AMD today announced their Brazos 2.0 APUs, also known as their 2012 AMD E-series APU. Brazos has actually been a major success for AMD, particularly in emerging markets, as it handily beats Intel’s Atom offerings and costs very little to manufacture. AMD has shipped over 30 million units, and there are over 160 different designs using Brazos. So what exactly is new in the world of Brazos for 2012? Not much, actually, other than names and model numbers. Here’s the short list of the new APUs:

AMD E-Series APU for Essential Notebooks and Desktops
APU Model GPU Model TDP CPU Cores CPU Clock
GPU Clock
L2 Cache Max DDR3
E2-1800 HD 7340 18W 2 1.7GHz 80 680MHz/ 523MHz 1MB DDR3-1333
E1-1200 HD 7310 18W 2 1.4GHz 80 500MHz 1MB DDR3-1066
E-450 HD 6320 18W 2 1.65GHz 80 600MHz/ 508Mhz 1MB DDR3-1333
E-350 HD 6310 18W 2 1.6GHz 80 492MHz 1MB DDR3-1066
E-300 HD 6310 18W 2 1.3GHz 80 488MHz 1MB DDR3-1066
E-240 HD 6310 18W 1 1.5GHz 80 500MHz 512KB DDR3-1066

If that looks strikingly similar to the current E-series APUs, that’s because “Brazos 2.0” is using the same die. The E2-1800 is the replacement for the current E-450, with CPU clocks that are 50MHz higher, while the E1-1200 is also a dual-core die but with a lower 1400MHz clock—100MHz more than the previous E-300. The GPU gets a few more changes: first, AMD has rebranded the HD 6310/6320 as the HD 7310/7340, and second, the GPU clocks are higher. E-300 clocked the GPU at 488MHz, so the E1-1200 is only 12MHz (2.5%) faster; E-450 had the GPU clock at 508MHz with a max Turbo clock of 600MHz, so the 523/680MHz clocks of the E2-1800 are 3% and 13% higher, respectively. How often you’ll actually hit the higher GPU clocks isn’t exactly clear, but don’t count on being able to play the latest gaming blockbusters regardless.

If you’re a little depressed about the rebranding of the Brazos Zacate as Brazos 2.0, you’re not alone. This looks like a marketing driven move, particularly with the HD 7000 branding of the GPUs. There’s nothing even remotely similar to Southern Islands chips in Brazos, and the 80 core design has its roots in AMD’s 5000 series of GPUs. That still gives you DX11 and OpenCL 1.1 support, and given the CPU performance of Brazos—still substantially slower than any modern laptop CPU other than Intel’s Atom—there’s not really a need for more GPU performance. The 7000 branding essentially carries over from what we’ve seen on the other laptop GPUs, where everything below 7700M is simply a rebranded HD 6000M chip (which in some cases were rebranded HD 5000M chips).

While the new APUs don’t appear to have changed from previous Brazos chips, the platform has seen some updates. The real changes are in the Fusion Controller Hub (FCH), “Hudson-M3L” or A68M, which now supports two USB 3.0 ports as well as native support for SD card readers. AMD also lists support for their Steady Video Technology and Quick Stream Technology, though why those aren’t supported on older Brazos chips isn’t clear. Finally, AMD lists the FCH idle power as 750mW, down from 950mW on the previous A50M FCH.

All told, the changes and tweaks appear to have improved battery life slightly along with adding a few new features—or at least, the process technology is more mature and yields have improved to the point where the latest chips are better than the first models. AMD lists battery life improvements of 5% at idle for E2-1800/E1-1200 compared to E-450/E-300. There’s no indication of expected availability, but other than the changes to the FCH, the new APUs should be drop-in replacements for previous E-series APUs, so we expect to see updated designs sooner rather than later. Pricing as always will be up to the OEMs, and choices of memory, storage, and other components will largely determine how inexpensive Brazos 2012 products will be, but as long as OEMs can continue to push prices down in lieu of more substantial upgrades they likely won't catch too much flak from buyers.

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  • Taft12 - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - link

    AMD is doing the same thing in this space that Intel did with Ivy Bridge -- the competition just isn't there, so it's barely an improvement on the status quo. Too bad.

    30 million units?! That's awesome for AMD. How does that compare to Atom? Or even LGA1155 Celeron units? They've carved out a big niche, that's for sure!
  • meloz - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - link

    >AMD is doing the same thing in this space that Intel did with Ivy Bridge

    This is complete nonsense. The two situations are not remotely comparable. IVB is a huge improvement in performance/watt (and a modest improvement in net performance), it is *not* a re-branded SNB.
  • nicmonson - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    Wow you are wrong Taft in so many ways...
    Intel did all it dared to do with Ivy Bridge while still trying to get it out on time. They had to do a die shrink which at these levels is crazy hard. Ya notice that Ivy Bridge low power is just coming out. With ARM biting at their heels, do you think they wanted their low power stuff to come out this late? Oh, silly person who likes to spout words.
  • iwod - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - link

    Then why is AMD continue to lose money.
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    Because they don't cost much -> low absolute profit per unti.
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    Yeah, and Intel appears to be phasing out Atom in this segment, as the goal has always been to get Atom into the handheld space. If Intel really wanted, they could probably offer a dual core 2GHZ+ IVB with HD 3000 at 18W or less and it would be all over for Brazos 2.0.
  • mabellon - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    "If Intel really wanted, they could probably offer a dual core 2GHZ+ IVB with HD 3000 at 18W"

    Uh, they already do. Ivy Bridge in ultrabooks with HD 4000 at 17W to be exact. Compared to IVB, Brazos is clearly DOA if not for price.

    Compared to Atom... well who cares if Brazos is faster? I agree with you, Atom is destined for tablets and handhelds. Sub 6W TDP and dropping. Brazos is chasing a netbook market that no longer exists.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    They lose money because out of 30 million of these sold, probably 10 million went into 15.6"+ size notebooks which stores like Best Buy tried to sell at normal laptop prices. Obviously anyone who pays "full price" for a notebook expects to get a full featured notebook, not some cut down atom competitor. Atom was bad but at least it never made it into rows and rows of 15.6" notebooks in stores.

    Guess how many AMD chips these people are likely to buy in the future? Not many. That's right, AMD shot themselves in the foot. If they had at least put in an SSD controller, the display controllers, and some USB ports on the CPU die then they could have shifted this market towards SSDs. Why do I say that? Because if an oem has to choose between

    a) $40 of NAND
    b) $20 for a FCH plus $30 for a cheap crap 5400 rpm HDD,

    they're going to pick the NAND and just skip the FCH entirely. And in doing so, each and every brazos machine would have been guaranteed a very snappy user experience, creating future demand and even higher ASPs.

    But no, they blew their shot and blew their foot off. They are not going sell nearly as many of these in the future. Because a 15.6" cheap crap notebook with a $30 320GB slow-as-dirt HDD is almost as agonizing and aggravating to use as an atom netbook.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    Ha ha, sure, just like people who buy Celeron-based laptops won't buy Intel chips in the future. I have a Brazos notebook (Lenovo X130e) and it is much, much more responsive than Atom netbooks I have tried. If it's good enough for me, it's more than good enough for the average consumer. AMD hardly "blew their foot off."
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    What the heck are you talking about? FCH is the chipset. You still need a chipset, buying "$40 of NAND" doesn't eliminate the need for that. HDD vs SSD has nothing to do with it. You still need a CPU, chipset (such as the FCH), and everything else. Then, ON TOP OF THAT, you add an SSD (which is more than just a pile of NAND) or a HDD. For budget laptops models, you're not going to be able to put in a large enough SSD to satisfy users. HDD is the way to go for these sub-$400 models, unfortunetely.

    Also, suggesting that they build an SSD controller into the CPU is foolish at this juncture.

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