Pipe Dreamin’: The AMD Llano Athlon II Midnight Edition

Posted: January 28, 2012 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic

So I was sitting there, looking at that picture of the A8 in the “Budget Gaming Awards” article at the same time I was looking at the overclock results of the Llano Athlon II X4.  I was thinking to myself:  “You know what’s about the same size on chip and takes roughly the same amount of transistors as a 6550D?  An 8MB L3 cache.”  The Athlon II so far released for socket FS1 is just an A8 with the Radeon core disabled.  As a result, it’s cheap and it can overclock a little higher without having to work with the GPU core.  But what if they actually put something over in that hole?  What if it was 2MB of L3 on top of the 1MB L2 that each core currently has?

We all know that FS1 is just a stepping stone and will likely be replaced soon.  This wouldn’t be the first time AMD has sent out a “Midnight Edition” ultimate CPU to send off a successful platform.  AMD has made a lot of cash on the Llano platform, while enthusiasts have half-heartedly cheered, still holding out hope for a high end part.  Even though the graphic core has been the big thing for Llano, let’s be honest:  No high end gaming rig is going to use Hybrid Crossfire.  I don’t see a high end 300W GPU going inside a 125W max slot anytime soon, so sacrificing the GPU core to make a kickass overclocking gaming CPU would be a hit.

We’ve already seen how well the new AMD parts overclock.  A multiplier unlocked CPU starting around 4.0GHz per core, with 2MB L3 per core for around $150-175 would be something Intel should be very, very worried about.  If an overclocked Llano Athlon can snap at the heels of a midrange i5, I wouldn’t want to be the company selling a $300 quad-core that barely beats or matches a $150 part.

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