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Although AMD's second-generation mainstream APU platform, codename Trinity, launched months ago in notebooks the official desktop launch is today. Rumor has it that AMD purposefully delayed the desktop Trinity launch to clear out unsold Llano inventories in the channel. Although selling APUs in notebooks is pretty easy, convincing desktop users to forgo the discrete GPU option (and ignore Intel) has been a tough battle for AMD. I keep going back to two slides that show us where AMD wants to go and the cores it'll take to get there:

The ultimate goal is this beautiful cohesive operation between CPU and GPU on a single die. That future will require a lot of software support, not only at the application level but also at the OS level. And I'm not talking about Windows 8. We're still far away from this APU dominated future, but AMD is marching in that direction. The second slide shows the x86 cores that we'll see from AMD along the way. AMD is still playing catch-up in the x86 CPU space and it's got a lot of lost time to make up for. There's no hiding the fact this is going to be a multi-year effort to simply get close to Intel's single-threaded x86 performance. Through pricing, leveraging its GPU technology and throwing more transistors at the problem AMD can still deliver competitive solutions, but it's not going to be a walk in the park.

Last week we took a look at the GPU side of the desktop Trinity APUs. We looked at the top end 384-core Radeon HD 7660D configuration as well as the slightly slower 256-core Radeon HD 7560D GPU, both of which easily outperformed Intel's HD 4000 and HD 2500. As far as processor graphics go, Trinity on the desktop maintains a healthy lead over Intel. There's still a place for discrete GPUs but that's pretty much at the $100 and above price points.

Today we're able to talk about pricing and x86 CPU performance among other things. The good news on that front is the most expensive Trinity APU is fully unlocked and is priced at $122:

AMD Socket-FM2 Lineup
  Modules/Cores CPU Clock Base/Turbo L2 Cache GPU TDP Price
A10-5800K 2 / 4 3.8 / 4.2 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 800MHz 100W $122
A10-5700 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 760MHz 65W $122
A8-5600K 2 / 4 3.6 / 3.9 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 100W $101
A8-5500 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 65W $101
A6-5400K 1 / 2 3.6 / 3.8 GHz 1MB 192 cores @ 760MHz 65W $67
A4-5300 1 / 2 3.4 / 3.6 GHz 1MB 128 cores @ 724MHz 65W $53
Athlon X4 750K 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB N/A 100W $81
Athlon X4 740 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB N/A 65W $71

Compare this to Llano's launch where the top end SKU launched at $135 and you'll see that AMD is somewhat getting with the times. I would still like to see something closer to $100 for the A10-5800K, but I find that I'm usually asking for a better deal than what most CPU makers are willing to give me.

AMD's competitive target is Intel's newly released Ivy Bridge Core i3 processors. There are only five Core i3s on the market today, four of which use Intel's HD 2500 graphics. The cheapest of the lineup is the Core i3 3220 with two cores running at 3.3GHz for $125. Intel disables turbo and other features (there's effectively no overclocking on these parts), which AMD is attempting to exploit by pitting its Trinity K-series SKUs (fully unlocked) against them. AMD's TDPs are noticeably higher (100W for the higher end K-series parts compared to 55W for the Core i3s). Intel will easily maintain the power advantage as a result under both CPU and GPU load, although AMD's GPU does deliver more performance per watt. Power consumption is a major concern of AMD's at this point. Without a new process node to move to for a while, AMD is hoping to rely on some design tricks to improve things in the future.

At the low end of the stack there are also two Athlon X4s without any active GPU if you just want a traditional Trinity CPU.

The Test

This will be our last CPU/APU review on the current test platform/software configuration. The next major CPU review will see a move to a brand new testbed running Windows 8. As always you can get access to far more numbers than what we report here if you use our performance comparison engine: Bench. Of course if you want to see the GPU and GPU Compute performance of AMD's Trinity APU check out part one of our coverage.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V Pro (Intel Z68)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 (AMD A85X)
Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Memory: 2 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
AMD Processor Graphics
Intel Processor Graphics
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 12.8
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64

 

Trinity CPU Performance: The Good and the Bad
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  • Spunjji - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Ignoring all troll comments that followed this post... Reply
  • C1377 - Friday, July 05, 2013 - link

    Just purchased the a10-5800k with a Motherboard for a net cost of $140. Can't beat that price... The Over/Under clock ability is the ace in the hole, as is power consumption when gaming (compared to a discrete graphics solution). For those of us who don't need to game at higher resolutions than 1080p, this setup is great.

    Beyond that All I need in performance is the ability to encode DVD's faster than my DVD burner, and handle file compression... most of us do work on pc's purchased by our company, and at home we do things like photoshop and DVD authoring. Sometimes I think you guys get so engrossed in the technicalities, that you forget the real world scenarios. How much time am I going to save by the "huge phenominal difference" of 77-70 fps on a DVD encode? I am still going to spend 15-20 minutes burning the DVD, so is a processor which costs an extra $50 worth the shaving down my DVD creation time from 45 min to 42.06783 min? Is this really a "huge phenominal difference" ...only on benchmarks--not in the real world.
    Reply
  • gamoniac - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Anyone who still has not switched to Intel and has AMD's previous high-end chips (eg Phenom II x6) most likely has a high-end graphic card as well, so it makes little sense to switch to a Trinity APU unless one is building a new system or HTPC. I think this fact is hurting AMD, too.

    Besides that, with AMD having to pitch their top Trinity APU against Intel's i3 chips, I think it is time for AMD to stop any artificial market segmentation on their side. Instead, just make as many high-end APU they can for each TDP bracket and sell them at lower prices. The economies of scale might help bring A10-5800K down to $100, then they would stand a chance against Intel until Excavator cores are out in a couple of years. I don't know... Just a thought. It's painful to see how far the single-thread performance is at this point and Haswell is not even out yet.
    Reply
  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Agreed!. AMD should be selling many variants of this APU at different prices. In fact, since Trinity is so highly clocked, it makes the Llano look better, I am gunning for a A8-3870 llano which is just a tab slower than A10-5800 but if Llano can be clocked to 3.3Ghz or 3.5Ghz then it would be a real cracker for the price yet it idles at just as low power consumption. To me, AMD has not made progress since Trinity is highly clocked compared to Llano. If a Llano hits 3.8Ghz, it would blow away the top-end A10 chip which is an embarrassment. We need to compare frequency as well to make clock-for-clock improvements (if any, I can see very few). So, this is why Trinity was artificially delayed to get the Llano parts moving. I can see these Llano parts moving quicker now that the benches are out for all to see. Reply
  • Medallish - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I don't get your logic, Llano will sell better now that Trinity is out and it's better? No one really cares about clock for clock, there are three major factors here, Price, power, and performance.
    A10-5800K comes at around the same price and performs better than Llano A8-3870 in pretty much every way.
    A10.-5800K uses on average less power than A8-3870, while delivering better performance.

    If I buy an APU it's usually based on two factors, CPU and GPU performance, on both of these it's better than Llano while staying within price and power of the previous Llano flagship.

    Let me put it in another way, if Haswell turns out to run 4GHz to achieve same speed as a 3GHz Ivy Bridge, but it cost the same, and used 20% less power, would you care at all?

    My Desktop is still running Phenom II, I plan on upgrading to Vishera once it's released, no one expected Trinity to be an upgrade for exsisting Enthusiasts using AMD systems, unless they're running something even older and just want something average. Where I plan on using Trinity is in an HTPC. If Iwanted a workstation I think Trinity would make a lot of sense, it sort of makes it all around in terms of work space tasks. For my gaming PC obviously I would stick with a higher end Desktop configuration, but that's not to say that Trinity can't work, we did see gaming reviews last week using a dedicated 7870 and still keep up once the graphics details were pushed.
    Reply
  • mikato - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    "...unless one is building a new system..."

    Uh, isn't this 90%+ or something of CPU purchases? Actually building a new system (for my parents) and maybe an new HTPC (for me) is exactly why I'm interested.
    Reply
  • Paulman - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I just realized that an emerging use case for gamers is live-streaming (or even Fraps'ing) themselves while they play. I'd imagine that's a use case that makes more use of multiple cores, since most games these days only really stress two or so cores?

    What do you think about eventually introducing a live streaming / video encoding benchmark to represent that use case? (I'm most familiar with Xsplit, as that's what most of the gamers and broadcasters I watch [on Twitch.tv] use)
    Reply
  • elhoboloco - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    You should try FFSplit. It's so much easier! Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    It's worth noting that the moment someone introduces a live streamer with support for Intel's QuickSync and AMD's VCE video encoders, such a benchmark would be made redundant. Those fixed function encoders are designed in large part around real time encoding and completely offload the process, so bogging down the CPU to do real time encoding has effectively been rendered obsolete. Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    That seems to be a big if rather than a matter of when, though, given the patchy support that's been forthcoming for QuickSync so far! So possibly a valid avenue of investigation anyway. :) Reply

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