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


View All Comments

  • meloz - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I can only assume that the bold "Idiotic assessment" declaration was to describe the diarrhea that followed in the rest of your reply, because nothing about that made any sense or correlates with reality.

    Today we learnt: AMD "dominate" and outsell nvidia, although no one is quiet sure what this fantastic fiction has to do with the discussion about CPUs.

    Today we learnt: Intel are somehow being shady with their OEM customers to sell more CPUs. And yet, these OEM customers prefer to deal with 'shady Intel' -and Intel continue to make record profits- inspite of the "fact" that AMD offers more performance / $.

    Those OEMs be crazy. The consumers be crazy. Erryone crazy, but pure and noble AMD.

    In your desperation to find anything positive about AMD -and all things negative about Intel and nvidia- you come across sounding like Comical Ali.
  • owlxp - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I'm not trying to bash either company here. Facts are facts. Intel has more compute power and AMD is better on the GPU side of things. I'd just rather see something that pushes the limits of Trinity's benefits and see how it stacks up (dollar to dollar) to what something intel can offer. To not post the max allowable gpu for a hybrid crossfire set up seems like huge oversight to me. Strapping on high end discrete cards to each processor is a pretty useless test, IMO. It's no secret that intel has been stomping AMD in sales......I never argued that. That doesn't mean that the market can't shift. The average computer user might be ok with "good enough computing/entry to mid level gaming." It seems like that is what AMD is gambling on. If the number of power users decline and the the low end market grows, AMD stands to do very well. All speculation of course, but, it appears that this is AMD's strategy. The fact that it wasn't the right approach for the past few years is irrelevant. Trinity now gives AMD something intel cannot match (dollar for dollar) It's now in the hands of the consumers. Reply
  • Byte - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Me and a lot of buddies still have first gen i7s and such, how does Trinity compare to to them. Any sites do a lot of benchmarks with older processors for comparison? Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    There is i7 860 in the benchmarks, and yes a 2009 CPU still has about the same power as a modern mainstream desktop processor. In that way it has stagnated, but at least AMD tries to do architectural improvement every year now. Let's see how that goes, but they need to bring in some talent. K8 was around for more then four years without any real architectural changes. K10 was around for about 4 years too. It's also a good thing that you don't need to buy a new rig just for the performance every few years now. A three year old cpu still has about the same power as mainstream today, so as far as say gaming goes it's mostly about the GPU. All that has been introduced since 2009 is basically SATA 3/ 6gbps, PCI-e 3.0, USB 3.0 two of which you could add to a system with an add-in board. We are still on DDR3. It will take some time before we see any major increases. Most has come in the mobile/notebook form factor. AMD get's GCN integrated graphics next. That will have to wait for Kabini/Temash though, and HSA has to wait for Steamroller/Excavator. It think they set the bar a little low with 10-15% performance increases each year though, that might be fine but they also need to leap to something truly new with performance before that is a satisfactory gradual increase. Reply
  • abianand - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    how about some gaming tests at 1920x and 1440x?

    after all, there are a lot of ppl playing at these resolutions - including me at 1920x.
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    With a discrete GPU, at 1920 x 1080 you'll generally be limited by the discrete GPU. There are exceptions depending on what game/video card is used but there wouldn't be much to gain by testing this.

    Testing at 1920 x 1080 using the integrated graphics with modern games would be painful. It doesn't matter if the integrated graphics were from Intel or AMD, you'd get a slide show due to the lack of memory bandwidth on these parts. The only hope for integrated graphics to pick up performance would be using eDRAM to side step the bandwidth issue a bit.
  • abianand - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    you're right...playing at 1920x with any IGP leads to non-smooth gameplay in a few games.

    However, if someone needs the 4 integer cores and is also looking at the A8 and A10 chips as possible cheap/value gaming chips - they are just $130 - perhaps they need to know how it performs at that resolution.

    About the 1440x and the 16xx resolutions, I am from India and here many still use the 'lower' resolutions.

    I am just saying that that extra information would (have) be useful, is all.
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    If you are a cheap gamer adding a discrete get the Athlon x4 750k which is the trinity cpu sans the integrated graphic and is to have an expected price of $81. It also has an unlocked multipler.

    Use the $40 dollar savings to get a bigger graphics or a larger size ssd.
  • abianand - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    yes, that's a good suggestion ! Reply
  • ditroia - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Hi Does anyone know what the highest end Radeon GPU I can use to Crossfire with the 7 Series GPU on the APU?

    Thanks in Advance


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