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New AMD ‘Llano’ processors promise graphics 60% faster than Intel

AMD has just lifted the embargo on its new graphics-equipped Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) chips, going by the name of Llano.

AMD today lifted the embargo on its new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) chips, going by the name of Llano.

Like Intel’s current Sandy Bridge range of processors, AMD’s new chips have integrated graphics, and the company is at pains to point out their gaming and multimedia power. During the launch of the processors in Abu Dhabi, it was mentioned several times that more than half of the die is taken up with graphics hardware.

The APUs consist of between two and four ‘Stars’ cores, which are similar to the K10 cores found in the current range of Phenom II processors, but based on a 32nm rather than 45nm process. AMD’s presentations focussed almost entirely on the mobile processors, which will have a Thermal Design Power (TDP) rating of 35W or 45W, depending on clock speed – the chips all run between 2.3 and 2.6GHz.

Llano die
AMD was at pains to stress the power of the new chip’s built-in GPU

There will be three different models: the A4, A6 and A8. A4s will have 2MB of Level 2 cache while A6 and A8 processors will have 4MB, but the main differences are in the graphics. The A4 has 240 stream processors and a 444MHz clock speed, the A6 320 stream processors and a 400MHz core, while the top-of-the-range A8 has 400 stream processors and a core running at 444MHz. This compares favourably to lower-end AMD graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 6450, with its 160 stream processors and 750MHz core speed.

According to AMD, Llano chips are significantly faster than Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors in games. The company claims that during AMD’s in-house tests of Left4Dead 2 running at 1,366 x 768, Intel’s Core i5-2520M managed 44fps, while the Llano A4 ran at 61fps, the A6 at 63fps and the A8 at 68fps. Unlike Intel’s processors, Llano chips support DirectX 11 (the latest version), and a live demo of Codemasters’ Dirt 3 rally game showed a Llano laptop could run the game smoothly in DX11 mode.

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