Application Performance, Round One: PCMark 7

If the battery life was a pleasant change of pace, general application unfortunately remains a weak spot for AMD. Remember that Llano uses a tweaked K10.5 architecture for the CPU portion of the core, and while L2 cache per core is doubled relative to the previous generation quad-core Phenom parts, clock speeds and IPC (instructions per clock) still appear much lower than what Intel offers. I had hoped to see Turbo Core come into play here, which makes the comparison with Toshiba’s A660D a good starting point. That notebook has a Phenom II X4 P920 (quad-core 1.6GHz) with HD 5650M graphics, so the Llano A8-3500M has very similar specs.

Before we get to the graphs, let me make a quick note that not all laptops have been tested in all applications/games. Most of the systems have been shipped back to the manufacturer, so our newer benchmarks are going to have omissions (e.g. PCMark 7). In the gaming charts later in the review, we’ll have even more omissions, and many of the slower GPUs/IGPs will only be tested at our “low” settings.

With that out of the way, let’s start our application performance comparison with PCMark7, our only all-inclusive benchmark for laptops right now. We’ve run all of the benchmarks suites in the hopes of providing a better look at overall performance; however, outside of the “Computation” suite all of the tests have a storage element. That means any system with an SSD (like the quad-core SNB unit) will boast a massive advantage over the competition. The Computation suite also has an interesting footnote in that it supports Intel’s Quick Sync for video encoding, which again gives SNB systems a massive performance advantage. You can read more about the specific suites in PCMark 7 in their whitepaper. We’ll also have two results for Llano going forward: one for using the fGPU (6620G) and a second for using the dGPU (6630M).

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

And here’s our first hint that Llano may not be the homerun so many were hoping to see from AMD. All of the SNB laptops are still a healthy step up from Llano in overall PCMarks—the K53E leads by 43%, and systems with quad-core SNB are faster still. Llano might appear to at least surpass the previous generation Arrandale i5-520M in Dell’s E6410, but the storage subsystem in that laptop is a particularly slow 160GB HDD and that skews the results. Then again, the overclocked Arrandale i3-380M in the ASUS U41JF falls short of Llano, so AMD is at the very least competitive with Arrandale.

Since we’re not on a level playing field as far as storage, we won’t comment too much more here, but I do have SSD-based testing complete for four of the notebooks, and once I’ve swapped in an SSD for Llano we’ll have a follow-up article. Let’s move on to application testing round two, where we’ll look at some tests where we eliminate the storage bottleneck.

Battery Life: All Day Computing Applications, Round Two: Treading Water
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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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