You didn’t think that AMD would take the Intel’s launch of Haswell at Computex sitting down, did you? While Intel worked on its new architecture, engineers at AMD were busy with Richland, a refinement of the Trinity architecture that powered the company’s last generation of A-Series APUs.
Announced today at Computex, Richland, like Intel’s Haswell, is an evolutionary improvement of existing processor technology. The new part upgrades the integrated graphics processor to a Radeon 8000-series part while tweaking the processor to slightly improve performance. AMD claims that this results in a 21 percent improvement in 3DMark Fire Strike and an 8 percent improvement in PC Mark relative to previous A-Series desktop APUs.
Graphics performance has always been AMD’s strongest point, so it’s no surprise that the integrated graphics processor is a priority for Richland. The company was quick to point out that its best APUs are still quicker than Intel HD 4600 graphics and score up to 1,104 in the 3D Mark Fire Strike benchmark (HD 4600 scored 843 when we tested a Core i7-4770K processor). AMD also claimed that the A10-6800K, an eight-core APU, can play games like Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider at 1080p with a framerate of 30 FPS or above.
AMD adds additional value through a plethora of extra features, most of which are graphics related. The new A10 APUs support Eyefinity multi-monitor gaming, improve performance in select applications via Open CL GPU compute, and can be paired with a Radeon discrete graphics card to substantially boost overall performance.
The best argument in favor of AMD, however, is still price.
The top-of-the-line A10-6800K will be selling at a retail price of $142, about half the price of high-end Intel Core i5 and i7 quads, which usually retail for $300 or more. Intel’s processors offer much better performance on a per-core and per-clock basis, but AMD’s A-Series is fast enough for some, and the IGP reasonably powerful. Those who don’t need the latest-and-greatest may be enticed by the A8-6500, a quad-core processor priced at $112. The “K” series processors, which have a higher listed thermal design power, are unlocked for maximum overclocking potential.
Remember, however, that AMD also produces the FX line, which includes its quickest and most expensive processors. The affordable A-Series desktop processors are separate from the FX line and are targeted at mid-range desktops and users who don’t need, or can’t afford, discrete graphics. The FX line is due for an update later this year.