Desktop Llano Motherboards: The ASRock A75 Extreme6 Previewby Ian Cutress on June 14, 2011 12:00 AM EST
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It's been a while since we've discussed AMD motherboards at AnandTech—over the next few months, I am hoping to bring them back. To start, we have our first Desktop Llano product on the test bed—the ASRock A75 Extreme6. Unfortunately, what I've been testing is still 'a work in progress'—so there are issues with the BIOS and design still to be decided. For now I'll let you know what I've found, in terms of performance and design. But when the full board comes my way with release information, I'll post a full review.
The desktop Llano series is the mainstream jewel in the AMD calendar. As Anand has discussed, the Fusion APU architecture of AMDs plan is split between the Brazos platform (with Ontario and Zacate) of sub 18W processors with Bobcat cores, and the Lynx platform (with Llano) for 25-100W processors. The former has 1-2 Bobcat cores, whereas with Llano we're dealing with 2-4 K10 cores.
In terms of motherboard design, the Llano processors absorb any form of Northbridge, and the motherboard will use a series of 'Fusion Controller Hubs', codename Hudson. The desktop version will use the Hudson-D series Fusion Controller Hubs, with the A75 Desktop 'Lynx' models under the Hudson-D3 header. The main selling points will be the six native SATA 6 Gbps ports and the four native USB 3.0 ports.
The Lynx platform comes up with some interesting points: hybrid CrossfireX with any 6-series GPU and the APU, native USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbps, and dual channel DDR3-1866 native support. Here's some comparisons with P67:
|Codename||Lynx (Desktop)||Sandy Bridge|
|SATA 6 Gbps + 3 Gbps||6 + 0||2 + 4|
|Memory Support||DDR3-1866||DDR3-1333 / 2133 OC|
|PCIe||16x or 8x/8x||16x or 8x/8x|
|USB 3.0 + 2.0 + 1.1||4 + 10 + 2||0 + 14 + 0|
VGA + 1 dedicated /
4 shared (HDMI/DVI/DP) from APU
|VGA + 3 HDMI/DVI/DP|
For displays, two four-lane interfaces are dedicated for Display Port 1.1, DVI and HDMI—but various combinations aren't possible:
AMD are keen to point out the power consumption curves generated by the gating of the processor and system, depending on various sleep states—citing a one second recovery from S3.
But alas, most of the hype regarding Fusion and Llano is CPU based. In terms of the motherboard, it's up to the designers to get creative, so let's take a look at the ASRock A75 Extreme6.
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Hubb1e - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - linkI don't understand the positioning of this board and others like it in the marketplace. Llano is a perfectly fine processor. I really like the concept and think it's a great CPU for my wife/mom/dad/brother/etc. I think it will be great in the marketplace. But at the shipping CPU speeds of less than 3ghz, it's not a gaming chip. Why all the motherboards with "Extreme" branding and 3 PCIe-x16 slots? Would anyone really get this CPU and crossfire it? That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen. The motherboards for this chip should be mainstream boards. It's an Athlon X4, not a Phenom at 3.5ghz. Maybe the motherboard makers know something I don't about the frequency capability of these chips, but unless these chips start shipping at 3.5-4ghz, there's no reason at ALL to launch an "Extreme" edition motherboard for these chips.
Taft12 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - linkThere's a very good reason to launch an "Extreme" Llano motherboard: High profit margin.
Lolimaster - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - linkYou can overclock the system to 3.8Ghz~, so it's a pretty capable gaming system.
You can also ran boinc exclusively on the IGP (openCL) and at the same time rock 6850 in CF with full speed (not as fast as on a SB/Zambesi).
buildingblock - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - linkI agree with Hubb1e. The AMD strategy on LLano is to pair a comparatively weak CPU with a much better on-die GPU. To me this adds up to a budget option for those who don't want and are never likely to need a discrete graphics card. So Llano needs a budget-priced motherboard costing around the same as Intel's H61 boards.
To show what the economics are, the Asrock Extreme6 P67 board costs $189 from NewEgg. Reasonably a Llano version should be around the same. One of the cheapest Intel H61 boards from NewEgg is the Asrock H61M-VS at $60. You can pair this with the Intel Core i3 2100 at $125 and have a board/CPU combo for $185, probably less than the price of the Asrock Extreme6 board on its own. If $185 is too much, the Asrock H61 can be paired with the Sandy Bridge G620 at $78 from Newegg. This gives a board/CPU combo costing $138.
In my opinion the superior GPU performance of Llano is not going to add to much in the budget market. The challenge for AMD is that they need a desktop board/CPU combo costing around $140 to compete with Intel. The fact is that Intel's HD2000 unit is good enough for normal GPU acceleration needed by Flash or browsers. The budget end of the market won't tolerate a significant price premium to pay for notionally better on-chip GPU performance which does not make any visible difference to ordinary users.
mino - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - linkbecause having x16 plus x4 plus three x1 slots looks much less "expensive" and also give the customer much less flexibility (RAID/NIC cards anyone?).
Lolimaster - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - linkWhy an i5 2500K (over $200)
Main competition on the same price segment of A8 3850 is the i5 2400 with the much worse HD2000. No point in including HD3000 for desktop since it's a useless IGP given that it's included in the most expensive cpu (this is a major intel failure, that IGP shoul've gone in nonK i3-i5).
buildingblock - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - linkIntel has released the Core i3 2105. It's the 3.1Ghz 2100 paired with the HD3000. Already on sale and in stock at NewEgg for $140. This is a $15 premium over the ordinary 2100. The 2105 as a CPU is clearly able to match the Llano, it's just a question of how important the superior performance of the AMD graphics unit is going to be to buyers in this market segment. In my opinion, not at all - partly because they can pair the 2100/2105 with a budget priced Intel H61 motherboard and still get a motherboard/CPU combo for $200 or less. AMD will have a chance if they can get down to this price level. The problem otherwise is the elephant in the room, Ivy Bridge coming in Q2 2012. Both Bulldozer and Llano have already been delayed, and assuming they are both on the market in September this only gives AMD about two quarters before Ivy Bridge hits.
IanCutress - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - linkUnfortunately, I don't have access to every CPU in every segment, being the motherboard editor. The only ones on hand were an i5-2500K, the results from my long gone i7-920, or a Fusion E-350. I have just received an X6 1100T, though didn't have time to test it. With the IGP in the i5-2500K, it seemed the best comparison tool out of those.
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mino - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - linkThis is how the CPU reviews should have been written.