At its Financial Analyst Day earlier this year, AMD laid out its vision for the future of the company. For the most part the strategy sounded a lot like what AMD was supposed to be doing all along, now with a strong commitment behind it. One major theme of the new AMD was agility. As a company much smaller than Intel, AMD should be able to move a lot quicker as a result. Unfortunately, in many cases that simply wasn't the case. The new executive team at AMD pledged to restore and leverage that lost agility, partially by releasing products targeted to specific geographic markets and verticals where they could be very competitive. Rather than just fight the big battle with Intel across a broad market, the new AMD will focus on areas where Intel either isn't present or is at a disadvantage and use its agility to quickly launch products to compete there.

One of the first examples of AMD's quick acting is in today's announcement of a new FirePro series of APUs. On the desktop and in mobile we have Trinity based APUs. The FirePro APUs are aimed at workstations that need professional quality graphics drivers but are fine with entry level GPU performance.

At a high level the FirePro APU makes sense. Just as processor graphics may eventually be good enough for many consumers, the same can be said about workstation users. Perhaps today is a bit too early for that crossover, but you have to start somewhere.

Going up against Intel in a market that does value graphics performance meets the agile AMD requirement, although it remains to be seen how much of a burden slower scalar x86 performance is in these workstation applications.

AMD's motivation behind doing a FirePro APU is simple: workstation/enterprise products can be sold at a premium compared to similarly sized desktop/notebook parts. Take the same Trinity die, pair it with FirePro drivers you've already built for the big discrete GPUs, and you can sell the combination for a little more money with very little additional investment. Anything AMD can do at this point to increase revenue derived from existing designs is a much needed effort. 

There are two FirePro APUs being announced today, the A300 and A320:

AMD FirePro APUs
APU Model A300 A320
“Piledriver” CPU Cores 4 4
CPU Clock (Base/Max) 3.4GHz / 4.0GHz 3.8GHz / 4.2GHz
L2 Cache (MB) 4 4
FirePro Cores 384 384
GPU Clock 760MHz 800MHz
TDP 65W 100W

The chips are effectively rebranded "quad-core" Trinity APUs with fully featured, 384 core VLIW4 Northern Islands/Cayman derived GPU. There's no indication of GPU boost support, with max GPU frequencies set at 760MHz and 800MHz for the two parts. There's a pretty sizable gap in TDP between the two chips, telling us a lot about how much it takes to reach the A320's higher clocks.

The competition for these FirePro APUs is Intel's Xeon with P4000 graphics (P4000 is the professional version of the HD 4000 we have on the desktop IVB parts). I haven't personally done any comparisons between AMD's FirePro drivers and what Intel gives you with the P4000, so I'll hold off on drawing any conclusions here, but needless to say that at least from a performance standpoint AMD should have a significant advantage. Given the long history of producing professional graphics drivers, I would not be surprised to see some advantages there as well. 

AMD hasn't released any pricing information as the A300/A320 won't be available in the channel. The FirePro APUs are OEM only and are primarily targeted at markets like India where low cost, professional graphics workstations are apparently in high demand. 

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  • rudolphna - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    Every reader not take this comment because seriously lack of proper grammar.

    Serious note, it depends on wat the market is. I just purchased a AMD Trinity based laptop because I wanted good graphics performance for gaming on the go, but I didn't need tons of CPU power. Not to mention it was far less expensive than a comparable intel based laptop with dedicated graphics.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Wow, cool... almost thirteen inches of pixellated blurry 1024x768 at low game settings.
  • eanazag - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    I can say the same with respect to ECC and platform advantages that Intel has. In the business world on client machines. TPM support? Anyone else catch that AMD has not yet released pile driver on desktops yet? This is the first pile driver based desktop processor. AMD still has a 6Gbps count advantage over Intel (Intel's 1155 have been carrying the 2 ports by default). I can see what we have been posting here not meaning much to buyers in India and areas like that.
  • 91TTZ - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    While Intel could crush AMD if they wanted to, it wouldn't be beneficial for them to do so. There are 2 factors at work here: market share and antitrust legislation. Intel wouldn't gain much market share by crushing AMD and it would subject them to risk for having a monopoly.

    It benefits Intel by having a small competitor that always barely manages to hold on. Such a competitor doesn't steal enough sales to really impact Intel's bottom line and it shields Intel from the government's wrath.
  • rudolphna - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    GTFO troll.
  • silverblue - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    Ignore it, maybe it'll go away or finally be removed.
  • Merkerntish - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    90% of computing is identical on a similarly priced AMD processor.

    People prefer GPU power nowadays, not CPU power. If its quad core and decent, you wont notice any slowdowns anyways. It's just TomsHardware trying their best to get their Intel sponsorship check to make AMD CPUs look bad. They really do work perfectly and offer much more value than an Intel chip.

    Their interconnect tech is something to be reckoned with as well. Kaveri is going to have unified memory between the CPU and GPU, lowering the transfer bandwidth usage by 30-70%.
  • silverblue - Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - link

    As AMD's memory controller architecture cannot hope to keep up with Intel's right now, a smarter approach should help get them back into the game.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    mr merkerntish, please... you're oozing abu dhabi paid pr stupidity on steroids..

    See any review sites rocking the amd cpu ? ROFLMHO

    I've seen one out of hundreds ... can't remember who the fly by night was...

    So, you slandered tom's with your immense idiotic, non thinking, amnesic, clueless, buffoonery... (Tom's is in lust with amd cpu's, but you knew that)

    NO AMD for benchmarking reviews....

    LOL - hahahhahahahaahahahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
  • risa2000 - Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - link

    Agility should depend on the level of delegated responsibility. Does not matter whether company is big or small. If every level is stuck because it needs blessing from several upper layers for simple decision, the company will not be agile, even if it is small in headcount. And vice-versa.

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