AMD Llano Branding

Fancy some on-board CrossFire action?

Fancy some on-board CrossFire action?

Interestingly, some of these integrated GPUs can be twinned with discrete graphics cards. We’re not entirely sure which cards at this point, but we believe it will be the Radeon HD 6620G, possibly HD 6520G and probably not the HD 6480G.

For laptops, the integrated GPU can only be twinned with a Vancouver-model Mobility Radeon HD 6000-series GPU from the bottom and middle of the range (an integrated GPU would hinder a high-end GPU).

However, desktop PC builders can use compatible Radeon HD 5000-series as well as HD 6000-series cards.

To go with the new range, and to clear up the confusion between the previous Premium and Ultimate branding scheme, AMD has also adopted an alphanumeric system for the A-series, which intuitively shows which laptop has the superior performance.

This looks like a move back towards AMD having a multitude of brands, but at least the design is reasonably consistent and clear.

AMD Launches Llano APU AMD Llano Branding
Brace yourself for another AMD branding overhaul

There are also going to be more spec-specific stickers for laptops and desktops, where you can quickly tell if a system is dual-core, quad-core or has dual-graphics. These stickers will be easy to peel off should you not like them; we were also told that they enable retailers and manufacturers to be flexible in the way in which they talk about their products in different geographical regions.

Apparently the US is quite a CPU-focused region, so we’d expect more of the quad-core stickers to be used there, while other markets are more interested in graphics power and can expect to see more Radeon- and dual-graphics-based stickering. We can expect the new branding to appear in the UK in the next few months, as manufacturers transition from the old to the new.

AMD is pitching the A6 against Intel's Core i3 for laptops

AMD is pitching the A6 against
Intel's Core i3 for laptops

We asked if the new branding would lead to confusion with the forthcoming FX range of high-performance processors based on Bulldozer. After all, an A-series processor might look better than an FX if you don’t know your AMD history and just judged your processors with the silly old alphabet. However, the FX branding looks very different, as the FX mini-site shows.

There wasn’t much information on desktop A-series processors, but it’s worth mentioning that the inclusion of a graphics unit has meant the introduction of a new socket, named FM1. While laptop and desktop CPU sockets differ, AMD has told us that the desktop CPU socket for Llano will also be called FM1. More importantly, it will not be compatible with anything AMD has previously made.

Socket AM3+ only offers backwards compatibility with Socket AM3 processors because the FX processors designed for it (codenamed Zambezi) won’t have integrated graphics units and therefore don’t need extra contact lanes with the motherboard. The idea with FX-series CPUs is that they’re for performance enthusiasts who should buy a graphics card.

Llano-based A-series laptops are expected to be on sale now or soon afterwards, with mass availability due ‘in early Q3’. We didn’t have one to hand to test for this article, but we hope to put the battery life claims to test soon. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the launch in the forums.
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