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

  • Beenthere - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Sorry but your beliefs on laptop vs. desktop usage is incorrect. While a lot of young people, sales people etc. use laptops, the split is almost 50/50 according to a recent survey, meaning that ~50% of PC users still use desktops.

    That being said, Trinity laptop is by far the best choice for mainstream consumers who prefer a laptop over a desktop.

    Either way it's a win for AMD and consumers on the desktop or for a laptop. Servers will be next as the AMD APUs have shown excellent results for servers even though they were never intended for same.
  • silverblue - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    No, but Trinity sports a CPU architecture slanted towards servers. It's not such a strange idea in the end. Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Could it simply be the priorities of the target customers that so greatly affect how Intel approaches the markets and SKU's??

    It seems like it would be very easy to grow the die and throw 24-32 EU's on the iGPU side of things. However, what portion of their vast corporate PC market really wants or could use that?? Application developers, end users, small business PCs, etc, etc do not benefit from extra gaming performance or video/encryption performance. Seems to me the market for fast video encoding, high FPS gaming is not this market. Those people buy horsepower. And then, power usage, cost is less important.. This group buys small footprint, low power consumption, and mass quantity..

    I think the times for the consumer retail PC space driving revenues are over. And Intel knows this. Retail markets are cheap, cheap laptops, tablets and smart phones..

    They cannot completely ignore it, but no one in that space buys "specs". Open Best Buy ad, go buy cheapest PC/laptop/tablet, have a nice day.

    AMD is not going to win over corporate markets with high power consumption, better 3D performance APU's... Just like they aren't going to win retail with more features/better specs..
  • mattlach - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    With IGP's like this, it won't be long before Nvidia is in real trouble.

    Their high end parts will still sell, but their volume shipments that keep the lights on are in the budget parts, and with better and better IGP's no one is going to need them anymore.

    I don't even know what kind of solution Nvidia may come up with for this. They can't design their own desktop/laptop CPU component (or at least this is highly unlikely). It also seems unlikely that they'd get bought up by Intel at this point.

    So what is left for them?

    Maybe a deal with Cyrix/Via/Centaur (or whatever they are called this week) or ARM or some other minor player?

    Exit the desktop GPU market all together and focus on their Tegra/ARM designs?

    I can think of a few ways this will go, and none of them are particularly good for the desktop video card market.
  • jwcalla - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Hence why they got into the mobile market. NVIDIA had the foresight to see the changes in the market and got in on the ground floor. And while Tegra isn't exactly the best SoC out there, it's won some tablet orders and NVIDIA can always improve it as they go along.

    At least they're in the game.

    Their discrete GPUs will continue to have a presence in the HPC market, and with NVIDIA slapping an ARM co-processor on their GPUs (~2013-'14), I think they'll be even more competitive in that market in the future. And it also allows them to offer an attractive option for any potential console system down the line, or even HTPC devices.

    So I think their discrete video card business has to continue to be nurtured even if they lose a bit on the desktop side.
  • mattlach - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I agree.

    I don't think Nvidia will be in trouble of going out of business, but they may be forced out of the desktop GPU market.

    Currently, they are able to spread the cost of R&D on a new architecture over low, medium and high end parts. (the chips are not always the same, but the base architecture, where most of the development work goes, is)

    If the low end volume parts go away, it becomes tough to see how they continue to maintain profitability on the high end GPU's.

    They will always have their mobile market, and it is a good market to be in, but I'm concerned we might be left with only one player in the high end GPU market.
  • mattlach - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I'd be interested in building an HTPC around this platform, but I'd want a low power part.

    It's a little disappointing that there is no sub 65W part.

    A desktop version of a mobile trinity part would be perfect for this.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    That was my thought as well. Intel have an i7-3770T, over priced, way over-powered for an HTPC (and yes I bought one!) but TDP of 45W.

    AMD need a A10 class chip with a TDP of 35W or less. The move down to 22nm fab cannot come fast enough
  • jwcalla - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    It really depends on the intended usage of the HTPC. I'm not sure what the deal is with Hulu and Netflix (i.e., if they're CPU bound), but if your usage pattern mostly centers around hardware video decoding, then most of these chips are going to be well overdone.

    A simple Zotac Zbox w/ Celeron + NVIDIA ION is going to be more than enough (as long as you don't have Hi10p content), and for video decode VDPAU is far more mature than anything I've seen from Intel / AMD at this point.

    And within 6 months I'd be looking into ARM-based solutions which should be even cheaper, smaller, quieter and cheaper to upgrade (e.g., when H.265 comes out). (Unless one insists on using non-ARM ported software, like maybe WMC.)
  • Hubb1e - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Atom falls down with Netflix and idles around the same point as these chips. Reply

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