New AMD desktop chips make overclocking affordable

AMD's new A10 and A8 chips that can be overclocked are priced between $100 and $150; said to be lower than similar Intel chips

Advanced Micro Devices' latest A-series quad-core desktop processors balance the need for speed with price -- they run at up to 4.2GHz, but can be overclocked to 6.5GHz with liquid nitrogen cooling, the company said.

The company is offering two quad-core chips, the A10-5800K and the A8-5600K, that can be unlocked. The processors are faster and cheaper than competitive Intel chips, said AMD desktop products manager Adam Kozak during a conference call to discuss the new chips.

The new chips will allow manufacturers to build cheaper desktops with features such as overclocking and upgradability not usually available in processors in the $100 to $150 price range, Kozak said. Intel's unlockable processors start at $216, according to a Sept. 2 price list.

Chip makers in the past decade have reverted to adding more cores instead of cranking up clock speed to balance system performance and power consumption. But Intel and AMD are still consistently trying to claim the performance crown by offering chips that can be overclocked. AMD last year broke a processor speed world record by clocking a high-end FX-series chip to 8.429GHz in a system cooled by tanks of liquid helium, and the feat was noted by Guinness World Records.

AMD is targeting budget desktops and Kozak said the chips are available with integrated graphics processors or can be paired with external graphics processors. The chips can be unlocked to crank up CPU and graphics processor clock speeds, which is especially handy for enthusiasts seeking improved application and graphics performance.

The chips are based on the Piledriver microarchitecture, which is also used in the latest laptop processors code-named Trinity released by AMD starting in the middle of this year. AMD's internal benchmarks revealed the new chips provide 25 percent to 37 percent overall faster system performance than the older desktop chips code-named Llano, which were released last year.

The unlockable chips have 4MB of cache, consume 100 watts of power and are identifiable by the K moniker. The A10-5800K has a maximum CPU clock speed of 4.2GHz and 384 graphics cores with 800MHz GPU clock speed. The A8-5600K has a maximum clock speed of 3.9GHz and 256 graphics cores with 760MHz GPU clock speed.

The new products announced also include chips that cannot be unlocked. The quad-core A10-5700 runs at up to 4GHz and the A8-5500 runs at a clock speed of up to 3.7GHz. The chips draw 65 watts of power and have 4MB cache.

AMD did not provide an exact price for the chips, but said they will be in the range of about $120 in units of 1,000. The chip will be available starting Oct. 2 through component channels worldwide.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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