In an earlier article I explained the differences between Intel’s numerous laptop processors. But Intel is not the only company in this market. AMD remains, and its newly released Fusion product line is the most competitive mobile part the company has offered in years.
I’d like to be able to say that this new product line is easy to understand, but as is often the case with technology, it’s not. There are several different types of Fusion APUs available, and each has a difference balance of performance, price and efficiency.
Fusion In A Small Package – The C & E-Series
At the bottom of the entire AMD Fusion line you’ll find the C-Series, which consists of just two different APUs. In some odd positioning, the less expensive C-30 has a clock speed of 1.2 GHz while the more expensive C-50 ships at just 1 GHz. The catch? The C-50 has two cores.
The E-Series is more conventional. It again consists of just two parts, but the E-240’s clock speed of 1.5 GHz slots below the E-350’s speed of 1.6 GHz. Again, the part with the higher number offers two cores.
If you’re looking for easy product differentiation baked into AMD’s naming scheme, you’re going to be disappointed. There isn’t any. Both the C and E-Series parts are built on the same micro-architecture and have the same integrated GPU. The only difference is clock speeds. In addition to the lower CPU clock on the C series, the graphics solution is limited to just a hair over 275 MHz, while the E series clocks as high as 500 MHz.
AMD must be hoping that, with only two processors in each series, consumers won’t have cause for confusion. While I think they’re correct, I hope they don’t intend to release many additional options for each line.
The Latest & Greatest – AMD’s Fusion A-Series
While the original Fusion C and E Series parts have been around for months, they’re low-end processors, and not well suited for laptops selling over $500. Those looking for a powerful processor are better off considering the new AMD Fusion A-Series.
There are more parts in the A-Series, but AMD has implemented a naming scheme that makes the list of processors somewhat easier to understand. The line is split into three different groups: A4, A6, and A8.
Among these, the A4 stands out the most. It is the only group that is made up of dual-core processors, and this also means that the clock speeds are high despite the budget focus. Even the basic A4-3300M has a base clock of 1.9 GHz, which matches that of the quickest A8. Graphics power comes courtesy of 240 Radeon cores clocked at 444 MHz.
Both the A6 and A8 parts are quad-core, and there isn’t a clear difference between them in clock speeds. Instead, the difference between these parts is the integrated graphics. The A8 offers 400 Radeon cores clocked at 444 MHz, while the A6 offers just 320 Radeon cores at 400 MHz.
While this processor list isn’t as precise as Intel’s, the jist is clear. The higher the number behind the A, the better the graphics. Processor clock speeds and core counts, however, are not apparent in the processor’s name.
AMD for some reason decided to add the “MX” suffix to some of its A-Series processors. This is applied to the fastest A4, A6 and A8 options, but otherwise doesn’t indicate anything special about the processor.
While describing Intel’s processor list wasn’t easy, AMD has created a labyrinth of letters and numbers that don’t have little relation to the components they represent.
Fortunately, there are not as many parts to remember, so understanding AMD’s products isn’t as difficult as it could be. For now, at least. But if AMD continues to release parts into these same brands without clarifying the naming system used, consumers will not be at fault for their confusion.