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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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Just looking at transistor count misses most of the story. The highly repetitive layout in the GPU allows for much denser transistor layout, the die is only 5% larger. That's close enough that factors like yield and raw per wafer cost become at least as important. Reply
  • Lunyone - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Looks like we're finally getting close to having integrated graphics good enough for some good light gaming :) Hopefully these won't be priced to high to sell. There are sooo many Sandy Bridge based laptops out there that are within the $500-600 price range it isn't even funny. I hope we can get the top of the line Llano for about $600-650. I think the C50 or E-350 have been relegated down to tablet only now, since Llano is where it's at now. Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Brazos will likely keep its place at the lower price point and smaller size laptops. It would be interesting to see if the larger E-350 laptops will be replaced by Llano or will survive. I was surprised they were even introduced, but it's possible that if people are buying them they will continue to do so.

    Still, I'm hoping that Llano can make it into small form factor laptops.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I am definitely ready to buy a Llano powered laptop. I suspect Llano will suit the needs of the largest notebook segment and deliver better graphics at a lower price point. AMD is bound to take notebook market share from Intel. I wouldn't ever consider an Intel product. Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    What? The largest notebook segment doesn't care about GPUs in a laptop. Look at Apple - a non-gaming platform more or less - and quarter after quarter has the highest growth in the notebook market share. The fact that Intel HD graphics command #1 market share in the mobile and desktop space also shows that the the majority of consumers don't care about mobile graphics beyond watching HD content.

    So with Llano you get a GPU that's still only fast enough for 1368x768 resolution gaming at the lowest settings and CPU performance that's only as fast as a Q6700 from 2007. Llano only makes sense if you are on a budget to buy a laptop. If you care about CPU performance, it's too slow. If you care about GPU performance, it's again too slow. So the only customer it will find is a niche one until they can create an APU with Bulldozer cores inside and a much faster GPU.

    We have also seen a significant surge in consumers that desire premium made notebooks. Llano designs will likely be relegated to cheap looking and cheap quality laptops. Certainly it wont be able to compete with Ultrabooks.

    I am almost certain that most of today's consumers will care about screen resolution, an SSD, the quality of the screen/materials build quality of the laptop before even thinking about the fact that Llano's GPU is faster than Intel's. Then there is AMD's past history of having unimpressive mobile CPUs over the last 5+ years. It's going to take 2-3 generations before consumers even think about switching brands in such a scenario. Most people will just buy an Intel based SB notebook simply because Intel has made the best mobile processor for the last "forever".

    This is a good step for AMD, but they have a long road ahead.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    The share count is no longer relevant since an IGP is deployed anyhow with each system, while there are many delivered with discrete it still counts as an IGP also.

    Have a look at your so called apple highest growth market... it ships with discrete ATI graphics.....

    Actually most don't know that the IGP is crappy, they are fooled by adiot sales and large electronic vendors who try to push there margins.

    THis is the introduction generation that will shed some light, just look at the brazos also, it has been a success and even atom refresh wil not be able to take this back.
    Reply
  • nickb64 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    arguably the most popular Apple laptop, the 13" Pro, now ships with Intel Integrated graphics, not discrete ATI/AMD graphics

    Overall, you're right, but I just wanted to point out that Intel is probably getting a pretty solid boost out of 13" MBP sales this year.
    Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    lol that's quite something to give Apple as an example for what the average user needs.Macs are niche products and will remain so without fundamental strategy changes.

    ps:how outraged would you be if tomorrow the new Air shows up with a Llano in it?
    pps:today's average consumer makes a few hundreds $ per month and is not looking for high resolution (not that he knows wtf resolution is anyway) or SSD.
    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Intel wouldn't ship Air with Llano, not until they can deliver Bulldozer cores. Why would they ship a laptop with 50% slower CPU speed and go backwards? Not to mention, they'd lose Thunderbolt if they ditched SB. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Thunderbolt is PCIe. Reply

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