Today, AMD releases the desktop version of its Fusion laptop accelerated processing unit (APU) it launched earlier this month. The quad-core, 2.9GHz A8-3850 ($135) and 2.6GHz A6-3650 ($115) should appear in stores today, accompanied by a motherboard from multiple vendors using AMD's new A75 and A55 chipsets that are required to use the new chips.
Similar in design to Intel's second-generation Core CPUs (aka Sandy Bridge), the A-Series incorporates a graphics-processing core directly into the CPU silicon. The advantage of this design is greater power efficiency than separate CPU and GPU chips offer, as well as faster performance because of tighter integration. Like Core chips, AMD's new chips use a 32-nanometer manufacturing process.
We're wrapping up our own testing of the new A8-3850 and will have a review up shortly. Early results from AnandTech showed the chip trailing Intel's similarly priced Core i3 2100 on most productivity applications, but on games the A8-3850 outperformed the Core i3 on every test, offering performance well beyond what we're used to from traditional integrated graphics chip designs, and even outperforming discrete budget 3D cards from both AMD and Nvidia.
The A8-3850 is the most high-end desktop chip that AMD has announced to date. That puts this new line of APUs squarely in budget PC territory, and AMD has forecast these new chips for desktops in the $400 to $600 price range. We have yet to hear of any major desktop vendors adopting the new chips, but we wouldn't be surprised if HP brought them to its desktops, similar to the way it added Fusion to its new HP ProBook 5330m.
Update, Thursday at 4:29 p.m. PT: Our review of the AMD A8-3850 is here.