AMD Fusion A-series offers snappy integrated graphics, long battery life

AMD Fusion

Back in January, chipmaker AMD introduced its first Fusion “APUs”—Accelerated Processing Units—packing multicore processors and high-performance dedicated graphics on a power-sipping, single chip setup. While the version Fusion processors were aimed at netbooks and lightweight systems, today AMD has formally unveiled its Fusion A-series processors—and these are aimed at mainstream notebook and desktop systems. Codenamed “Llano,” the A-series chips sport integrated DirectX11-capable graphics, up to four x86 processor cores, and power-saving technologies that enable notebooks to have up to 10.5 hours of battery life.

“The AMD A-Series APU represents an inflection point for AMD and is perhaps the industry’s biggest architectural change since the invention of the microprocessor,” said AMD Products Group senior VP and general manager Rick Bergman, in a statement. “It heralds the arrival of brilliant all-new computing experiences, and enables unprecedented graphics and video performance in notebooks and PCs. Beginning today we are bringing discrete-class graphics to the mainstream.”

Like previous Fusion products, the A-series processors combine multiple processor cores with high-performance Radeon graphics on a single chip, so the systems can not only handle significant processing but also handle high definition video and technologies like 3D and HDMI1.4a without reaching out to separate hardware. At the high end, the A-series chips include AMD Turbo Core technology that can optimize and boost both CPU and GPU performance depending on the applications a user is running. And while the A-series chips include up to 400 Radeon cores and HD video processing, the systems can still be paired with AMD’s discrete Radeon GPUs for what AMD is calling “AMD Dual Graphics,” offering up to a 75 percent performance boost.

On the graphics front, the A-series chips offer two enhancements to AMD’s Vision Engine: AMD Steady Video, which attempts to compensate for camera shake in video, and AMD Perfect HD that improves post-processing on high-definition video content.

AMD’s claims of power savings may be what give the Fusion A-series an edge on the competition: AMD says a quad-core member of its A-series line can offer up to three and a half hours more batter like than one of Intel’s dual-core Intel Core i5 offerings.

Altogether, the Fusion A-series line comprises seven processors, with clock speeds up to 1.9 GHz in quad-core chips (with Turbo Core taking it up to 2.5 GHz in some cases). They’re grouped into A4, A6, and A89 ranges, with the A4s aiming to compete with Intel’s Core i3 line, the quad-core A6s going after both Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5s, and the quad-core A8s taking on Intel’s Core i7 line.

The AMD Fusion A-series are currently shipping at prices ranging from $499 to $699 per part, and AMD says more than 150 products from leading computer makers are expected to hit the market starting this quarter.