All the impressive innovations AMD has unveiled this year on the processor market are related to its new Jaguar microarchitecture in one way or another. Combined with GCN-based graphics cores, the Jaguar has made a breakthrough on the game console market and given birth to energy-efficient mobile APUs of the Kabini and Temash series which are targeted at tablet PCs and ultra-compact notebooks. However, the Jaguar microarchitecture is focused on low power consumption, so Jaguar-based APUs are not very fast and can hardly suit even midrange notebooks. In other words, the Jaguar is in no way a replacement to the Piledriver microarchitecture we find in the majority of desktop and a lot of mobile APUs from AMD. That’s why the wholesale transition of the model range to the completely new APU design has not affected AMD's top-end APU products. The company has been preparing the next generation of the Bulldozer design, codenamed Steamroller, for that market segment but we have to wait for Steemroller-based APUs yet. The release of such APUs with GCN graphics cores (known under the codename of Kaveri) is scheduled for the end of 2013 or early 2014.
Still, AMD’s current strategy implies annual updates of mobile platforms, so the Trinity series APUs have not been left unaffected by the changes. AMD has rebranded them, producing the new name "Richland" which denotes barely changed APUs made of Piledriver x86 cores and VLIW5 graphics cores. Although the Richland is identical to the Trinity internally, the improved 32nm tech process and the retuned Turbo Core technology have helped the manufacturer increase the clock rates of the new models while keeping them within the older TDP limits. So, the Richland is indeed a step forwards in an end-user's eyes, especially as the lack of architectural innovations is partially made up for by certain software optimizations.
We have been aware of these intricacies of AMD’s marketing policy for a few months already as the new mobile platform and its components were introduced by the company back in March. And now it is the desktop processors' turn. The Trinity-to-Richland transformation couldn’t but provoke similar changes in the desktop product range where APUs play an important role, forming the Socket FM2 infrastructure. So, a couple of weeks ago AMD released a few new Socket FM2 Richland-based APUs in addition to the Trinity-based series.
There are fewer innovations in desktop Richland-based APUs than in their mobile counterparts. They just have higher clock rates and a more aggressive setup of the Turbo Core technology. Still, AMD thought it appropriate to assign a new series of model numbers to the new APUs and their integrated graphics, which looks like a rather nasty marketing trick to us. Well, we may be wrong about the desktop Richland-based processors which may actually be much faster than we expect. To check this out, we are going to carry out a comprehensive testing of the entire desktop Richland-based APU series. In our today’s review, we will test their computing performance. The performance of the Richland's integrated graphics will be discussed in an upcoming review.