Fusion GPUs: A Long-Awaited Upgrade to IGPs Everywhere

During our conversations with AMD, at one point they mentioned that they prefer not to use the term “IGP” anymore since they consider it a derogatory term. I asked what we should call Llano’s graphics and they said AMD officially refers to it as the “Fusion GPU” (fGPU), so that's what we'll use going forward. Regardless of what we call it, though, there’s no doubt that the 6620G fGPU is a dramatic upgrade to the old HD 4250; in fact, the 6620G should also boast significantly better performance than Intel’s HD 3000…provided the CPU core doesn’t become a bottleneck. Let’s start with 3DMark comparisons to see just where Llano falls. Again, we have the 6620G and 6630M Llano setups tested, but now we’re adding CrossFire to the mix.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

Futuremark 3DMark03

I’m including all of the 3DMark iterations to provide a broad view of graphics potential. The latest 3DMark11 release seems to be almost purely GPU-limited, but of course it requires DX11 support and thus many of the other laptops (including Intel’s IGP) fail to run it. 3DMark Vantage’s Performance defaults are about as demanding, and Llano comes out 40-50% ahead of Sandy Bridge’s HD 3000. Of course, Arrandale completely falls on its face in the Performance test, generating a result of just 161, but AMD’s old HD 4250 is only marginally better with a score of 238. Remove some of the demands with the Vantage Entry-Level preset and Sandy Bridge starts to close the gap, with the quad-core 2820QM actually coming out ahead of Llano. Things that make you go hmm….

Things don’t get any better when we look at Asymmetrical CrossFire (ACF) from Llano. 3DMark11 comes in a whopping 50% faster than the 6630M dGPU, or 78% faster than the fGPU. If that performance boost showed up in our games, things would be great, but unfortunately it doesn’t. AMD informed us just yesterday that only DX10 or DX11 games and applications will even work with ACF, so perhaps that explains why we see little to no benefit in 3DMark03/05/06. The Vantage Performance preset shows a respectable 38% increase vs. the dGPU and 68% over the fGPU, but on Entry-Level it’s only 11-14% faster, and in 3DMark03 the dGPU actually scored lower than the fGPU.

If we were to stop our analysis of graphics performance right now, I suspect there would be a lot of confusion. Llano’s fGPU is anywhere from being equal to HD 3000 to 50% faster; Asymmetrical CrossFire is either a boon or a bust. So which is it? This is why we only place a minor emphasis on 3DMarks; let’s get to some actual gaming benchmarks.

Applications, Round Two: Treading Water Fusion GPU Takes on Gaming
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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Just looking at transistor count misses most of the story. The highly repetitive layout in the GPU allows for much denser transistor layout, the die is only 5% larger. That's close enough that factors like yield and raw per wafer cost become at least as important. Reply
  • Lunyone - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Looks like we're finally getting close to having integrated graphics good enough for some good light gaming :) Hopefully these won't be priced to high to sell. There are sooo many Sandy Bridge based laptops out there that are within the $500-600 price range it isn't even funny. I hope we can get the top of the line Llano for about $600-650. I think the C50 or E-350 have been relegated down to tablet only now, since Llano is where it's at now. Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Brazos will likely keep its place at the lower price point and smaller size laptops. It would be interesting to see if the larger E-350 laptops will be replaced by Llano or will survive. I was surprised they were even introduced, but it's possible that if people are buying them they will continue to do so.

    Still, I'm hoping that Llano can make it into small form factor laptops.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I am definitely ready to buy a Llano powered laptop. I suspect Llano will suit the needs of the largest notebook segment and deliver better graphics at a lower price point. AMD is bound to take notebook market share from Intel. I wouldn't ever consider an Intel product. Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    What? The largest notebook segment doesn't care about GPUs in a laptop. Look at Apple - a non-gaming platform more or less - and quarter after quarter has the highest growth in the notebook market share. The fact that Intel HD graphics command #1 market share in the mobile and desktop space also shows that the the majority of consumers don't care about mobile graphics beyond watching HD content.

    So with Llano you get a GPU that's still only fast enough for 1368x768 resolution gaming at the lowest settings and CPU performance that's only as fast as a Q6700 from 2007. Llano only makes sense if you are on a budget to buy a laptop. If you care about CPU performance, it's too slow. If you care about GPU performance, it's again too slow. So the only customer it will find is a niche one until they can create an APU with Bulldozer cores inside and a much faster GPU.

    We have also seen a significant surge in consumers that desire premium made notebooks. Llano designs will likely be relegated to cheap looking and cheap quality laptops. Certainly it wont be able to compete with Ultrabooks.

    I am almost certain that most of today's consumers will care about screen resolution, an SSD, the quality of the screen/materials build quality of the laptop before even thinking about the fact that Llano's GPU is faster than Intel's. Then there is AMD's past history of having unimpressive mobile CPUs over the last 5+ years. It's going to take 2-3 generations before consumers even think about switching brands in such a scenario. Most people will just buy an Intel based SB notebook simply because Intel has made the best mobile processor for the last "forever".

    This is a good step for AMD, but they have a long road ahead.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    The share count is no longer relevant since an IGP is deployed anyhow with each system, while there are many delivered with discrete it still counts as an IGP also.

    Have a look at your so called apple highest growth market... it ships with discrete ATI graphics.....

    Actually most don't know that the IGP is crappy, they are fooled by adiot sales and large electronic vendors who try to push there margins.

    THis is the introduction generation that will shed some light, just look at the brazos also, it has been a success and even atom refresh wil not be able to take this back.
    Reply
  • nickb64 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    arguably the most popular Apple laptop, the 13" Pro, now ships with Intel Integrated graphics, not discrete ATI/AMD graphics

    Overall, you're right, but I just wanted to point out that Intel is probably getting a pretty solid boost out of 13" MBP sales this year.
    Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    lol that's quite something to give Apple as an example for what the average user needs.Macs are niche products and will remain so without fundamental strategy changes.

    ps:how outraged would you be if tomorrow the new Air shows up with a Llano in it?
    pps:today's average consumer makes a few hundreds $ per month and is not looking for high resolution (not that he knows wtf resolution is anyway) or SSD.
    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Intel wouldn't ship Air with Llano, not until they can deliver Bulldozer cores. Why would they ship a laptop with 50% slower CPU speed and go backwards? Not to mention, they'd lose Thunderbolt if they ditched SB. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Thunderbolt is PCIe. Reply

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