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Mobile Trinity Lineup

Trinity is of course coming in two flavors, just like Llano before it. On the desktop, we’ll have Virgo chips, but those are coming later this year (around Q3); right now, Trinity is only on laptops. On laptops the codename for Trinity is Comal. AMD has also dropped wattages on their mobile flavors, so where Llano saw 35W and 45W mobile parts, with Comal AMD will have 17W, 25W, and 35W parts. (The desktop Trinity chips will apparently retain their 65W and 100W targets.) There aren’t a ton of mobile Trinity chips launching today; instead, AMD has five different APUs and each one targets a distinct market segment. Here’s the quick rundown:

AMD Trinity A-Series Fusion APUs for Notebooks
APU Model A10-4600M A8-4500M A6-4400M A10-4655M A6-4455M
“Piledriver” CPU Cores 4 4 2 4 2
CPU Clock (Base/Max) 2.3/3.2GHz 1.9/2.8GHz 2.7/3.2GHz 2.0/2.8GHz 2.1/2.6GHz
L2 Cache (MB) 4 4 1 4 2
Radeon Model HD 7660G HD 7640G HD 7520G HD 7620G HD 7500G
Radeon Cores 384 256 192 384 256
GPU Clock (Base/Max) 497/686MHz 497/655MHz 497/686MHz 360/497MHz 327/424MHz
TDP 35W 35W 35W 25W 17W
Package FS1r2 FS1r2 FS1r2 FP2 FP2
DDR3 Speeds DDR3-1600
DDR3L-1600
DDRU-1333
DDR3-1600
DDR3L-1600
DDRU-1333
DDR3-1600
DDR3L-1600
DDRU-1333
DDR3-1333
DDR3L-1333
DDRU-1066
DDR3-1333
DDR3L-1333
DDRU-1066

As a Bulldozer-derived architecture, Trinity uses CPU modules that each contain two Piledriver CPU cores with a shared FP/SSE (Floating Point) unit. From one perspective, that makes Trinity a quad-core or dual-core processor; others would argue that it’s not quite the same as a “true” quad-core setup. We’re not going to worry too much about the distinction here, though, as we’ll let the performance results tell that story. Compared to Llano’s K10-derived CPU core, clock speeds in Trinity are substantially higher—both the base and Turbo Core clocks. The top-end A10-4600M has a base clock that’s 53% higher than the 1.5GHz A8-3500M we reviewed when Llano launched, while maximum turbo speeds are up 33%. Unfortunately, while clock speeds might be substantially higher, Trinity’s Piledriver cores have substantially longer pipelines than Llano’s K10+ cores; we’ll see in the benchmarks what that means for typical performance.

The GPU side of the equation is are also substantially different from Llano. Llano used a Redwood GPU core (e.g. Radeon 5600 series) with a VLIW5 architecture (e.g. the Evergreen family of GPUs), and the various APUs had either 400, 320, or 240 Radeon cores. Trinity changes out the GPU core for a VLIW4 design (Northern Islands family of GPU cores), and this is the only time we’ve seen AMD use VLIW4 outside of the 6900 series desktop GPUs. The maximum number of Radeon cores is now 384, but we should see better efficiency out of the design, and clock speeds are substantially higher than on Llano—the mobile clocks are typically 55-60% higher. Again, how this plays out in terms of actual performance is something we’ll look at momentarily.

Looking at the complete lineup of Trinity APUs, it’s interesting to see AMD using a new A10 branding for the top models while overlapping the existing A8 and A6 brands on lower spec models. We only have the A10-4600M in for testing right now, but AMD provided some performance estimates for the various performance levels. The A10-4600M delivers 56% better graphics performance and 29% better “productivity” performance than the A8-3500M—note that we put productivity in quotes because it’s not clear if AMD is talking specifically about CPU performance or some other metric. The new A8-4500M delivers 32% faster graphics performance than the A8-3500M and 19% higher productivity, which appears to be why it gets the same “A8” classification. Finally, even the single-module/dual-core A6-4400M delivers 16% better graphics than the A8-3500M and 5% higher productivity. I suspect that the various percentages AMD lists are more of an “up to” statement as opposed to being typical performance improvements, as it seems unlikely that 192 VLIW4 cores at 686MHz could consistently outperform 400 VLIW5 cores at 444MHz.

If we consider target markets, the A10-4600M will be the fastest Trinity APU for now, and it should go into mainstream laptops that will provide a well rounded experience with the ability for moderate gaming along with any other tasks you might want to run. The A8-4500M takes a pretty major chunk out of the GPU (one third of the GPU cores are gone along with a slight drop in maximum clock speed) while maintaining roughly 80% of the CPU performance, so it can fit into slightly cheaper laptops but will likely drop gaming performance from “moderate” to “light”. The A6-4400M ends up as the extreme budget offering, with higher clocks on the CPU making up for the removal of two cores; the GPU likewise gets a slight trim relative to the A8-4500M, and we’re now down to half the graphics performance potential of the A10-4600M. All of the standard voltage parts support up to DDR3-1600 memory, with low voltage DDR3-1600 and ultra low voltage DDR3-1333 also supported.

The other two APUs are low voltage and ultra low voltage parts, which should work well in laptops like HP’s “sleekbooks”—basically, they’re for AMD-based alternatives to ultrabooks. The A10-4655M has about 87% of the CPU performance potential of the A10-4600M, with 70% of the GPU performance potential, and it can fit into a 25W TDP. The A6-4455M drops the TDP to 17W, matching Intel’s ULV parts, but again the CPU and GPU cores get cut. This time we get two Piledriver cores, 256 Radeon cores, and lowered base and maximum clock speeds. The low/ultra low voltage parts also drop support for DDR3-1600 memory, moving all RAM options down one step to DDR3-1333, low voltage DDR3-1333 and ultra low voltage DDR3-1066.

The final piece of the puzzle for any platform is the chipset. AMD is using their A70M (Hudson M3) chipset, which is the same chipset used for Llano. That’s not really a problem, though, as the chipset provides everything Trinity needs: it has support for up to six native SATA 6Gbps ports, four USB 3.0 ports (and 10 USB 2.0 ports), RAID 0/1 support, and basically everything else you need for a mainstream laptop. PCI Express support in Trinity remains at PCIe 2.0, but that’s not really a problem considering the target market. PCIe 3.0 has been shown to improve performance in some GPGPU workloads with HD 7970, but that’s a GPU that provides nearly an order of magnitude more compute power (over 7X more based on clock speeds and shader count alone).

That takes care of the overview of AMD’s Mobile Trinity lineup, and Anand has covered the architectural information, so now it’s time to meet our prototype AMD Trinity laptop.

Improved Turbo, Beefy Interconnects and the Trinity GPU Meet the AMD Trinity/Comal Prototype
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  • Wierdo - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I'll start recommending an integrated Intel GPU once I feel more confident about their driver support, which is more important than performance.

    At least now the IGP in Ivy Bridge is a decent solution for basic gaming needs, but they really need to work on their drivers, no more of that "driver update five years after product is obsolete" bs.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I agree, although even that seems to have improved somewhat; at least from the base standard of "what works to begin with". Here's hoping for further progress. Reply
  • medi01 - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    Except there is one thing which isn't visible on charts: quality. Check how horrible Intel's AF is on toms Trinity review. Reply
  • fumigator - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    "AMD still has better drivers than Intel, but it's more like 20% better "

    Unluckly I had an Ivy Bridge HD4000 notebook sitting for a week, and out of 29 games, only 60% were barely playable (performance), 15% crashed, and the rest run with strange artifacts but stable enough though.

    While I don't worry alot about gaming in a laptop, the true fact is that intel is way behind AMD in this, and we are not talking about 3D render quality. Oh my, you have to take a look at that and you won't doubt it a second. AMD and Nvidia renders are better.

    While I still hoped more from trinity, not sure to make a judgement until I grab one and put a decent super fast ram module on it and go testing.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Could you please provide a list of the games that were unplayable and those that crashed? I'd love to be able to confirm problems. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    The gpu is "several orders of magnitude" better than intel's best? You do realize that an order of magnitude is 10x right? So how many orders of magnitude better 2, 3, 4 (100x, 1000x, 10000x). Overstate much?

    In fact trinity is on average what, 20-30% better than HD4000? Hardly one order of magnitude much less multiple orders of magnitude.

    Overall the chip is OK, but I was actually hoping for more improvement on the GPU side. Yes, it is improved, but not enough to really make a game go from unplayable to playable.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Most laptops from that time did not use Intel's IGP on the chipset. Most had AMD or nVidia dGPU's. And these new Trinity APU's probably compete pretty closely to that. Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Core 2 Duo came out in 2006 not 2004.
    Intel doesn't sell Core 2 Duo laptops anymore in mainstream segments. They sell IVB laptops.

    Are you implying that C2D user will want to upgrade to Trinity?

    Most users would be far better off getting an Intel laptop with low end Kepler GPU such as GT640 than this.
    Reply
  • Lugaidster - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Assuming equal pricing sure. But there's no way an IVB with a low end Kepler will be near a trinity laptop in terms of pricing. Most likely it will be a few hundred dollars more, which depending on the target, can make a difference.

    Sure you can recommend that, but not everyone will see that as worth the extra couple of hundred dollars. Considering that aside from CPU performance, a trinity notebook is roughly equal to an IVB one, with price in their favour, they can sell lots of these.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I expect we'll see dual-core IVB with Kepler going for around $800-$850 at the low end of the scale. I also expect we'll see a lot of the early Trinity laptops with A10-4600M selling for closer to $700. Hopefully I'm wrong on the Trinity side, but they did the same thing with Llano. "It's new! Charge more for it!" Not AMD's fault at all, obviously, but still irritating. Reply

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