The AMD Llano Notebook Review: Competing in the Mobile Marketby Jarred Walton & Anand Lal Shimpi on June 14, 2011 12:01 AM EST
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|
(4x1.5GHz, 2.4GHz Turbo, 32nm, 4x1MB L2, 35W)
|Memory||2x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)|
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|
Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Realtek ALC269 HD audio
Headphone and microphone jacks
|Battery||6-Cell, 58Wh battery|
|Front Side||Flash reader|
1 x USB 3.0
AC adapter port
2x USB 2.0
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1|
|Dimensions||13.5" x 9.5" x 1.3-1.5" (WxDxH)|
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
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.