AMD FM2 Chipsets
You need a supporting chipset in order to get your new APU up and running; not just any supporting chipset but one that is mated with the proper FM2 socket. The AMD FM1 socket launched last year and its usefulness has been short-lived although it is relatively new on the market. Instincts tell me that the physical changes made to the socket are quite similar to the changes from AMD's white AM3 socket to the black AM3+ socket, which, at the same time, also changed power delivery a fair bit in order to add support for AMD's newest Bulldozer cores. Bulldozer cores themselves never made it to the APU market, and these new APUs are fitted with the new Piledriver cores, rather than taking last year's tech and making a new product out of old parts. Anyways, those shiny new Piledriver cores need slightly different power delivery and connectivity to the chipset which is why FM2 is here. No, it is NOT backwards compatible with older APUs, nor can you pop a new AMD A10-5800K into your FM1-socketed motherboard.
AMD has three chipsets lined up to support the AMD FM2 APUs: AMD A55, AMD A75, and AMD A85X. The former two, AMD A55 and AMD A75, have been on the market since the FM1 APU launch, and the features offered by those chipsets are not going to change at all. AMD A55 offers a slightly different feature set than that of the AMD A75 chip, and the new AMD A85X simply expands on that. I have stuck three images provided to me by AMD below to shows these differences:
The A55 has SATA 3 Gb/s support and supports a single VGA slot. The AMD A55 clearly targets signage boxes and, perhaps, light office clients. It is meant to be used with both the A6 and A4 APU products
The AMD A75 offers SATA 6Gb/s support (six ports total natively), adds FIS-based switching for those SATA ports, and has native USB 3.0 support. The AMD A75 is more for mainstream users, like your mom or dad who are also interested in snappy drive and external device operation, thanks to native USB 3.0 and that SATA 6 Gb/s support. It is, naturally, geared towards both A8 and A6 APUs.
The AMD A85X supports eight total SATA 6 Gb/s ports with FIS-based switching and adds in CrossfireX support. The new AMD A85X targets gamers and enthusiasts, as well as those that like to keep up with the latest and greatest in technology. AMD intends you to pair this chipset up with AMD A10, AMD A8, and "K"-level, "Unlocked" APUs.
In the end, it's pretty basic. Each chipset, or Fusion Controller Hub(FCH for short), has its specific use and, thereby, a specific target market. Those that don't need as much can pick a chipset that doesn't give them as much while, at the same time, saving money through features that chipset lacks. It looks like you might get exactly what you pay for. It will be interesting to see how AMD's board partners assess the AMD FM2 APUs, and what sort of products they design for it.
The AMD A85X is the newest chipset out of the three and adds a few new things. AMD sent me the above block diagram of the FCH functionality, which shows all the features and which part of the platform, whether APU or FCH, supports which features.
For today's testing, AMD supplied me with a Gigabyte product called the F2A85X-UP4. This board features Gigabyte's "Ultra Durable5" VRM design and is built to be ready for overclocking and watercooling. Seems like a perfect choice to see what we can get when overclocking, especially since I'll be using a Corsair H100 for cooling. I'll have a full review of the board up at a later date.