Present day consumers use their PCs for multimedia intensive tasks such as HD video playback. These HTPC tasks are not very power efficient when done using the x86 processor alone. Gamers have remained the main focus of the GPU developers. However, the GPU architecture (coupled with a dedicated video decoder on the same silicon) is quite useful for video playback and post processing also. This lightens the load on the x86 processor, and so, even consumers who rarely game opt to go for a discrete HTPC graphics card.

Intel used to integrate the GPU into the chipset till the GMA X4500. In Clarkdale, the integrated GPU became a part of the processor package itself, and eventually became a part of the main die in Sandy Bridge. The GMA X4500 and later models have a very efficient decoder, and renders a discrete HTPC graphics card redundant for most entry level users. AMD, unfortunately, had support for integrated graphics in only some of their chipset models. That is set to change today, as Lynx (the desktop version of the Llano) makes its way into the market. Ever since AMD acquired ATI, a processor with AMD's x86 CPU and ATI's GPU on the same die was hotly expected. The Lynx integrates a number of AMD Stars cores and also an updated Redwood class GPU (called Sumo) into the same die.

GPU Area in the Llano vs. GPU Area in Sandy Bridge (Die shots approximately to scale)

GPU support for basic HD video decoding and the 3D fad (Blu-rays) is provided by all the current platforms from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. From an HTPC perspective, mainstream consumers have started feeling the need for good, flexible video post processing capabilities also. Discrete AMD GPUs are well respected in the HTPC community, and the Redwood class GPUs have been used to override the Clarkdale's IGP in many a setup. Can the Sumo wrestle the spot away from Intel HD3000 Graphics in HTPCs?

Lynx HTPC Testbed Setup
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  • ganeshts - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    For casual HTPC users (or even non-HTPC .. just users who want to play back HD video), there was no need for a discrete HTPC GPU starting with the Clarkdales / Arrandales (some would say even with the IGP in the 4500, but let us not talk about that because it was a pain to use).

    Hey, it looks like AMD's latest GPUs are not even able to decode videos that SNB / Clarkdale has no trouble with! (agreed it is a driver issue, but when are they going to fix it? We reported it 6 months back)

    Agreed about Intel's GPU very weak, but only for gaming. And for videos, the only place 6550D stands out is in deinterlacing quality (most people are OK with proper playback of progressive content).

    Atom deserves to get creamed in any way it can. But, I don't ever suggest people buy Atom based products (and I still advise friends to avoid anything with that level of performance, which includes Brazos) -- though market might not agree with me here. ION market no longer exists.

    The other propositions, I agree with. In this piece, I restricted myself to HTPC performance.
    Reply
  • cyrusfox - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    I can respect and agree with your response, it just originally seemed to me that you were trumping Intel unfairly in regards to GPU integration efforts. But strictly in regards to video consumption in an HTPC, I can't fault your analysis, my apologies.

    As for AMD and its drivers, it can take awhile for them to get all the issues right(many times I have to opt for a hotfix release to fix one issue only to create another). But I have a little more faith in AMD releasing a driver update that corrects its issues than Intel. Then again you will be testing to see if you can achieve 23.976 Hz on SB with a new driver in the works, maybe Intel is stepping up there GPU driver game. Shoot, maybe Intel will even get the linux community sorted(we can hope!)
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    "HTPC Quality is better on Liano vs"

    What? You didn't even finish that sentence. HTPC Quality is better on i3-2100 + proper dGPU than on Llano.

    Then you throw at us some opinions totally unsupported by facts.

    "Features are better on AMD chipsets"

    Again, just an opinion and a flawed one. How are AMD chipsets better than Intel chipsets? You can't just say that without telling us what is better on AMD side or missing on Intel's. I can't really find anything.

    "Performance idle and playback is lower then Intel "
    No. The former is true, but the latter is a lie. In the main review Llano won just one power consumption test and lost the other four.

    Instead of accusing a quality review of bias without any facts to support it, just go away already.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    The tests in the article seem to find video playback quality better on Llano. And much better for games.

    Superior features on the AMD chipset: USB 3, more SATA2 ports, typically better sound chip than on H61 boards (that's an OEM choice though, I just couldn't fnd an H61 board with ALC 892.. I didn't look much).

    Indeed lower idle power, higher under load.
    Reply
  • maroon1 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    What is the cheapest motherboard for Llano ?

    H61 motherboards can be found for $60 and H67 can found for only $75 in newegg

    Is there any Llano motherboard that cost same in newegg ?
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    give it a bit of time ? Reply
  • just4U - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I've found the past few years that AMD boards are higher quality with more features then their Intel counterparts in similiar price ranges. I think it has to do with Intel charging more for their chipset maybe.. (a guess). AT could easily confirm this observation I think since they must have noticed the same thing. Reply
  • just4U - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    as an afterthought..

    Outside of OEM you really don't see bare bones Amd Boards like you do for Intel $60 boards. They'd have to sell them for 35-40 bucks and margins would be so low it's just not worth it. So they add more to bump the cost up (and appeal) making AMD's rock bottom boards equivelent to Intels $100 offerings.
    Reply
  • T2k - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    prdola0,

    you are surely retarded, I must say - which part you STILL cannot grasp?

    For HTPC Llano is better EVERY WAY when compared to Intel's shitty Sandy Bridge solution and still scores better when compared to your Intel + VGA setup, first and foremost thanks to much lower power consumption which is one of the primary considerations when building an HTPC.
    Reply
  • L. - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Mhhh no.
    Any other APU with the same GFX will do the same, I have no data about the others, but seeing how much this is memory constrained I would expect scaling to be non-linear in favor of the worse igp's.

    You will save slightly less than 30 bucks on the memory if you really want to buy 1333 today.
    BUT!
    You will also save only 30 bucks if you go for 2133mhz ram, with which the Llano performs much better, as shown in other reviews.

    4Gigs of 1333 (dual) : $33.99
    4Gigs of 1600(dual): $37.99
    4Gigs of 1866(dual): $59.99
    4Gigs of 2133(dual): $64.99

    Your I3+mobo already costs 20 bucks more than the Llano+mobo.

    i3 : $124.99
    cheapest p67 : $104.99
    Total : 230

    Llano A8 : $135 (announced)
    cheapest Llano mb : $70 (announced)
    Total 205

    Well .. I guess you could consider having a $5 rebate on your discrete GPU a total win in favor of i3 ...

    Need real numbers ? Go check newegg it's not my job ;)

    So in effect you are telling me that a more expensive system will be better... I do trust you on that ;)
    Reply

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