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AMD’s Llano Mobile Test Platform

Similar to our Sandy Bridge Notebook, AMD shipped us a test notebook that likely will not actually hit the market. It’s also early hardware, as we haven’t received anything from the usual suspects, but performance and battery life should be representative of what we’ll see in shipping hardware. There’s still room for BIOS, firmware, and driver optimizations, so if anything we’d expect some scores to even improve from what we’re reporting, but for now we can get a starting point for what to expect from shipping Llano laptops and notebooks. Our test notebook is manufactured by Compal, and we understand there was a very limited production run, so what we’ve got is an existing shell with a new motherboard, slapped together for preview articles. Here are the specifications of our test system.

AMD Llano Notebook Specifications
Processor AMD A8-3500M
(4x1.5GHz, 2.4GHz Turbo, 32nm, 4x1MB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD A70M
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6620G 1GB DDR3
(400 Radeon Cores, 444MHz)

AMD Radeon HD 6630M 1GB DDR3
(480 Radeon Cores, 485MHz/1.6GHz Core/RAM clocks)

Dual Radeon HD 6690G2 (Asymmetrical CrossFire)
Display 14.0-inch LED Matte 16:9 1366x768
Hard Drive(s) Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 250GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gbps Hard Disk
Optical Drive Blu-ray/DVDRW Combo Drive
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
802.11b/g/n (Broadcom)
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 58Wh battery
Front Side Flash reader
Left Side 1 x USB 3.0
HDMI 1.4a
Ethernet
VGA
Exhaust vent
AC adapter port
Right Side Headphone/microphone jacks
2x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Kensington lock
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 13.5" x 9.5" x 1.3-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.78 lbs
Extras Webcam
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB 3.0

AMD equipped this laptop with their highest performance 35W part, the A8-3500M. That gives us four cores running at a nominal 1.5GHz, all 400 Radeon Cores clocked at 444MHz, and the potential for Turbo Core to take the CPU has high as 2.4GHz. Here’s where we run into our first snag, unfortunately: apparently there’s no software currently available that will report the actual real-time core speeds for the CPU or GPU. Turbo Core appears to be working in some cases, but we don’t know how fast the CPU cores are running. We’ll see the results in the benchmarks in a moment, but for now it appears that the Llano Turbo Core isn’t quite as aggressive as Sandy Bridge’s Turbo Boost.

One interesting aspect of the test notebook is that it comes equipped with both the integrated Fusion GPU (fGPU) along with an HD 6630M discrete GPU (dGPU). The 6630M is a Turks core with 480 Radeon cores clocked at 485MHz (well, this GPU is clocked at 485; the specs for 6630M are actually 500MHz), with 1GB of DDR3-800 memory. We'll see what happens when we enable Dual Radeon later.

The rest of the notebook specs are pretty much what you’d expect. The hard drive is a 250GB 7200RPM model from Hitachi, so performance won’t be quite as good as the latest 500GB+ models and it won’t come anywhere near SSD levels. Networking is present and accounted for, with both Gigabit Ethernet and 2.4GHz 802.11n WiFi. The optical drive is Blu-ray capable (despite the DVDRW face plate in the pictures), and there’s even a USB 3.0 port.

We could discuss the build quality, keyboard, and screen quality, but there’s no real point in doing so on a laptop that won’t see full production. The keyboard is the “floating island” style commonly seen in Acer builds, which Compal apparently manufactures, and the LCD is a matte panel for a change (but still low contrast). The overall build quality isn’t bad, but we expect to see better retail builds from Acer, ASUS, HP, Lenovo, and others so we won’t spend any more time discussing the specifics of this laptop other than to note that it has a reasonable 58Wh battery and a 14” LCD. Expected pricing is $500 for laptops with A4 APUs, $600 for A6 APUs, and $700+ for the A8 series. Adding a discrete GPU like the 6630M (and thus enabling Asymmetrical CrossFire) should tack on another ~$100.

AMD is quoting “over eight hours” of battery life, but that’s highly dependent on what you’re doing as well as battery capacity. Since that’s going to be one of the major improvements with Llano, we’re going to start there.

Introducing Mobile Llano Battery Life: All Day Computing
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  • phantom505 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I went with a K325 in a Toshiba with a Radeon IGP. Nobody I have lent it out to has every complained about it being slow or incapable of doing what they wanted/needed to. I get about 5 hours of battery life consistently. I don't do too much that is CPU intensive but I hear people moan and groan about the E-350 and Atom both when they try to open 50MB+ ppt files. I have no such problems.

    I for one an quite happy to see that AMD is still leading this segment since most users will be quite happy with AMD. I'm finding it more and more that Intel may own the top end, but nobody I know cares in the slightest.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    E-350 is generally faster than K325 + IGP. Then than that, I fully agree. Reply
  • ash9 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    In this price range, I think not, besides Open(X) applications will reveal the potential - its up to the application developers now Reply
  • GaMEChld - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    My netbook is a pain to use precisely because of its graphics. It cannot properly play youtube or movie files fluently. Aside from its multi-media problems, I don't try to do ridiculous things on a netbook, so the other components are not much of a factor for me. But if I can't even watch videos properly, then it's trash.

    Luckily, I got that netbook for free, so I'm not that sad about it. I'll probably sell it on eBay and get a Brazos netbook at some point.
    Reply
  • hvakrg - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Yes, they're becoming primary machines, but what exactly do you need the CPU part for in a primary machine today? Let's face it most people use their computer to browse the web, listen to music and watch videos, all of which are either relying on the GPU today or is clearly moving in that direction.

    Intel will have an advantage in the hardcore CPU market probably forever due to them being years ahead of the competition in manufacturing processes, but what advantage does that give them when it comes to selling computers to the end user? Things like battery life and GPU performance is what will be weighted in the future.
    Reply
  • Broheim - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    personally I need it to compile thousands of lines of code sometimes several times a day, if I were to settle for a E-350 I'd die of old age long before I get my masters in computer science.... some of us actually gives our 2600k @ 4.5ghz a run for it's money.

    th G in GPU doesn't stand for General... the GPU can only do a few highly specialized tasks, it's never going to replace and will always rely on the CPU. Unless you're a gamer you benifit much more from a fast CPU than a fast GPU, and even as a gamer you still need a good CPU.

    don't believe me? take a E-350 and do all the things you listed, then strap a HD6990 onto it and try and see if you can tell the difference...
    trust me, you can't.
    Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Compiling code is a minority application, although I did that at a pinch on a 1.2GHz Pentium M, so the E-350 would do as well. Certainly won't use it for my main development machine, I agree.

    Still, as hvakrg said, most users do web browsing, listen to music, watch video. The E-350 would work well enough for that.
    Reply
  • sinigami - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    >most users do web
    >browsing, listen to music,
    >watch video. The E-350
    >would work well enough
    >for that.

    The Atom also works well enough for that, for less money.

    You might be pleasantly surprised to find that current Atom netbooks can play 720p MKVs. For netbook level video, that's "well enough".

    As you said, for anything tougher than that, i wouldn't use it for my "main machine" either.
    Reply
  • ionave - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    Why would you spend $2000 for an intel powered laptop when you can build a desktop to do computations for a quarter of the price at 20x the speed, and get a laptop for $400 to run code on the desktop remotely and use it for lighter tasks? I'm surprised that you are a masters student in computer science, because your lack of logic doesn't reflect it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but why would you compute on the go when you can let the code on a desktop or cluster while the laptop is safely powered down in your backpack?

    Also, I can run Super Mario Galaxy using dolphin (CPU intensive) emulator at full frame rate on my AMD Phenom II X2 BE, and the cores in the A8 are improved versions of Phenom II X4. You really need to get your facts straight, since the CPU is actually VERY good. Go look at the benchmarks and do your research
    Reply
  • Broheim - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    he clearly said primary machine, so before you go around insulting me I'd suggest you learn how to read.
    the 2600K is a desktop CPU you douchebucket, I never said my main machine was a laptop, quite to the contrary.

    what you can and can't do is of no interrest to me, but first off, I never mentioned the A8 I said E-350, again with the failure to read.
    nevertheless...
    K10 is not even a match for Nehalem, and so far behind Sandy bridge it's ridiculous.
    I've seen the benchmarks, I've done my research and concluded that the A8 CPU is far from "VERY" good, have you done yours?
    Reply

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