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Trinity CPU Performance: The Good and the Bad

We're going to start our performance investigation a little out of order. The big question on everyone's mind is how much single threaded performance has improved over Bulldozer, and whether it's enough to actually make Trinity faster than Llano across the board. We'll use Cinebench 11.5 as it has both single and multithreaded test options:

Cinebench 11.5 - Single Threaded

The good news is that single threaded performance is definitely up compared to Llano. Piledriver likely has some to do with this, but so does the fact that the A10 can run at up to 4.2GHz (~4GHz typically) with one of its cores active compared to the 2.9GHz clock speed of the A8-3850. Compared to the Bulldozer based FX-8150 there's a slight (~6%) increase in single threaded performance. Although I don't expect anyone will be cross shopping a Trinity APU and a FX CPU, it's important to keep an eye on progress here as we'll eventually get a high-end quad-module/eight-core Piledriver CPU.

Note that compared to even previous generation, low-end Intel CPUs without turbo there's a huge gap in single threaded performance. If we look at the gap AMD has to make up vs. Ivy Bridge it's not pretty. Intel's Core i3 3220 manages a 27% performance advantage over the A10-5800K. Even if Steamroller is able to deliver a 15% increase in performance at the same clock speed, there will still be a gap. And we're not even talking about how Haswell will grow this gap. For the foreseeable future I don't see AMD closing the single threaded performance gap. Jim Keller's job is to fix this problem, but it'll probably take 2 - 3 years to get there.

Cinebench 11.5 - Multi-Threaded

The multithreaded test shows the other end of reality: in heavily threaded foating point workloads it's possible that we'll see a regression compared to Llano. Remember the Bulldozer/Piledriver architecture prioritizes integer over floating point performance. Truth be told this regression is pretty rare in our tests, but until we get to Steamroller we will still see these types of situations.

Throw more threads at the problem and even with a floating point workload Intel can't pull ahead however. The A10 offers similar performance to the Core i3 3220 at a lower price. Your decision here would come down to the rest of the factors: single threaded performance, processor graphics performance, overclocking capabilities and power consumption. Intel and AMD both win two of those each, it's really a matter of what matters most to you.

A heavily threaded FP workload doesn't really play to AMD's advantages though, what happens when you get a heavily threaded integer workload however? The 7-zip benchmark gives us just that:

7-zip Benchmark

Here AMD manages a 16% performance advantage over the Core i3 3220. I'd even go as far as to say that Trinity would likely beat any dual-core Intel machine here. The performance advantage is somewhat artificial as Intel purposefully removes turbo from its dual-core desktop CPUs. This should be AMD's best foot forward, but once again it'll likely take Steamroller for this design to start to make sense.

Speaking of artificial product segmentation, one major feature Intel takes away when you get down to the dual-core desktop i3 level is AES-NI support. Hardware accelerated AES support is something that you get only with the more expensive Core i5/i7s. With Trinity, you get AES-NI support for the entire stack. The result is much better performance in those applications that depend on it:

AES-128 Performance - TrueCrypt 7.1 Benchmark

Like most of the advantages we've talked about thus far, there are really very specific use cases where Trinity makes sense over a similarly priced Intel CPU.

Introduction & The Test General Performance - SYSMark 2012
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  • eBombzor - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Am I missing something in the benchmarks? Tom's did a CPU comparison with the 2100 and the 8120 (which isn't a whole lot different from the 8150) and the 8120 is near the Phenom CPU gaming wise.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pent...
    Something is not right here, the 2100 dominated the 8120 in Tom's benchies, the 3220 should be better.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Just thumbing through Tom's article, it looks like they're using 1920x1080 with high quality settings (GPU-limited settings) while we're mostly using 1024 and 1680 in order to ensure we're CPU-limited. Reply
  • Rezurecta - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Who cares about CPU limiting? You're not going to play a game @ 1024. 1680 might be valid, but why not show benchmarks at 1920? It just doesn't make sense to show a benchmark that isn't at a major demographic point.

    It could be a very misleading benchmark for a substantial amount of readers.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    But it makes amd look better, so it's awesome, and irresistible. Reply
  • Rand - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Why was the overclocking test done on Windows 8 (Image shows Win8), while the performance testing was done on Windows 7 (Test setup lists Win7)? Reply
  • nofumble62 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    This Trinity performance didn't beat i3, let alone i5.

    AMD statement " i5 performance at i3 price" is a total lie.
    Reply
  • ac2 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    It's only true for heavily threaded integer work and AES...

    But yeah, disappointing...
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    ... and gaming on the integrated GPU Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Legit reviews state that AMD advised them to disable turbo mode else it will throttle the overclock. They were able to overclock it to 4.6 with full stability using a larger cooler.

    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/2047/18/
    Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    with Corsair H100 water cooler they were able to overclock it to 5GHz stable. Reply

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