4 Generations Of The AMD APU: How Much Progress Has Been Made?

/ 2 years ago

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Cast your mind back to mid-2011 when AMD released its first “APU”. Back then “APU” (Accelerated Processing Unit) was a term not many of us were familiar with, although the concept wasn’t alien as we’ve had it for quite some time: a CPU that also provides a GPU. Up until the first AMD APU most CPUs had pathetic onboard GPUs that were good for about one display, some video playback and that’s about it – that applies to both AMD and Intel CPUs. Now we have APUs that are capable of realistic 1080p gaming and that large shift has occurred in just three years – largely thanks to AMD’s APUs.


We have gone through four generations of AMD’s game-changing idea “the APU”, arguably something that has driven integrated graphics performance forward on both AMD and Intel platforms. The ball started rolling when AMD released its desktop “Llano” FM1 platform in 2011, this was followed by “Trinity” and the FM2 platform in late 2012. AMD then brought out a refreshed FM2 platform APU with “Richland” in 2013 and we have seen AMD’s latest “Kaveri” FM2+ APU platform this year in 2014. That’s three years of the APU across four generations of product releases – even if Trinity to Richland was more incremental than generational. What we want to look at today is examining the all important question: how much progress has been achieved with the APU? It’s a fairly simple examination we will be doing, we will be testing AMD’s four APU flagships from each generation to see how performance has changed over the generations and over time. In testing today we have the A8-3870K (Llano), the A10-5800K (Trinity), the A10-6800K (Richland) and the A10-7850K (Kaveri). We will be putting all these APUs through the same selectionof tests with fully updated drivers, benchmarks and operating systems to give a conclusive look at the APU’s progress since its first inception.

We won’t bore you with all the technical details of the APU and its history, but we do encourage anyone who is interested to check out some of our reviews and feature articles that have included AMD APUs in the past as these explain a lot of the technical aspects. All our past APU reviews and featured content can be found below so just click on any of them to get started!

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  • Ivanek

    For laptops which are often used without connection to a power supply, I think the iGPU will be great if you need it often (and a better solution for a long lasting battery than a discrete GPU and also for the life of the system by having less heat output). For browsing/office tasks though, the strong Intel CPU’s (i5 and i7) might have the edge since they’ll soundly win the race to idle.

    I’d probably prefer the Core i7 with Iris Pro there, despite the much higher price 🙂

  • albert89

    This review would be a bit more believable if a current low end i5 was added. But that would hurt Intel’s performance.
    So many reviewers are afraid to upset Intel and would rather give the internet public half the story instead.

    • 1) It isn’t a review. 2) We have no issues with upsetting Intel or any other hardware vendor if that’s what the results of objective testing cause. 3) It isn’t possible to test everything, this is about the progression of the APU, the other processors are just in there for a bit of background and relativity. This is not an Intel vs AMD article but great job for trying to make it one.

      • albert89

        You say: ‘It isn’t possible to test everything.’ Yes that’s true, but not only have you not included a low end i5 but you haven’t included any i5’s at all. It sound’s like you went to a lot of trouble to find an i5. The biggest loser here is credibility (Intel say’s thankyou once again) of this review and the consumer.

        • Not at all. If i remove the Intel results from the review it doesn’t add anything. I don’t think any credibility is lost here, especially as I’ve said numerous times we’re not comparing the APUs to the i7, they are just extra results we had that provide interesting context. Of course you’re entitled to your opinion so if you feel this review has no credibility then you’re welcome to that opinion. Should I manage to come across an i5 I may update the graphs at a later date.

  • jdwii

    Sad to see no worthy improvements on the CPU side of things reason why no one is taking their APU’s seriously its almost just a gimmick to hide their god awful CPU performance that is still around a Llano CPU. At least their GPU was improved doesn’t seem like Amd learned their lessons either since next design is rumored to also have many cores and that probably means low single threaded performance yet again.
    The best thing at Amd is hope i guess with Jim keller and their wins on the consoles as well as moving into the Arm market for servers.

    • jdwii

      Also to be fair this review should of used 2133 ram on the APU’s that supported it.