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Review: AMD A10-6800K (32nm Richland)

by Tarinder Sandhu on 12 June 2013, 10:00

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabxkr

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There has been significant activity in the PC component market in the last month. Often seen as a bellwhether for the state of the industry, Intel finally released a slew of fourth-generation Core processors, codenamed Haswell, at the beginning of June. Nvidia, too, has been busy on the GeForce front, as it has introduced GeForce 700-series GPUs for both mobile and desktop PCs.

AMD, meanwhile, is still talking a good talk for the low-power x86 space; its Temash and Kabini APUs appear to be a solid fit for entry-level laptops as well as a wide range of tablets and convertibles. And it's clear that AMD is putting considerable stock in the APU side of the business, with both Microsoft and Sony adopting the company's 'Jaguar' architecture for upcoming consoles.

The Austin company is spending a significant chunk of its resources on low-power APUs and console designs, leaving, one would surmise, little room to innovate in other areas. This is perhaps why we're unlikely to see brand-new Radeon GPU introductions (Volcanic Islands) and mainstream desktop/mobile APU platforms (Kaveri) until very late this year.

Yet AMD is acutely aware that it needs a constant deluge of new products to keep pace with rivals. News from CES 2013 revealed that the firm would release the Richland APU platform to supercede incumbent Trinity for both mainstream laptop and desktop usage. This Trinity-to-Richland move was announced for laptops in mid-March this year, followed by desktop parts just last week.

Richand vs. Trinity vs. Llano

APU Model
Process
CPU Cores
CPU Tech
Max CPU Clock
GPU Cores
GPU Tech
Max GPU Clock
AMD Turbo Core
Form Factor
TDP
Llano
4
32nm
Stars
3.0GHz
400
HD 5000
600MHz
No
FM1
100W
Trinity
4
32nm
Piledriver
4.2GHz
384
HD 6000
800MHz
Yes, v3.0
FM2
100W
Richland
4
32nm
Piledriver
4.4GHz
384
HD 6000
844MHz
Yes, v3.0
FM2
100W

Perusing the top-line parts from the three mainstream APU generations reveals that Richland is a minor refresh of the Trinity line introduced in October 2012. The lethargic pace of mainstream APU development is evidenced by no major changes in either CPU or GPU architecture; AMD has simply taken existing Trinity parts and improved them by increasing frequency on both counts. Such commonality between Trinity and Richland enables AMD to keep to the standard FM2 form factor required for last year's best APUs.

AMD, however, is keen to point out that Richland isn't simply a frequency-hiked Trinity APU, per the specification table above, and has previously explained that Richland incorporates improved power efficiency and management while also enhancing the software suite for certain models.

The Range

APU Model
CPU Cores
CPU Base Clock
CPU Turbo Clock
GPU Brand
GPU Cores
GPU Base Clock
L2 Cache
Max. DDR3
TDP
Price
A10-6800K
4
4.1GHz
4.4GHz
HD 8670D
384
844MHz
4MB
2,133MHz
100W
£110
A10-5800K
4
3.8GHz
4.2GHz
HD 7660D
384
800MHz
4MB
1,866MHz
100W
£100
A10-6700
4
3.7GHz
4.3GHz
HD 8670D
384
844MHz
4MB
1,866MHz
65W
£110
A8-6600K
4
3.9GHz
4.2GHz
HD 8570D
256
800MHz
4MB
1,866MHz
100W
£90
A8-6500
4
3.5GHz
4.1GHz
HD 8570D
256
800MHz
4MB
1,866MHz
100W
£90
A6-6400K
4
3.9GHz
4.1GHz
HD 8470D
192
723MHz
1MB
1,866MHz
65W
£60
A4-4400
2
3.0GHz
4.2GHz
HD 7480D
128
720MHz
1MB
1,333MHz
65W
£35

There are a total of six new Richland APUs, split into five quad-core and a dual-core model outfitted with varying graphics robustness. AMD continues to segregate overall performance into four desktop families dubbed Elite - A10, A8, A6, and A4 - and feels comfortable enough to increase the model number from the Trinity 5000-series to Richland 6000-series. We're of the opinion such a minor refresh doesn't constitute a whole new series, but hey, such observations swim rather falteringly against the current marketing tide that requires each 'new' product range be accompanied by nomenclature inflation.

Note that the last-generation A10-5800K Trinity APU is also included for comparison purposes. A direct examination of the equivalent Richland part, A10-6800K, shows strikingly similarity; the newer APU, which is also multiplier-unlocked, runs slightly quicker on CPU, GPU and maximum-supported memory fronts. Crunching the numbers infers that Richland's best is up to 10 per cent quicker.

Just like Trinity, the more interesting APUs are those offered with 65W TDPs. These reduced-wattage parts don't give a whole lot away in terms of absolute performance, it seems, but are sure to be a better fit for smaller motherboards - micro-ATX and mini-ITX - and chassis that are gaining in momentum. The A10-6700, in particular, offers almost as much on-paper performance as the A10-6800K yet the range-topper consumes up to 50 per cent more power.

AMD understands that it cannot compete with Intel on a brand-perception level and this nugget of information is a key insight into APU pricing. Readers with a disposition to processor performance will know that AMD's APUs have historically been considerably weaker on CPU performance but vastly superior with respect to baked-in GPU ability. Intel looks to have closed the GPU gap somewhat, especially on the mobile side, and continued Intel CPU hegemony is used to beat down competitor AMD's pricing ceiling.

The best Richland APU comes in at £110 or so, which is way below the £145 asked for an entry-level Haswell chip, and it is very safe to assume that AMD will not be able to charge more until the next-generation Kaveri parts arrive. This is good news for the consumer looking to build a mid-range system on a relative budget, particularly as select low-end discrete Radeon cards can be teamed up with the onboard Richland graphics for superior CrossFire performance.

Richland APUs, then, represent a minor speed bump over Trinity desktop parts first made available last October. Intel has upped the performance ante with Haswell, so let's now see where the A10-6800K sits in the 2013 processor hierarchy.