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The final article in our Motherboard Memory Lane series brings us right up to date with a look at the current AMD AM4 platform. AM4 series motherboards support AMD Zen architecture CPUs, a new platform which AMD hoped would finally elevate the company back into the upper-mainstream PC component ecosystem, a place that had been utterly dominated by Intel for most of the last decade. The platform arrived with a new socket, new chipset series, new AMD Ryzen CPUs and a newly invigorated sense of purpose. Let’s take a look at the key platform features, the motherboards that are currently most popular and the CPUs that are being used to make some very decent scores on the HWBOT database.
The first systems to use the AMD AM4 Socket were in fact built by OEMs HP and Lenovo in late 2016 who were given exclusive access to the new platform. It arrived with Bristol Ridge-based APUs that featured Excavator cores, the last iteration of AMD’s Bulldozer CPU architecture. As far as the mainstream DIY PC consumer and enthusiast space, it barely registered a blip on the radar. We were all far too preoccupied with waiting for Zen to arrive.
We continue our Motherboard Memory Lane series today with a look at the AMD FM2+ platform, the follow up to the FM2 Socket and its Trinity-based APUs that we considered in last week’s article. Socket FM2+ represents AMD’s third attempt to trying to gain traction in the budget to mid-range desktop PC segment, arriving with a refreshed series of Kaveri-based APUs and an updated FCH (or chipset if you prefer). Let’s push on and take a look at the new platform, the motherboards that were popular in this era and some of the more impressive scores that were submitted to HWBOT.
Where Intel had managed to maintain to a ‘tick-tock’ cadence with its processor launches, AMD enjoyed an odd dance all of its own. The first AMD Accelerated Processor Units (APUs) debuted with FM1 in mid-2011 and featured Llano architecture chips. Then FM2 came along in October 2012 with and Trinity and subsequent Richland architecture APUs which were eventually followed by updated Kabini models on mobile platforms only. FM2+ launched in January 2014 with Kaveri, seeing AMD having one last roll of the dice before the new AM4 socket and the eagerly anticipated Zen architecture made its bow on center stage.
Today our Motherboard Memory Lane series sets its sights on the FM2 Socket, an update to the previous FM1 platform that arrived with a new Chipset and an updated range of AMD APUs. Let’s crack on and check out the new technologies that AMD brought to the table, the motherboards that helped define the era and of course, some of the more impressive scores that were submitted to the HWBOT database using the FM2 platform.
The first iteration of AMD’s budget to mid-range APU lineup arrived in Mid-2011 using the FM1 socket. AMD hoped to woo gamers and enthusiasts with a new kind of processor that combined a quad-core CPU with a GPU that actually resembled something similar to a discrete part. AMD’s strategy involved leveraging the graphics technologies that it acquired when it had bought ATi, offering a more complete and heterogeneous design that was beyond Intel’s capabilities. The platform failed to really compete with Intel’s Sandy Bridge offerings however, and ultimately disappointed, despite having a clear advantage in most gaming tests when compared with Intel’s HD Graphics offerings..
This week’s trip down Motherboard Memory Lane brings us to the AMD AM3+ platform. Arriving in 2011 with a new enthusiast chipset and new range of FX branded CPUs, the new platform was AMD’s reinvigorated drive into the high performance PC space where Intel had long ago stolen a march. Let’s take a look at the most popular motherboards and processors of that era, the technologies involved and some of the more impressive scores submitted on HWBOT.
In terms of technical detail, the AM3+ Socket was in many respects virtually identical to its predecessor, the AM3 Socket. Motherboards arriving with the new AM3+ Socket also sported revised and updated AMD 900 series chipsets, the most popular with HWBOT users being the top tier 990FX which effectively replaced the previous generation 880FX.
New AMD AM3+ series motherboards were officially launched in June of 2011, some months before the Bulldozer-based FX-series CPUs arrived on the scene. In terms of CPU support the new socket was backwards compatible with AM3 series processors that include Phenom, Athlon and Sempron chips that also used a DDR3 compatible memory controller. Previous AM2+ platform processors were not supported. Enthusiasts had to wait until October 2011 before they could complement the new socket and chipset with the revamped FX lineup of CPUs based on the Bulldozer and subsequent Piledriver architectures.
Our Motherboard Memory Lane series today arrives at the AMD Socket FM1 era. The arrival of the FM1 Socket heralded a significant change in direction for AMD which launched its first Accelerated Processor Units or APUs in the market. Aimed at the mainstream to entry-level segment the new platform hoped to woo PC enthusiasts and overclockers with a relatively decent CPU coupled with a much beefier integrated GPU. Let’s take a closer at the new platform, the motherboards and processors that were popular during this era and of course, some of the most notable scores posted on HWBOT.
The arrival of the AMD FM1 Socket marked a pivotal change in the overall AMD product lineup. Socket FM1 would become the mid-range and entry-level platform leaving the mature AM3+ platform to spearhead its high-end offerings. Whereas previous mainstream platforms from AMD had relied upon a Northbridge Chipset such as the AMD 880G and AMD 880GX to deliver integrated graphics and digital display outputs, the new FM1 platform used Accelerated Processor Units had a much more substantial GPU baked into the processor itself. AMD would later release its Bulldozer-based AMD FX series processors on the AM3+ platform in an attempt to better compete with Intel’s recently arrived Sandy Bridge offerings.