AMD A8-3850 APU Review: Llano Hits the Desktop

Author: MAC
Date: June 29, 2011
Product Name: AMD A8-3850
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High Definition Content for the Masses

The Llano APUs may use an older graphics architecture but it has been slightly overhauled to bring it up to modern standards. One of the areas which garnered some massaging was high definition playback compatibility by brining the ubiquitous Universal Video Decoder up to the third generation spec seen on AMD’s HD 6000-series. This is particularly important since it brings hardware acceleration of high definition content to much lower price points.

AMD’s Universal Video Decoder has been around for years and is known as one of the most capable video processing platforms currently available. Recently, UVD took the next logical step forward with an expanded list of accelerated codecs in addition to the ones already in place from past iterations.

One of the main features which has been added to the newly minted UVD3 is the ability to decode videos which use MVC encoding. As part of the H264 / MPEG-4 AVC codec, MVC is responsible for creating the dual video bitstreams which are essential for stereoscopic 3D output. Supporting this standard gives AMD’s APUs the ability to process Blu Ray 3D movies through a HDMI 1.4a connector. MPEG-4 Part 2 hardware acceleration for DivX and Xvid codecs has also been added but the Nero Digital codec is still MIA for the most part.

AMD’s main focus for Llano’s HD content features was to go beyond simply decoding HD content and give users high end image quality improvements which are processed prior to the signal reaching the display. Through the use of the compute resources within a given system, additional pre and post-processing can be done before outputting an HD video stream. The result is some impressive HD playback capabilities for Llano…

In our quick testing, the A8-3850 had absolutely no problem decoding high bitrate content and compatibility with Dolby TrueHD and DTS MA tracks was seamless provided the necessary options were selected in PowerDVD. AMD’s new processor also thoroughly trounces the Intel HD 2000 IGP in both movies. Also note that any “CPU Only” result above does not include HD audio track decoding.

Decoding the dual MVC HD bitstreams necessary for Blu Ray 3D playback is just too much to handle for your typical processor and even the Sandy Bridge IGP displayed some catastrophic results. We’re not sure if it was a lack of driver support or something else but the i3 2120’s IGP flat our refused to run any stereo 3D content through the HDMI 1.4 connector. Hopefully, this will be rectified soon with a driver revision.

Despite the load being put on the system by stereo 3D content and a DTS-HD audio track, the A8’s IGP had no issue in this test which is a testament to AMD’s refined video processing engine and codec support. Granted, the processor load was quite high but we can’t expect anything less when the engine is crunching through so much data.

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