The Lynx Platform & Dual Graphics
The Lynx Platform
The Lynx platform consists of AMD's new A75 or A55 Fusion Controller Hub (FCH) or what was formerly known as the Southbridge. We have previewed four A75 motherboards from ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI and besides the new FM1 socket, what these new A75 motherboards have over its Intel counterparts is this - native USB 3.0 support. While Intel boards nowadays come with third-party USB 3.0 controllers anyway, AMD claims that its native solution has a slight edge in real-world performance. We haven't actually tested this aspect yet, but it's always nice to see progress made here. Do note that native USB 3.0 support is only present on the A75 FCH and not the A55.
The other advantage that AMD holds over Intel is the presence of six SATA 6Gbps ports. That's four more than the two SATA ports on Intel chipsets, though it's something that AMD has had on its chipsets since the 800-series. Again, the A55 is the cost effective option and will only have SATA 3Gbps support.
Those who are thinking of setting up dual graphics cards on an A75 motherboard despite its mainstream nature will find the FCH to be quite accommodating. A single PCIe 2.0 x16 lane is available and we have already seen x8/x8 configurations on A75 boards. Besides this, the other features that you can expect to see on the A75 FCH are the usual - HD audio and up to 12 USB 1.1/2.0 ports.
AMD's Dual Graphics allows users to pair a suitable Radeon HD graphics card with the APU in a CrossFireX configuration that will give a boost to graphics performance. One could say it's just another form of ATI's Hybrid Graphics technology, as the idea is similar. AMD has already listed the recommended graphics card to pair with each APU and for our A8-3850, that is the Radeon HD 6670. The general rule is that the performance discrepancy between the integrated and the discrete should be minimized if possible to get the best out of this technology.
In our mobile Llano preview, we had talked a bit about the technology. For the desktop version, AMD recommends that one connects the display to the integrated graphics output, and not the discrete graphics card that is paired. This is because the Catalyst drivers that enable Dual Graphics only works on the operating system level, so users who link the display to the discrete graphics' outputs, they will not get the bootup screen at all. It will be all black on the display till the OS is loaded. AMD tells us that they are looking into updating the drivers or BIOS to improve this situation, but currently, that's how things are.
From our experience with two A75 motherboards, each motherboard vendor may have their own BIOS implementation to enable this functionality, so we highly recommend that users read through the manual on the proper sequence. If done correctly, users will be able to check the 'Enable CrossFireX' check box in the Catalyst Control Panel.