Roundup: Good enough, but not a game changer
AMD has finally and officially lifted an NDA veil off its mobile Trinity A-series APU lineup based on the 2nd-gen Bulldozer CPU core, aka Piledriver, and VLIW4 Northern Islands GPU squeezed together on a 32nm SOI die.
Architecture-wise, AMD's Trinity combines two to four Piledriver x86 cores combined with up to 384 VLIW4 Radeon cores on a 32nm die which ends up as a 246mm2 chip with 1.303B transistors, slightly more than Llano's 228mm2/1.178B. Since it is made in the same 32nm manufacturing process as Llano, the greatest win for Trinity are actual CPU and GPU performance improvements as well as impressive power consumption improvements when compared to Llano APUs.
Same as the FX-series desktop parts based on the Bulldozer architecture, AMD's Trinity CPU part has a 2+1 integer/floating point design where you get two integer cores that share a single floating point scheduler. Although it appears to the OS as two cores, each Piledriver module actually has less resources than traditional core design. But with Piledriver, those Bulldozer kinks got ironed out as much as possible, improving IPC (instruction per cycle), reducing leakage, reducing CAC and giving it a slight frequency uplift.
AMD also threw in its Turbo Core Technology 3.0, which now has an ability to provide much aggressive auto overclocking with up to 20 percent GPU overclock, 19 percent single-threaded CPU and up to 8 percent in multi-threaded CPU performance.
On the memory side, Trinity features two 64-bit DDR3 memory controllers with support for up to DDR3-1866 memory.
As far as the GPU is concerned, we are looking at quite familiar Northern Islands VLIW4 part, a same one that was behind Cayman Radeon HD 6970 graphics card. Of course, the GPU has been cut down to up to 384 stream processors (organized in 6 SIMDs) with 24 texture units and 8 ROPs. The clocks have also gone down to 497MHz base clock that can "turbo" up to 686MHz.
According to various reviews around the net, Trinity might suffer from the same problem as FX-Series chips, unfounded overhyping where everyone expected an APU that can blow away the competition, including a mobile platform with discrete GPU, in every single aspect of the game - performance, power consumption/battery life and price. Sadly this is not the case. Few products can ever live up to the pre-launch hype, and Trinity is no exception, but it is a very good chip indeed.
AMD is currently only launching mobile Trinity chips, aka Comal, while desktop Virgo chips are currently scheduled to show up in Q3 2012. The full lineup includes a total of five different SKUs spread into two different packages and across A10-, A8-, A6- and A4-series. When compared to Llano lineup, the TDP went down from 35W/45W parts to 35W, 25 and 17W on the Trinity.
The top part is the A10-4600M with four Piledriver CPU cores working at 2.3GHz base and 3.2GHz turbo clocks and feature 4MB of L2 cache, Radeon HD 7660G graphics part with 384 stream processors and 497/686MHz clocks. With the same FS1r2 package, AMD included two more APUs, A8-4500M and the A6-4400M. The A8-4500M packs same four Piledriver cores that work at 1.9GHz base and 2.8GHz turbo but feature a slightly cut down HD 7640G GPU part that packs 256 stream processors and works at 497/655MHz. The A6-4400M features two Piledriver cores, has 1MB of L2 cache, works at 2.7/3.2GHz clocks and features Radeon HD 7520G graphics part with 192 stream processors and 496/686MHz clocks. This entire lineup feature 35W TDP.
The LV and ULV Trinity lineup that will use FP2 package feature two SKUs, the A10-4655M and the A6-4455M. The A10-4665M has a 25W TDP, works at 2.0GHz base and 2.8GHz turbo clocks, has Radeon HD 7620G part with 384 stream processors that works at 360/497MHz clocks. The A6-4455M has a lowest 17W TDP, packs two Piledriver cores with 2MB of L2 cache, works at 2.1GHz base and 2.6GHz turbo clock and feature Radeon HD 7500G graphics part with 256 stream processors and 327/424MHz clocks.
The main fear was the actual implementation of Bulldozer-like architecture inside a mobile chip, but Piledriver enhancements pulled it off, and paired up new VLIW4 GPUs the revamped CPU core certainly adds to overall performance. When compared to the previous generation A-Series APU Llano parts, Trinity is much better and it is surely a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the performance of the CPU part of the APU is still far away from being any competition to Intel's Ivy Bridge mobile CPUs, even without the discrete GPU to back it up. The performance on both GPU and CPU are solid, battery life should be pretty decent on Trinity platform and overall balance between GPU and CPU looks pretty good. The key advantage for Trinity could be the price. According to early pricing details, Trinity based notebooks might end up significantly cheaper than Intel counterparts. In addition, we will see Trinity in pretty affordable ultrathins.
All we need now is to see some prices across the Trinity range and see how much cheaper can notebooks based on Trinty be, but for now the Trinity looks like another winner for AMD, if prices and availability end up good.
You can check out some of the early reviews below.