So over the long weekend I saw some posts on Facebook by Evetech’s page of the company testing out some new FM2-based hardware with AMD’s closed-loop water cooling kit. All indications are that the new family of chips are ready for a launch in the beginning of October. Whether this is a worldwide or region-specific launch hasn’t yet been confirmed by AMD, but cross off October 2nd for when reviews around the world go live.
Among the FM2 models being prepped for launch are the quad-core A10-5800K, A10-5700, A8-5600K and A8-5500; the dual-core A6-5400K and the A4-5300. The chips are still built on the 32nm process but have undergone significant changes to improve power consumption and fall under a lower TDP. All the chips will also have the new HD7000 graphics cores, although they’re merely rebranded ones at higher clock speeds from the previous HD6000 APU generation.
What’s interesting is the recorded specs by CPU-Z, reporting a mere 99W TDP for the range-topping A10-5800K. When I previously reported on the specs of AMD’s upcoming APU family based on Piledriver, codenamed Vishera, I noted that the A10-5700 merely lacks a multiplier but comes with the same graphics core and slightly lower clock speeds than the A10-5800K, along with a 65W TDP (and yes, that is 65W for a quad-core CPU). It might mean then that AMD is approaching TDP specifications for their K-series the same way Intel did – while certain Ivy Bridge chips are rated for a TDP of 77W, they were first marked on the box as 95W processors to avoid confusion and to avoid customers buying the wrong board or upgrading to the wrong chip, especially if they’re moving from a Sandy Bridge chip and keeping their existing board.
The graphics core is going to be particularly interesting because this will be AMD’s second generation of processors that aim to use OpenCL to enhance their acceleration performance when compared to apps that use Intel Quicksync. Based on VLIW4 with up to 384 Stream processors, the GPUs themselves are likely to only be as powerful as the desktop Radeon HD5570. In case you haven’t noticed either, this year marks the first that AMD doesn’t have any graphics processors below the HD7750. I was expecting something to at least fill in the gaps taken up by Nvidia’s low-end GT600 series, but AMD seems to have gone all-in on rather offering customers on a tight budget an all-in-one solution rather than something separately.
So what motherboards will be available at launch? We’ll have options from various manufacturers such as Gigabyte, MSI and even ECS all supporting the FM2 socket. It needs to be remembered that FM1 processors won’t work in FM2 boards and vice versa – a replay of Intel’s very sad LGA1156 socket that only lasted a year on the market before being replaced by a more long-term solution.
Gigabyte’s F2A85X-UP4 will be of particular interest to overclockers and users of multiple graphics cards. The board is more catered towards the overclocker and includes a better power phase delivery as well as 2 oz copper PCB layers. Three DDR3-2400 DIMMs support up to 32GB of RAM while graphics lanes are handled by the PCI-Express 2.0 standard. Unlike H61 and H77/B75 boards, you can populate all three slots with a graphics card in x8/x4/x4 mode. Displayport is likely to be a common feature even on the budget boards, giving power users some hope that it may become a more commonly included connector on desktop LCD monitors.
Gigabyte expects the board to go on sale in October following its certification to run Windows 8 and should be priced anywhere in the $150 to $200 range. This October release also brings the possibility that we’ll see some of this hardware at rAge, If its there, rest assured I will hunt it down and take lots of pictures!… and probably try buy it myself as well.
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