AMD unveils Trinity chipsets to challenge Ivy Bridge
AMD’s Llano APU design has been a hit for the firm and while its CPU compute performance was disappointing, its Radeon HD 6000 series graphics blew Intel’s HD Graphics out of the water and provided OpenCL support. Now AMD has revamped the CPU and refreshed the GPU with its Trinity APU.
AMD admits that Trinity is its most important launch of the year and it is easy to see why. Not only has AMD introduced its Piledriver processor architecture, which it desperately needs to deliver after Bulldozer’s disappointment, the firm claims it can compete with Intel on performance and battery life in the thin and light market with a 17W part.
AMD said it is focusing on laptops initially with the launch of five Trinity APU parts. At the top end, AMD’s A10-A4600M is a quad-core 2.3GHz processor with turbo boost to 3.2GHz and an integrated on-die Radeon HD 7660G GPU.
Much as with Llano, AMD has three products in its Trinity A-series, with the A6 and A8 chips being dual-core and quad-core parts, respectively. The firm’s A8-4500 has four cores clocked at 1.9GHz, which can be boosted to 2.8GHz, with 4MB of Level 2 cache and the GPU bumped down to a Radeon HD 7640G.
At the low end, AMD’s A6-4400M is a dual-core chip clocked at 2.7GHz that can be boosted to 3.2GHz. The Radeon HD 7520G, like the GPUs in the A8 and A10 processors, is clocked at 497MHz and 686MHz at standard and boosted frequencies, respectively.
AMD also has quad-core A10-4655M and dual-core A6-4455M chips with 25W and 17W TDP ratings, respectively. AMD achieved this by cutting back on the clock speeds of both the CPU and GPU cores, but nevertheless these parts can be slipped into ultrabooks, or as AMD likes to call them, ultrathins.
Although AMD said its Trinity APUs have Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cores, the company confirmed that they are in fact based on the older Northern Islands architecture, meaning that they have little performance correlation with the impressive Southern Island GPUs the firm released at the tail end of 2011 in the Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs.
AMD also refreshed its Brazos embedded APU, boosting standard clock speeds by a whole 100MHz while the boosted clock speed rises by 50MHz. Nevertheless, AMD has increased the GPU frequency to 523MHz and 680MHz for standard and boosted, respectively, while bringing out native USB 3.0, SATA3 and SD card reader support along with its Quickstream technology in what it terms “Brazos 2.0″.
AMD is very keen to show off Quickstream, a technology that limits network card bandwidth in order to lower CPU utilisation, allowing for smoother playback according to the firm. The reason AMD has to do this is due to the cheap and nasty PHYs installed on motherboards that ramp up CPU utilisation when used at high bandwidths.
AMD admitted to The INQUIRER that as video bandwidth increases this feature will show “diminishing returns” because the software cannot limit the throughput without hurting playback quality.
As for availability, AMD said laptops will appear on the shelves for the back-to-school buying period, with Toshiba confirming that it won’t have laptops out until July. As for desktop processor parts, AMD said they won’t arrive until at least the third quarter because it wants to concentrate on laptops.
For AMD it really is Trinity or bust. While Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 is barely able to keep up with AMD’s previous generation Llano chips, the truth is that AMD needs its Trinity chips to appear in cheap thin and light laptops that rival the slew of Intel processor based ultrabooks that are expected to arrive throughout the latter half of the year.
While AMD’s 17W Trinity parts give AMD an option, the fact that its partners have said that they will wait until the back to school buying period to launch means that in the UK at least, punters will have to wait to see the full range of AMD Trinity APU chip based products.