All of the major PC vendors in Australia are set to start offering entry-level, mid-range and performance PCs based on AMD's new Fusion A-Series APUs (accelerated processing units). The new A-Series APUs (formerly codenamed Llano) are the A4, A6 and A8 and they will be available for both laptop and desktop PCs. All of the new APUs have integrated graphics and multiple cores, and they are designed to give a much better overall visual computing experience, as well as improved battery life for laptops.
The new APUs join the previously-released C-50 and E-350 Fusion APUs, which can be found in netbook-like laptops (AMD doesn't want you, or us for that matter, calling then netbooks, but that's what they are). The new A-Series will offer markedly better performance than those APUs.
The AMD A4 APU will be available in two speed grades: a 1.9GHz A4-3300M and a 2.1GHz A4-3310MX. Both A4 APUs have two cores and feature integrated AMD Radeon graphics with up to 240 cores.
The AMD A6 APU will also be available in two speed grades, albeit at slightly slower speeds: the A6-3400M will run at 1.4GHz and the A6-3410MX will run at 1.6GHz. However, these two APUs have four cores and feature integrated Radeon graphics with up to 320 cores.
At the high-end of the range is the AMD A8 APU. This APU will be available in three flavours: the A8-3500M will run at 1.5GHz, the A8-3510MX will run at 1.8GHz, and the A8-3530MX will run at 1.9GHz. The A8 also has four cores, but it has the most powerful graphics out of all the APUs in the range, running 400 Radeon graphics cores.
The integrated Radeon graphics in all the APUs will be able to work on their own, or in conjunction with any installed AMD Radeon graphics card, in what AMD has termed simply as Dual Graphics. Laptop and desktop PCs that feature this 'Dual Graphics' label will combine the power of a discrete Radeon graphics card and the APU-integrated Radeon graphics.
The VISION platform label remains for the new series of APUs, but AMD has done away with the previous labelling convention, which it said confused many consumers who weren't sure what the difference was between a VISION 'Performance' and a VISION 'Ultimate' platform. Instead, the new VISION platforms will simply be named after the APUs themselves: VISION E2, VISION A4, VISION A6 and VISION A8. AMD says customers will easily be able to pick a platform based on these numbers, as the higher the number is, the better the performance of the computer will be.
Other features of the new A4, A6 and A8 APUs include AMD Steady Video, which can make shaky video less shaky; improved picture and colour processing and hardware acceleration for popular file formats such as DivX and H.264 in supported applications. All APUs are DirectX 11-capable. AMD also states that the new APUs will offer market-leading battery life in either idle or processor-intensive scenarios.
Some new laptop models to be on the look-out for are the Acer Aspire 5560 (starting at $799), the HP Pavilion dv6-6102AX, the Samsung 305V (starting at $599), the Toshiba Satellite L750D and the Sony VAIO VPCEL16FG ($699).