AMD's Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX 11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video)

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AMD's Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX 11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video)
AMD's Llano platform has been on our radar for more than two years, and finally, the company has come clean with its latest class of hybrid CPU / GPU chips, officially dubbed the Fusion A-Series. Unlike the low-power flavor of Fusion accelerated processing units already on the market, these 32-nanometer APUs were designed with desktops and mainstream laptops in mind, taking direct aim at Intel's Core 2011 processors with the promise of superior processing and discrete-level graphics, and 10-plus hours of battery life.

Aside from the assorted performance and battery life claims the company is making (much more on that in a moment), what this means is that as far as laptops go, AMD is completely stepping away from the standalone-CPU-plus-GPU paradigm. But, the company will still make dedicated Radeon cards, which can be coupled with an APU for a 75 percent boost in graphics performance -- a setup AMD is calling "Dual Graphics." All told, these chips measure just 228 square millimeters. To put this in context, check out the gallery of hands-on shots below, featuring the A-series next to a standalone CPU, discrete graphics card, and, for the sake of scale, the kind of low-power Fusion chip introduced back at CES.

A-Series-equipped PCs are already shipping, and AMD says we can expect to see at least 150 of them this year. That sounds promising indeed, but we've still got lots of technical details to rehash. Head on past the break for the full spill on what these APUs pledge to do, along with a video of AMD senior product marketing manager Raymond Dumbeck showing off some A-series laptops in action.
The A-Series includes seven laptop APUs across three families, and offers up to 4MB of cache, and clock speeds as high as 1.9GHz in the dual-core A4 chips -- up to 2.5 GHz if you take into account AMD's Turbo Core technology. These chips are also stereoscopic 3D-capable, and support USB 3.0, DirectX 11, OpenCL / OpenGL, AMD Wireless Display, and both 1600MHz DDR3 and low-power 1333MHz DDR3L memory.

Like we said, AMD isn't shying away from direct comparisons with Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs. The APUs promise more than ten and a half hours of resting battery life with the help of power gating, and AMD makes the pointed claim that its quad-core A8-3510MX APU can last more than three and a half hours longer than a dual-core Core i5-2410M processor. And the explicit one-upmanship doesn't end there. AMD also says that its dual-core A4 chips will compete with Core i3 CPUs, with the quad-core A6 going after i3 and i5, and the quad-core A8 taking on i5 and i7. Systems with the A4, A6, and A8 chips are expected to start around $499, $599, and $699, respectively.

Graphics-wise, the A-Series has up to 400 shader cores, depending on the model, and ushers in two additions to AMD's Vision Engine: AMD Perfect Picture HD, which cleans up 1080p video post-processing, and AMD Steady Video, which compensates for camera shake in movies. As you can imagine, we're impatiently waiting to get our first A-Series laptop in to review so that we can test all these claims, but until then, get your fill of details with the chart, PR, and video below.

Model x86 cores L2 cache
Shader cores Clock speed (base/max) GPU clock speed
A4-3300M Dual-core 2MB 240 1.9GHz/2.5GHz 444MHz
A4-3310MX Dual-core 2MB 240 2.1GHz/2.5GHz 444MHz
A6-3400M Quad-core 4MB 320 1.4GHz/2.3GHz 400MHz
A6-3410MX Quad-core 4MB 320 1.6GHz/2.3GHz 400MHz
A8-3500M Quad-core 4MB 400 1.5GHz/2.4GHz 444MHz
A8-3510MX Quad-core 4MB 400 1.8GHz/2.5GHz 444MHz
A8-3530MX Quad-core 4MB 400 1.9GHz/2.6GHz 444MHz

Model Radeon graphics TDP Max DDR3/DDR3L
A4-3300M HD 6480G 35W 1333MHz/1333MHZ
A4-3310MX HD 6480G 45W 1333MHz/1333MHZ
A6-3400M HD 6520G 35W 1333MHz/1333MHZ
A6-3410MX HD 6520G 45W 1600MHz/1333MHz
A8-3500M HD 6620G 35W 1333MHz/1333MHZ
A8-3510MX HD 6620G 45W 1600MHz/1333MHz
A8-3530MX HD 6620G 45W 1600MHz/1333MHz

Show full PR text
AMD Ushers in Next Generation of Computing with AMD A-Series APUs
New AMD Fusion APUs enable brilliant graphics, supercomputer-like performance and all day battery life

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - June 14, 2011 - AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced the next generation in mainstream consumer computing with the availability of the new high-performance AMD Fusion A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). Enabling truly immersive computing experiences in consumer notebooks and desktops, the AMD A-Series APUs enable brilliant HD graphics, supercomputer-like performance and over 10.5 hours of battery life.

In an increasingly digital and visually oriented world, consumers are placing ever-higher priorities on multitasking, vivid graphics, lifelike games, lag-free videos, and ultimate multimedia performance. To meet these needs, the AMD A-Series APUs combine up to four x86 CPU cores with powerful DirectX®11-capable discrete-level graphics and up to 400 RadeonTM cores along with dedicated HD video processing on a single chip. AMD A-Series APUs also allow for advanced capabilities such as gestural interfaces, multi- monitor support, 3D entertainment and real-time image stabilization.

"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 Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Products Group. "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."

The AMD A-Series APUs (previously codenamed "Llano") are currently shipping and scheduled to appear in more than 150 notebooks and desktopsiv from leading OEMs throughout the second quarter of 2011 and beyond. Delivering powerful serial and parallel computing capabilities for HD video, 3D rendering and data-intensive workloads in a single-die processor, the AMD A-Series APUs offer software developers unprecedented power and potential in an ever smaller package.

AMD AllDay Power: Battery Life that Lasts
The AMD A-Series APU delivers the power to match how consumers actually use their PCs: all day – without sacrificing performance. Delivering more than 10.5 hours of resting battery life – a more than 50 percent increase compared to the 2010 AMD Mainstream Platform – users can get their work done or watch multiple HD movies on a single chargev. Additionally, AMD dynamic switchable graphics optimize battery life on PCs featuring AMD dual-graphics solutions by intelligently managing power states on the APU and separate discrete AMD RadeonTM GPU.

"The battery life of the AMD A-Series APU is a huge leap forward and will surprise many consumers and commercial customers," said Chris Cloran, Vice President and General Manager, Client Division, AMD. "And the supercomputer-like performance will give people some revolutionary capabilities, like real-time image stabilization –taking out all the shakes and jitters in those hand-held videos on the fly, while you're watching."

Brilliant HD: Every Pixel Matters
People are making, sharing and enjoying more digital content than ever on their PCs, and the AMD VISION Engine - cutting-edge hardware and software featured with every AMD A-Series APU that automatically helps digital content like videos, games and photos look their best. HD video is crystal clear through dedicated video playback technology and dynamic post- processing, and websites render faster with accelerated HTML5 and Direct2D performance. Editing, transferring and viewing HD content is fast and easy with support for advanced connection standards, including HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.1, and USB 3.0, along with native support for multiple monitors.

Also introduced with the AMD A-Series APU is a new feature called AMD Steady Videovi designed to stabilize videos during playback – making unsteady, jumpy content look steady and smooth. The AMD A-Series APU can also enables advanced capabilities like gestural interfaces, 3D gaming and 3D Blu-ray video entertainment – features that are now key to consumer PC experiences and expectations.

Every PC built with an AMD A-Series APU delivers brilliant HD by offering discrete-class DirectX 11-capable graphics – with models available at virtually every price point. Only AMD Fusion APUs offer true AMD Dual Graphics, with up to 75 percent graphics performance boost, when paired with an AMD RadeonTM discrete graphics cardvii. This faster, higher-quality, more vivid and lifelike delivery makes consumers feel fully present in their digital world, especially when gaming.

Personal Supercomputing: Ultimate Performance
Consumers are doing more than ever before with their PCs – from work to play – and with the AMD A-Series APU, even their laptops can keep up, delivering next generation parallel processing. With up to 400 gigaflops for notebook, and up to 500 gigaflops for desktopsviii, AMD A-Series APUs ensure users have the horsepower needed to handle the most demanding applications such as video and image processing, facial recognition, gesture recognition and multitasking scenarios. For the most challenging environments, AMD Fusion A-Series APUs offer AMD Turbo Core Technology, which dynamically optimizes and boosts CPU and GPU performance to power- efficient levels depending on the applications being run.

The Growing AMD Fusion Ecosystem
AMD has seen great momentum in the software developer community since the launch of AMD Fusion APUs in January 2011, with more than 50 leading applications now accelerated by the family of AMD Fusion APUs and advanced browsers like Internet Explorer 9 delivering even more immersive, next generation web experiences when running on an AMD Fusion APU- powered PC. And, the inaugural AMD Fusion Developer Summit, running now through June 16 in Seattle, Washington, is providing a forum for developers, academics and innovators to collaborate around parallel programming and industry standards, like OpenCLTM, helping the software ecosystem build on the promise of the latest computing methodologies.
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