-9730P Radeon R7 Graphics 35W 2.8GHz 3.5GHz
AMD A12-9700P Radeon R7 Graphics 15W 2.5GHz 3.4GHz
AMD A10-9630P Radeon R5 Graphics 35W 2.6GHz 3.3GHz
AMD A10-9600P Radeon R5 Graphics 15W 2.4GHz 3.3GHz
AMD A9-9410 Radeon R5 Graphics 15W 2.9GHz 3.5GHz
AMD A6-9210 Radeon R4 Graphics 15W 2.4GHz 2.8GHz
AMD E2-9010 Radeon R2 Graphics 15W 2.0GHz 2.2GHz

While the FX, A12 and A10 chips appear more exciting, the A9, A6 and E2 will see the most improvement. That’s because AMD is upgrading these entry-level processors to the “Excavator” core architecture. The predecessors to these chips used “Jaguar,” a power-efficient, low-performance architecture used not just in PCs, but also the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Excavator offers far better per-clock performance, which is why AMD sees huge performance gains relative to two years earlier. The graphics component in each APU will be based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture – which is not a change from before.

AMD says all of the chips will include full support for hardware decoding of VP9 up to 1080o, and H.265/HVEC up to 4K. That means lower processor overhead will be required to play back video. This, too, is more beneficial to the entry-level chips, which have less CPU grunt to go around.

The company also reminded us that its A-Series hardware still comes with at least one bundled game. Buyers of FX, A12, and A10 hardware can choose one from a list that includes Blobs Attack, Gucamelee!, Dirt Rally, Sonic All-Stars Racer, Eve Online, LEGO Batman 3, The Banner Saga 2, and Winning Putt. A9 buyers can’t pick Dirt Rally, Winning Putt, and The Banner Saga 2, but can choose from the remaining titles. The A6 and E2 chips don’t come with a game.

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This is just the debut, so AMD has not provided exact pricing or release date information yet.