The belief that the recently announced AMD A-series (Llano) processors caused a serious commotion among computer enthusiasts is actually not true, to put it mildly. At this time Llano is looking good for mobile systems, while in the desktop segment there isn’t much they can offer. The major advantage of the new processor is its hybridity: this APU combined processor cores with a high-performance graphics core supporting OpenCL software interface. Theoretically, it should allow creating super-efficient applications, which will work on Llano way faster than on ordinary processors by utilizing combined capacities of the CPU and GPU. But at this point applications like that are not a reality yet.
So, Llano is making its way into desktops at a very uneager pace. In terms of pure processor performance, A-series products lose even to the good old Athlon II and Phenom II solutions. As for their graphics core, which is indeed much more advanced than any other integrated solutions, is only comparable in performance with 50-dollar contemporary graphics accelerators. As a result, the suitable application field for Llano based systems is in fact pretty narrow. This AMD platform is too expensive for office systems and entry-level home PCs, but at the same time is too slow for fully-fledged multi-functional desktops.
Nevertheless, the new Hybrid AMD processors can find a place in contemporary desktops. First, they are very well fit for media centers. Due to the integrated UVD3 unit and four computational cores Llano copes well with playback and initial processing of high-definition video content, including 3D. Our tests showed that if you do not use the maximum image quality settings, then the integrated graphics core is powerful enough to deliver acceptable performance in 1680x1050 in many popular games.
But computer enthusiasts have another reason to be interested in Llano. Even though this processor doesn’t boast sufficient computational and graphics performance, but it may be additionally overclocked. These APUs are manufactured with the latest 32 nm process, which means overclocking them may produce a substantial performance gain. So, Llano most likely will after all become a pretty appealing mainstream solution in skillful overclockers’ hands.
The mainboard makers also confirm the probability of such scenario. Over a pretty short period of time there appeared a lot of special overclocker mainboards for Socket FM1. And it is clear evidence that overclocking Llano makes sense, and a good step towards uncovering all of Llano’s hidden potential would be buying a full-size mainboard with an enhanced voltage regulator circuitry and extensive options for voltages and frequencies adjustment.
To get a good idea of what an overclocked Llano based system could be capable of, we decided to review one of the latest Socket FM1 mainboards for computer enthusiasts. It is Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H, which we have already worked with during the tests of the top Llano processor – AMD A8-3850.