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AMD Launches 7th Generation A-Series And Athlon Processors To Retail

AMD originally detailed its 7th Generation Bristol Ridge A-Series APUs and Athlon processors during Computex 2016. The OEM and system integrator launch followed in September 2016 and was most noteworthy for heralding the first details of the AM4 socket and B350/A350 chipsets. HP, Lenovo, and a number of system integrators soldiered on with systems in the interim. Unfortunately, AMD never specified a launch date or pricing for the PIB (Product In Box) units that you could buy at retail.

That changes today. AMD announced that it is shipping the PIB units, but the company didn't give us any pricing information. The company also added three new models to the lineup, the Athlon X4 970, X4 940 and the A-Series A6-9550, but didn't provide even the most basic specifications.

That means we'll be investigating further as products pop up on shelves, but for now, we can give you the details of the existing models.

The 7th Generation Bristol Ridge A-Series And Athlon Lineup

The A-Series processors don't come wielding the 14nm Zen process. Instead, they are an incremental evolution of the existing Carrizo that fields Excavator cores. The Bristol Ridge APUs leverage the 28nm process and Polaris-style GCN (Graphics Core Next) cores. AMD didn't transition to a new node, but it did tweak the existing 28nm process to boost performance and reduce power consumption. AMD claims that, as a result, the 65W models provide the same performance as their 95W predecessors.

Bristol Ridge /  AthlonCoresCPU Boost/BaseProcessor GraphicsGPU CU / Max FrequencyTDP
A12-980044.2 / 3.8GHzRadeon R7 Graphics8 / 1,108MHz65W
A12-9800E43.8 / 3.1GHzRadeon R7 Graphics8 / 900MHz35W
A10-970043.8 / 3.5GHzRadeon R7 Graphics6 / 1029MHz65W
A10-9700E43.5 / 3.0GHzRadeon R7 Graphics6 / 847MHz35W
A8-960043.4 / 3.1GHzRadeon R7 Graphics6 / 900MHZ65W
Athlon X4 970??--?
Athlon X4 95043.5 / 3.8GHz--65W
Athlon X4 940??--?
A6-9550? 2?? Radeon R5 Graphics??
A6-950023.8 / 3.5GHzRadeon R5 Graphics6 / 1,029MHz65W
A6-9500E23.4 / 3.0GHzRadeon R5 Graphics4 / 800MHz35W

The processors drop into the AM4 socket, and true to AMD’s value proposition, expose unlocked multipliers. You can also overclock the graphics cores to your liking, and existing AM4 motherboards come with the requisite video outputs to support the APUs. The A-Series APUs provide eight lanes of PCIe 3.0, dual-channel DDR4 (up to 2,400MHz), USB 3.1 Gen 2, and two SATA + x2 NVMe or two SATA + x2 PCIe.

AMD offers a range of A6, A8, A10, and A12 models. The A12-9800 offers the best performance with four cores and a 3.8/4.2GHz base/boost clock. It comes armed with eight CUs that operate at a maximum frequency of 1,108MHz. The A12, A10, and A8 models come equipped with Radeon R7 graphics, while the A6 models come with Radeon R5 Graphics. The "E" designation denotes the low-power 35W TDP models. The Athlon models come bereft of integrated graphics.

AMD originally compared the A12-9800 to the Skylake Core i5-6500 and i5-6500T back in September 2016. AMD provided a few updated performance comparisons (generated in its test lab) against the Kaby Lake Pentium G4560. Intel added hyperthreading to the G4560, so it's a much more capable model than in the past.

The company lines the A12-9800 up to tackle the G4560, and AMD claims the A12-9800 offers up to 204% more performance in 3DMark 11's performance benchmark. The slide lists ~204% more performance than the G4560 in the test. AMD also claims the A12 matched the G4560 in the PCMark 8 Home test. It's notable that AMD loaded the Intel system up with 16GB of DDR4, whereas it equipped the A12 with 8GB.

Thoughts

As we see in the Ryzen 3 1300X review, AMD's bulkier Ryzen models address Intel's i3 models, so a challenger for the Pentium lineup is a key requirement as AMD expands its new products to fill all market segments. Considering the seemingly late nature of the PIB launch, the processors will have a relatively short life. AMD has announced that Raven Ridge, which will come bearing the Zen microarchitecture and Vega cores, will come to market either by the end of the year or in early Q1 2018.

In the meantime, we'll be collecting a few of the new APUs to run through our test suite. Stay tuned.

  • artk2219
    To be honest I'm still amazed at what AMD was able to pull out of Bulldozer. From a fat power hog to something that while not the outright fastest is still very decent for the power its using, and what they were able to to while being stuck at 28nm. Unfortunately like pretty much all of the bulldozer parts, this is a bit late :-/ .
    Reply
  • neblogai
    Of course 304% is '204% more' than 100% of G4560.
    As for the whole release- it is surprising AMD releases these now. It is very late to create new silicon on 28nm (it has to be new- support for DDR4 had to be added). My explanation would be: AMD needs a very cheap product, as they do not have Zen dual-core design readied. Raven Ridge will probably have a 2X faster CPU, and die size of 200mm2+, making it a really fast, but not a cheap product. If AMD is smart, they will also cut it to 3-core, not 2-core for cheaper (and still very fast) chips. So they will not have anything for less than <$100 this year- but by reusing same motherboards and adding DDR4 support to 28nm Carizzo they can have a lineup for the ultra-budget with minimal investment.
    Reply
  • artk2219
    19989092 said:
    Of course 304% is '204% more' than 100% of G4560.
    As for the whole release- it is surprising AMD releases these now. It is very late to create new silicon on 28nm (it has to be new- support for DDR4 had to be added). My explanation would be: AMD needs a very cheap product, as they do not have Zen dual-core design readied. Bristol Ridge will probably have a 2X faster CPU, and die size of 200mm2+, making it a really fast, but not a cheap product. If AMD is smart, they will also cut it to 3-core, not 2-core for cheaper (and still very fast) chips. So they will not have anything for less than <$100 this year- but by reusing same motherboards and adding DDR4 support to 28nm Carizzo they can have a lineup for the ultra-budget with minimal investment.

    They've been available to OEM's for about a year, its just now that they're bringing them to retail. They were actually out prior to Ryzen and were the flagship product for a while for AM4. I guess they've finally got enough product that isn't getting thrown out in OEM machines to be able to release it on the consumer market. It's still at least 6 months late though.
    Reply
  • spdragoo
    19988898 said:
    To be honest I'm still amazed at what AMD was able to pull out of Bulldozer. From a fat power hog to something that while not the outright fastest is still very decent for the power its using, and what they were able to to while being stuck at 28nm. Unfortunately like pretty much all of the bulldozer parts, this is a bit late :-/ .

    I wouldn't say they're necessarily late. They probably needed to see how the Ryzen/AM4 platform was received on the retail market before releasing them for retail sales. And, it gives a good lead-in for the upcoming Raven Ridge APUs (http://wccftech.com/amd-raven-ridge-ryzen-2500u-apu-vega-graphics-spotted/), which will replace the Piledriver cores with Zen cores & replace the R7 graphics with Vega.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Well, I know it's an older technology, and definitely in the entry-level/low end segment of things, but I'm still actually quite interested to see how these perform relative to their predecessors, and, of course, relative to the Ryzen 3 and Intel Pentium and i3.

    I think the interesting factor is the integrated graphics. It'll be interesting (well, to me, I suppose most people don't care), to see where they fall on the hierarchy chart once testing is done.
    Reply
  • dextermat
    Great more of a few % efficiency flooding the cpu market. We really needed that.
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    Why the Athlon X4? when we got Ryzen 3
    Reply
  • Wisecracker
    :bounce:
    ...In the meantime, we'll be collecting a few of the new APUs to run through our test suite. Stay tuned.
    Thanks, THG & Paul.

    I'm likely to swing and miss on this one, but if I recall correctly Bristol Ridge is the 28nm hybrid that combines a tweaked Carrizo 'Cat' front-end and AMD 'dense libraries' via 'Excavator' cores, with DDR4, UVD6 & GCN 1.2 (Tonga texture compression, True Audio, etc ?**). I SSD-modded some Lenovo Win10 laptops last Fall with the A10/12 97/98xxPs that were LOL sneaky-fast in daily tasks.

    The downfall I recall was that they had dinky internal batteries, but were still good for 5-6 hours a pop --- no power bricks, with simple plug-in adapters.

    Easy mod, too --- 1-screw 'trap-door' on the bottom ...

    edit -- I fergit. HEVC, too (I think), but never tested it out.

    Reply
  • dave_152
    What are you doing AMD ? . Will you ever hurry up with the ZEN APU'S because this is just nonsense . We want Zen not this crap
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    Marketing folks are not that bright....instead of claiming '204% mor'e, why not say "3x" the performance? 25 fps vs 77 fps, etc...
    Reply