AMD A8-3850 : An HTPC Perspectiveby Ganesh T S on June 30, 2011 6:20 AM EST
The AMD 6550D in the A8-3850 is much better than the Intel HD 3000 Graphics in video post processing quality. However, this leads to increased expectations like support for full post processing on Blu-ray videos. Unfortunately, the 6550D has a number of issues which prevent it from fulfilling the requirement.
The Enforce Smooth Video Playback feature needs more work if it is going to get enabled by default. Instead of having pre-defined conditions, it would be beneficial to activate this feature on the fly. Currently, the monitor resolution, input video resolution and bitrate are taken into account while deciding to enable or disable ESVP. This very feature causes botched playback of streams which play properly on the Sandy Bridge systems.
Does the AMD 6550D render a discrete HTPC GPU redundant? With the current state of affairs, we have to say that the market for GPUs such as the GT 430 and the AMD 6570 will remain in place for some time to come.
Features like CrossFire support indicate that AMD seems to have targeted the gamers more than the HTPC enthusiasts with the 6550D. It is also unfortunate that AMD doesn't offer a way to take advantage of a discrete GPU (outside of CF) from a HTPC perspective. SteadyVideo is a nice feature to have, but it comes with its own disadvantages.
There is no QuickSync-like efficient transcoding support in the A8-3850. However, we do not believe it is currently a con for AMD from the perspective of HTPC enthusiasts. QuickSync may become beneficial to HTPC users once open source support materializes or x264 is able to utilize some part of that dedicated silicon encoder, both of which seem unlikely to happen in the near future. [Update: Andrew Van Til has QuickSync support in his DVRMSToolBox utility, but we are looking for more FOSS developers to jump onto the QuickSync bandwagon]
Retaining low end GPU performance for Brazos could have been accepted, but having the same restrictions on the APUs for the mainstream market doesn't pass muster. The 6550D may be a good first step for AMD to counter Intel's GPUs in the HTPC market, but our expectations from the desktop Llano were much higher.