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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  • Stas - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I agree with xd_1771. A mid-range CPU from 2 years ago is plenty for any CPU requirements an average user might have (Office, browser, IM, pr0n). The one thing that's been limiting laptops for generations is the GPU. AMD has brought serious graphics to laptop. Not only do you benefit through improvements in gaming and 3D software, with almost every resource intensive application becoming GPU-accelerated, you get better performance all-around. Reply
  • zephxiii - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I am using this old Thinkpad T60 with C2D 1.66ghz built in 4/2007 and it is plenty fast enough for regular use lol. The only thing that really sucks about it is the spinning HD in it.

    I use a T61p at home with C2D 2.2ghz and Quadro something HD with SSD and that thing does everything I need it to (Photoshop, lightroom, Internet, flash video etc.).

    Both running Windows 7.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Nope, I promise that C2D 1.66Ghz lags for Flash enhanced./Java Runtime environments. Especially multitasking.

    Please, quit defining regular use with acceptance of slow. Drop even Core 2 Quad 9550 in that home PC, and I promise you would not go back.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I have a ThinkPad R61 with PDC (Bottom end Core2 with missing cache) at 1.6Ghz. I bought for $550 off the shelf new when VISTA was about 8 months old. It came with XP-Pro, 1GB RAM and more importantly, a matte screen. I use it almost every day and since then I've added 1GB and Windows7 and it runs better than it ever did when it was new.

    Its slow compared to more C2Q Q6600, but the R61 does what I need for a mobile system. I sure don't like using Photoshop on it. But its mostly for browsing, Office apps and xfer of data/work.

    It still faster than ANY Pentium4 class CPU.

    I have an urge to go IvyBridge this year... but my Q6600 doesn't really keep me waiting much (other than video encoding) with 4GB / Win7. Nope, going on vacation this summer out-weighs a new computer. :)
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Stop telling everyone what CPU is GOOD enough. There truly is software out there that my Core 2 Duo at work lags behind. My Core i7 system at home is remarkable smoother and more responsive. Neither with an SSD. Reply
  • tfranzese - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    For a user who can't stand to wait, you've got your priorities screwed up if you're not using an SSD on those system. Reply
  • evolucion8 - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    I wonder which kind of sofware tuns too slow on a C2D. I have a i7 2600K at 4.5GHz, much faster on WinRaR, media encoding, gaming etc. But running everyday tasks like web browsing, office, media playback etc, doesn't feel much different from my Core 2 T9300 and my i7 machine. My laptop does have very good encoding power which is very tolerable, but definitively my i7 destroys it, but considering that my C2D has a 35W TDP I don't loosing some performance for the sake of lower heat dissipation and battery consumption. Reply
  • vegemeister - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    We were just getting to the point where a CPU could be good for 6-8 years, but then the web developers started making applications and desktop environments. Not to mention the horrors of flash and Java. What Intel giveth, web 2.0 taketh away. Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, May 17, 2012 - link

    Bullshit.

    Most of the web 2.0 is nowadays "also gotta run on tablets" and no way inhell it's "java based", or "flash based" or CPU intensive.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    You people are a little crazy coming up with exotic applications that stress CPUs. It's much simpler than that.

    I'm running a Q2720m with Intel SSD and fiber optic internet, and I notice immediately if I turn turboboost off while browsing standard webpages with Chrome + Adblock. My browsing is noticeably CPU limited, especially in cases where I'm clicking through dozens of large webpages to find a specific page I'm looking at (such as browsing backwards through poorly designed blogs).

    I would detest running something with the single-threaded speed of AMD's latest offerings. Of course, that's why I'm not in that target market.
    Reply

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