Socket FM2 Processors
By introducing a new platform with a socket that’s incompatible with the previous products AMD has to ensure that there is a variety of Socket FM2 processors available immediately. All these processors are based on Trinity design, which means that they combine one or two dual-core modules with Piledriver microarchitecture and a Devastator graphics core.
In fact it is a “replica” of the mobile Trinity processors launched earlier this year. Unlike the mobile products, limited by the strict thermal requirements, the desktop APU modifications could be sped up to much higher frequencies. In other words, the processor part is presented by a slightly improved Bulldozer, while the graphics part is a Cayman-like graphics core with highly efficient VLIW4 architecture. However, it is a significant step forward compared with the previous AMD APU, because Llano used much earlier versions of the components. At the same time, AMD didn’t change the production process and Trinity are still manufactured using 32 nm SOI technology. As a result, the new processors have very similar transistor count compared with Llano, i.e. the Trinity performance was improved without increasing the transistor budget.
AMD singles out four processor families within Trinity design: A10, A8, A6 and A4. A10 includes quad-core processors with the top graphics core modification, A8 – quad-core APU featuring fewer GPU streaming processors working at lower frequency, A6 and A4 include dual-core models, with only half the graphics resources. In our previous article we presented a table with the formal characteristics of the APU in the Trinity line-up. Today we would like to complete it with pricing information:
As we can see, the prices are very democratic. AMD positions their A10 processors as competitors to Intel Core i3 CPUs, while the products from A8, A6 and A4 families will obviously be competing against Pentium and maybe even Celeron.
However, it turned out that A10, A8, A6 and A4 were not the only processors coming out within Trinity series. Besides them, AMD will also offer Socket FM2 Trinity processors with fully disabled graphics cores. They will be marketed under Athlon brand name. at this point we know about three models like that:
AMD’s idea to offer Athlon X4 in Socket FM2 form-factor is slightly puzzling. In fact, they are analogues to quad-core FX CPUs, but unlike their Socket AM3+ counterparts, they cannot be replaced with anything faster in the future, because of the original platform positioning. It is really hard to figure out what could be the potential target group for products like that. Of course, these Athlon X4 processors currently boast a more appealing price point than almost the same FX 4000-series processors, but the old Athlon II X4 or Phenom II X4 for Socket AM3 based on Stars microarchitecture become even more attractive entry-level product. While they feature four fully-functional cores instead of two dual-core modules “bundled” together, they are not any slower than the new Trinity Athlon X4 processors and on top of that they work in the same exact platform as six-core and eight-core Bulldozer/Piledriver processors, i.e. offer a lot of opportunities for system upgrade.