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How Socket Compatibility Works

Every computer builds around the idea of a processor mounted on a motherboard. The socket is the physical and electrical interface that connects the two. One of the ways that manufacturers ensure that people only use compatible components is by changing the physical connector every time they change the electrical interface.

What's the Difference Between a CPU and an APU?

AMD divides its processor offerings into two categories: CPUs and APUs. In general, the former is for mid-range and high-end computers, while the latter more often targets at entry-level computers; especially laptops. Both are capable of running in the same systems, and many even fit in in the same socket but there are some distinct differences:

  • CPU: The Central Processing Unit is the standard processor found in most desktop computers. It handles all the system's general purpose processing needs but it does not handle graphics; for that you need a separate GPU either in a discrete unit or integrated into the motherboard chipset.
  • APU: The Accelerated Processing Unit combines the CPU with a dedicated graphics core in the same package. It aims to offset the traditional weakness of integrated graphics by combining a dedicated Radeon graphics processor with the CPU core so that you can put both in the same socket. It's a simple way to improve both performance and power efficiency.

What is Socket FM2 Compatible With?

AMD Socket FM2 is a processor socket that's primarily for APU use but also compatible with some microprocessors from the Athlon family. It's a budget solution aiming at supporting various "Piledriver" class microprocessors. System boards using the FM2 socket work with the following processor Types:

  • Dual-Core A-Series: These processors feature two logical cores and two physical threads along with the integrated Radeon HD7660 GPU, and market under the A4 and A6 names.
  • Quad-Core A-Series: These A8 and A10 processors feature the same graphics core, but twice the number of cores and threads for improved multi-tasking performance.
  • Athlon: Available with either two or four cores, these CPUs lack the integrated graphics and require a discrete adapter to function.

Using FM2 Systems

Every computer processor architecture performs better under some workloads than others. For FM2-compatible systems the target usage appears to be that of the budget gamer. The graphics solution can combine with discrete adapters for improved performance. Note that while FM2+ processors can operate in FM2 based motherboards, the converse is not true. FM2 processors are not compatible with Socket FM2+. It's a way to provide an upgrade path for people who want improved performance but not at the cost of a whole new system.

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