AMD Takes On Budget Desktops with Quad-Core Llano

AMD announce that is has begun shipping its new Llano processors to OEM manufacturers. The Llano APU (accelerated processor unit) is the latest of AMD's Fusion core processors combining the core processing and graphics processing capabilities in a single unit. The quad-core processors pack a fair amount of bang for the buck and will change the game for entry-level desktops.

The Llano is a 32nm chip--compared to 40nm for AMD's Brazos processor. The Llano packs a quad-core CPU, along with between 160 and 400 Radeon cores to deliver significant performance-per-watt. The graphics capabilities of the Llano should be equivalent to low to mid-range discrete Radeon graphics cards.

AMD provides a compelling cost-benefit argument against similar Intel chips.
The cores within the Llano are old-school Phenom II cores that aren't as evolved as the cores used in the Brazos processors. As a result, Llano processors are efficient, but still consume more power than their Brazos counterparts--making them more likely processors for budget desktops than for laptops which require maximum power efficiency to extend battery life.

AMD's Chief Financial Officer and Interim CEO Thomas Seifert stated on a webcast, "Customers are very excited about Llano coming to market and we will look forward to seeing our "Llano"-based systems in the market this quarter--the second quarter."

AMD produced a short video demonstrating the side by side performance of the AMD Llano processor versus the Intel Sandy Bridge processor. Granted, you always have to take a vendor-produced demo with a grain of salt. Obviously, AMD is only going to show results that illustrate why the Llano is better than Sandy Bridge. But, grain of salt aside, the video paints a compelling picture in favor of AMD.

The economics of AMD vs. Intel are often hard to ignore. Although Intel processors generally outperform equivalent AMD processors, the cost difference makes the AMD very appealing. On more than one occasion, I have been in the market for a new PC or laptop and initially aimed for an Intel-based system, but eventually rationalized my way to a similar AMD system for significantly less money.

For some users, and for some purposes, the performance is more important than the cost. And, in those situations I would generally recommend purchasing an Intel-based system. But, these Llano processors look impressive, and could make for some relatively powerful entry-level PCs later this year.

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