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 950, 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 /  Athlon
Cores
CPU Boost/Base
Processor Graphics
GPU CU / Max Frequency
TDP
A12-98004
4.2 / 3.8GHz
Radeon R7 Graphics
8 / 1,108MHz
65W
A12-9800E
4
3.8 / 3.1GHz
Radeon R7 Graphics8 / 900MHz
35W
A10-9700
4
3.8 / 3.5GHz
Radeon R7 Graphics6 / 1029MHz
65W
A10-9700E
4
3.5 / 3.0GHz
Radeon R7 Graphics6 / 847MHz
35W
A8-9600
4
3.4 / 3.1GHz
Radeon R7 Graphics6 / 900MHZ
65W
Athlon X4 970
?
?
-
-
?
Athlon X4 950
4
3.5 / 3.8GHz
-
-
65W
Athlon X4 940
?
?
-
-
?
A6-9550
? 2
?
? Radeon R5 Graphics?
?
A6-9500
2
3.8 / 3.5GHz
Radeon R5 Graphics6 / 1,029MHz
65W
A6-9500E
2
3.4 / 3.0GHz
Radeon R5 Graphics4 / 800MHz
35W

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, but the test notes (below) list the advantage at 304% (typo in the chart?). 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.

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