Introducing the AMD A10-5750M and Mobile Richland

As an incremental release, AMD's Richland is a little bit hard to build up enthusiasm for. Architecturally almost identical to its predecessor, Trinity, Richland's chief refinement is a substantial improvement on its implementation of AMD's Turbo Core technology. Richland is able to manage its power states with finer granularity, which allows AMD to in some cases substantially beef up the clocks that the CPU and GPU halves of the chip can hit.

On the flipside, despite the branding shenanigans going on at AMD, we're still fundamentally dealing with the same architecture as Trinity. That means one or two Piledriver CPU modules paired up with VLIW4 GPU clusters. It's a little bizarre that we saw Kabini and Temash first, since those chips marry AMD's updated Jaguar low-power CPU architecture with their current generation GCN GPU architecture; Richland is essentially old technology that's seen a healthy refinement. The market segments that Kabini and Temash serve are the fastest growing, so it's understandable, but AMD's "high end" APU architecture looks a little antiquated by comparison.

While desktop Richland has been a little underwhelming, the mobile version should have a lot more teeth. Here's a comparison, generation by generation:

AMD A-Series Mobile APUs (Mainstream TDP)
Model A10-5750M A10-4600M A8-5550M A8-4500M A6-5350M A4-4000
Modules/Cores 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 1/2 1/2
CPU Clock 2.5 2.3 2.1 1.9 2.9 2.7
CPU Turbo 3.5 3.2 3.1 2.8 3.5 3.2
Graphics HD 8650G HD 7660G HD 8550G HD 7640G HD 8450G HD 7520G
GPU Cores 384 384 256 256 192 192
GPU Clock 533 496 515 496 533 496
GPU Turbo 720 685 720 685 720 685
L2 Cache 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 1MB 1MB
Max DDR3 1866 1600 1600 1600 1600 1600

With the new generation, everyone gets a 200MHz bump in CPU base frequency and a much more modest 20-40MHz jump in base GPU clocks. Turbo clocks jump 35MHz on GPUs across the board, nothing to write home about, while CPU turbo clocks jump 300MHz across the board. Since Trinity was chiefly CPU limited, virtually any improvement in core clocks can be a big help. What we really need is for Richland to hit and sustain turbo clocks for longer periods of time, though, and hopefully AMD's improved Turbo Core technology can make up the difference.

Unlike with Trinity, AMD didn't seed Richland reference notebooks to reviewers, so our reference unit is the updated MSI GX60. Part 2 of my review will cover the MSI GX60 specifically, but for now, here's the spec table:

MSI GX60 (2013) Specifications
Processor AMD A10-5750M
(4x2.5GHz, Turbo to 3.5GHz, 32nm, 4MB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD Hudson-3
Memory 2x8GB A-Data DDR3-1600 (originally 1x8GB)
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 8650G
(VLIW4; 384 cores; 533/720MHz base/turbo frequencies)

AMD Radeon HD 7970M 2GB GDDR5
(GCN; 1280 cores; 850MHz/4.8GHz core/memory; 256-bit memory bus)
Display 15.6" LED Matte 16:9 1080p
LGD0259
Hard Drive(s) Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB 7200-RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive TSSTCorp SN-406AB BD-ROM/DVDRW
Networking Killer Networks e2200 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9485WB-EG 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD audio (THX TruStudio Pro)
2.1 speakers
Mic, headphone, line-in, and line-out jacks
Battery 9-cell, 87Wh
Front Side -
Right Side Mic, headphone, line-in, and line-out jacks
1x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Left Side Vent
3x USB 3.0
SD card reader
Back Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
Ethernet
D-SUB
Mini-DisplayPort
HDMI
Vent
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 14.97" x 10.24" x 1.77"
380mm x 260mm x 45mm
Weight 7.7 lbs
3.49kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Card reader
THX TruStudio Pro audio
Killer Networks wired networking
SteelSeries keyboard
Warranty 2-year parts and labor
Pricing $1,199

Without getting into the details, relevant to testing is that the GX60 actually ships with only one DIMM channel populated. While the CPU isn't heavily affected by operating in single-channel mode, the IGP takes a nearly 50% hit to performance virtually across the board. It also doesn't ship with any solid state storage, so PCMark7 is going to be heavily impacted by the mechanical hard disk. In the second part of this review, when I tackle the GX60 specifically, you'll be able to get a better idea of what the loss of that second DIMM means.

System and Futuremark Performance
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  • drothgery - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    That was also a world where $3000 desktops were in "reasonable high-end" space, not "if you don't have a serious business case where you're maxing out the resources on this thing -- and you probably don't -- only buy it if you've got more money than sense" space.

    AMD was only a viable competitor to Intel from the trailing end of the P3 era to the Core 2 launch. If Intel was going to jack up their prices when AMD stopped being a viable competitor, they've certainly taken their time at it. They released a dominant product 7 years ago, have only increased and broadened their performance lead, and still aren't doing it.
    Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Sunday, June 30, 2013 - link

    I haven't forgotten those heady socket 7 days in the least. As I recall, one could buy x86 chips from IBM, Cyrix, AMD, and others. The $2000+ machines you're talking about were perhaps not marketed as "extreme", but they certainly performed remarkably well compared to the nearly as expensive 486 machines from Intel and others that they slowly replaced. Fast-forward 20 years, and we're down to two manufacturers and CPU prices are pretty much at an all time low. So, where's the correlation? There, meanwhile, are a dozen different motherboard manufacturers and prices have been rising like mad during that same time period. Again, where's the correlation?

    If having a large number of vendors automatically precluded ludicrous pricing, there'd be no such thing as price fixing.
    Reply
  • mitcoes - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    I agree and I always miss a Price/Performance note at benchmarks. Perhaps with a second bar.

    i7 vs A8 / A10 for gaming Price / performance is a no brain choice

    And all we know that gaming is almost the only thing that requires real desktop performance as almost every other desktop common app will run well at almost any actual CPU+GPU
    Reply
  • johnny_boy - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    I would have liked to have seen the (a) system running dual channel 1866 memory, since that would have offered an additional small boost to graphics performance. I'm surprised how much this evolutionary development over Trinity results in significant performance gains. Waiting for Kaveri now. Reply
  • dineshramdin - Sunday, June 30, 2013 - link

    For me, I need something with a high end APU…. I sometimes feel its irritating to get ur CPU occupied with some unnecessary game console… I am not gonna buy this. Reply
  • mikato - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    Error-"PCMark 7 is always going to respond primarily to the storage system, so the GX60's SSD takes a bath." page 2.

    I thought at the GX60 didn't have an SSD and that's why it takes a bath. Justin needs to take a bath actually since I keep hearing about all this bathing of computer hardware lately from him.
    Reply
  • medi02 - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    It's hard to get this where this conclusion is coming from:

    Graphics performance will at best be slightly above parity, while CPU performance takes a bath.


    As Intel's HD in this very article is roughly 2 times slower that AMD's APUs. (while gap between CPU's is about 1.5)

    This means that if you occasionally play games you should avoid Intel's notebooks without dedicated graphic cards, while you're fine with AMD's without. And I have yet to find an app that I would run on a notebook, besides games, that would seriously benefit from a faster CPU.
    Reply
  • PsychoticFlamez - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    Ok let me just say something all these sites say the new cpu is the same as trinitys. but its not richland has improved thier cpu, and intergrated gpu so much that its at a comparason. to your mid range desktop. I would know I upgraded not to long ago and this spd increase is about 60+fos in my games. P.S. I do not have a dedicated video card in my computer. Reply
  • webcat62 - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - link

    I just bought a HP AMD A10 laptop 2.5ghz cpu with 8gb of ram 1TB hard drive ATI Radeon 2500 with 768 memory, 8mb of of L2 cache, blutooth, multiple dvd writer usb 3.0 x2 usb 2.0 glossy screen. 5 hour battery life, hdmi port 10x card reader, loaded with windows 8. I bought it at Future shop, there were only 10 units available for $399.00 + tax= $480.00 This laptop retails on the web between $650 to $700 How is that for a great bargain, IT does not overheat, I leave it on all day, i play the most demanding games at medium resolution. For this price it does not get any better.
    webcat62
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Thursday, December 26, 2013 - link

    AMD needs to bring something new to mobile APU market ASAP. If this APU was compared to a portable with Intel's 35watt Haswell processor with HD4600 or even HD4000 graphics, the massive lead of the APU in 3D games would disappear. I mean, A10 may still be a little faster, but not by a truly significant margin. At best, it competes with Haswell i3, which will be priced aggressively, considering Haswell i5 portables can go for $600 or less. Reply

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