Subject: Processors | June 13, 2012 - 10:00 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: TrustZone, hsa, Cortex-A5, cortex, arm, APU, amd, AFDS
Last year after that particular AFDS, there was much speculation that AMD and ARM would get a whole lot closer. Today we have confirmed that in two ways. The first is that AMD and ARM are founding members of the HSA Foundation. This endeavor is a rather ambitious project that looks to make it much easier for programmers to access the full computer power of a CPU/GPU combo, or as AMD likes to call them, the APU. The second confirmation is one that has been theorized for quite some time, but few people have actually hit upon the actual implementation. This second confirmation is that AMD is licensing ARM cores and actually integrating them into their x86 based APUs.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 12:18 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd, AFDS
During the opening keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012, AMD's Dr. Lisa Su revealed a slide with performance of the upcoming 3rd genreation Kaveri APU.
While Trinity is currently rated at 726 GFLOPS, the Kaveri APU due late in 2012 or early 2013, will have at least 1 TFLOPS of total compute performance. That is a 37% boost over the previous generation.
If you want more information, check out our keynote live blog!!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m
So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III. Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.
In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU. Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel.
The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do. With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec. The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase.
We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results. We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below. Enjoy!
Subject: Processors | May 16, 2012 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: trinity, radeon, igp, gpu, APU, amd. A10-4600M
AMD's A10-4600M APU has finally arrived, showing off an enhanced Piledriver core and a new Northern Islands based graphics core. This is a big step up from Llano in terms of general processing power but not a huge improvement over Bulldozer chips, though the raised clock speed does help it in general tasks. Unfortunately the AMD still chip lags far behind the performance of Intel's mobile i5 processors and while the graphics are certainly more powerful on Trinity they still aren't up to an impressive level of performance. The Tech Report liked the high end A10-4600M but think that Trinity's low power chips are really going to shine in inexpensive ultraportable machines.
You can also check out Matt's review of Llano in a reference laptop from AMD for more information.
"AMD has pulled the curtains back on Trinity, its next-generation APU, which features new Piledriver CPU cores and Northern Islands-derived integrated graphics. Join us as we outline Trinity's architecture and run it through a whole host of benchmarks, from old staples to OpenCL-accelerated apps and "inside the second" gaming tests."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD Launches New Trinity APU @ TechwareLabs
- The AMD Trinity Review (A10-4600M): A New Hope @ AnandTech
- AMD A10 'Trinity' APU review @ Hardware.Info
- AMD Launches New 2012 A-Series APU (Trinity) @ Bjorn3d
- AMD Trinity Preview @ Neoseeker
- AMD Trinity A10-4600M APU Review: Jumping the Shark? @ VR-Zone
- AMD Trinity: Going Mobile with a New APU @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: Processors | May 15, 2012 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, APU, trinity
AMD today announced the widely anticipated launch of its 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) for mainstream and ultrathin notebooks, All-in-One and traditional desktops, home theater PCs and embedded designs.
The 2nd-Generation A-Series APU, codenamed “Trinity”, is a grounds-up improved design over the previous generation, enabling a best-in-class PC mobility, entertainment, and gaming experience. New features of the product design include:
- Double the performance per watt of the previous generation;
- The AMD HD Media Accelerator with a unique set of technologies designed to optimize video quality available with premium and Internet video content, and accelerate video file conversion;
- An increase in CPU performance of up to 29 percent with higher processor speeds thanks to the next-generation AMD “Piledriver” CPU core with 3rd-Generation AMD Turbo Core technology, where power is dynamically shifted between the CPU and GPU depending on application needs, effectively providing a more responsive experience that can boost CPU frequencies to up to 3.2 GHz;
- AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics for an increase of graphics performance up to 56% over the previous generation. Combined, the CPU and GPU cores deliver more than 700 gigaflops of computing performance – several times more than the fastest x86 CPUs – to boost performance of hundreds of applications;
- Up to 12 hours of battery life through CPU and GPU power enhancements, with clear battery life leadership in notebook form factors.
“The latest OEM notebooks, ultrathins, All-in-Ones and desktops based on the new AMD A-Series APU enable the best video and gaming experiences, highly responsive performance with AMD Turbo CORE, and accelerate an ever-increasing range of productivity and multimedia applications -- in sleek, stylish designs at price points that make sense,” said Chris Cloran, corporate vice president and General Manager, AMD Client Business Unit. “Our 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU is a major step forward in every performance and power dimension, allowing users to enjoy a stunning experience without having to give up the things that matter to them most. This experience doesn’t stop at mainstream notebooks. It carries over into affordable ultrathin form factors featuring the latest in AMD Radeon graphics.”
The Growing AMD Accelerated Application Ecosystem
The developer ecosystem continues to gravitate to the unmatched level of compute and unique processing capabilities of the APU as more than 100 applications and games are now accelerated by AMD APUs. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU gives users superior Web-based video experience thanks to plug-ins for Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 that make it easy for consumers to turn on AMD Steady Video technology. Recent applications that have been optimized for use on AMD A-Series APUs include Adobe Photoshop CS6, WinZip 16.5 and VLC Media Player. AMD A-Series APUs are also well-positioned to take advantage of the upcoming transition to the Windows 8 operating system.
“We are excited for the introduction of the 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU and are confident it will continue the great work Microsoft and AMD have done together on the A-Series APU,” said Aidan Marcuss, senior director, Windows Business Planning, Microsoft Corp. “We look forward to seeing the A-Series APU in action with Windows 8 to deliver a great user experience across a variety of hardware.”
For developers who want to engage in the industry’s move toward heterogeneous computing, the upcoming AMD Fusion12 Developer Summit will offer them a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge base. More information on AFDS can be found here.
With more than 12 hours of ‘resting’ battery life, AMD is now an industry leader in notebook battery-life performance. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU delivers increased levels of performance, while consuming half the power as its predecessor.
These gains can be attributed to the new power-optimized “Piledriver” CPU core, as well as to AMD Start Now technology, which is designed to maximize system responsiveness by quickly entering and exiting low power states. With AMD Start Now, the computer resumes from sleep mode in as few as two seconds and boots to the desktop in as few as 10 seconds.
In ultrathin form factors, AMD enables an uncompromised visual experience thanks to a power-efficient and premium AMD Radeon graphics engine. Consumers can expect to see ultrathin notebooks based on dual-core 17-watt and quad-core 25-watt AMD A-Series APUs. These products will be easily identifiable by aluminum-styled VISION Technology stickers at a range of competitive price points.
As more and more people turn to their computers as the hub for their entertainment, the visual aspect of computing becomes ever more important. To enhance these capabilities, AMD created the AMD HD Media Accelerator – a unique set of technologies that enable the best video quality on a PC. Key features of the HD Media Accelerator include:
- AMD Perfect Picture HD – An image, video processing and display technology that automatically makes images and video better with color vibrancy adjustments, edge enhancement, noise reduction and dynamic contrast fixes;
- AMD Steady Video Technology – A technology that enables smooth playback of jittery video content with a single button click thanks to plug-ins for popular Web browsers and multimedia applications;
- AMD Quick Stream Technology – A new technology that prioritizes video streaming on PC systems for a smooth, virtually uninterrupted video stream; True HD video chat with up to four people at once;
- AMD Video Converter – A video compression engine for fast conversion and sharing of media files across multiple formats and devices; Full decode support for H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, MVC, DivX and WMV.
The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU builds on AMD’s legacy of gaming leadership with an increase in graphics performance of up to 56% over the previous generation and support for:
AMD Eyefinity Technology – For the first time, this immersive technology is available from an APU without the need for a discrete graphics card Performance-leading DirectX 11 graphics architecture and 1080p gaming a life-like level of detail; AMD Radeon dual graphics support that delivers a performance boost of up to 75 percent when adding a discrete graphics card to the APU.11 The AMD Radeon dual graphics option also offers support for DirectX 9 for older game titles, and uses new AMD CrossFire Technology Profiles for easier updates.
AMD’s position is not enviable. Though they’re the only large competitor to Intel in the market for x86 processors, the company is dwarfed by the Giant of Santa Clara. As a resident of Portland, I can’t forget this fact. Intel offices are strewn across the landscape of the western suburbs, most of them at least four times larger than any office I’ve worked at.
Despite the long odds, AMD is set in this course for now and has no choice but to soldier on. And so we have today’s reference platform, a laptop powered by AMD’s latest mobile processor, codenamed Trinity. These processors, like the older Llano models, will be sold as the AMD A-Series. This might lead you to think that it’s simply another minor update, but that’s not the case.
Llano was released around the same time as Bulldozer, but it did not use Bulldozer cores. Instead it used yet another update of Stars, which is a mobile incarnation of Phenom II, which was of course an improvement upon the original Phenom. The “new” Llano APU in fact was equipped with some rather old processor cores. This showed in the performance of the mobile Llano products. They simply could not keep up with Sandy Bridge’s more modern cores.
Bulldozer isn’t coming to mobile with Trinity, either. Instead we’re receiving Piledriver. AMD has effectively skipped the first iteration of its new Bulldozer architecture and moved straight on to the second. Piledriver includes the third generation of AMD’s Turbo Core and promises “up to 29%” better processor performance than last year’s Llano-based A-Series.
That’s a significant improvement, should it turn out to be correct. Is it true, and will it be enough to catch up to Intel?
Subject: Processors | May 8, 2012 - 05:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrathins, trinity, piledriver, mobile, APU, amd
Last week we detailed the changes and improvements in AMD’s upcoming Trinity Accelerated Processing Units (APU). Today, DigiTimes has confirmed that Trinity will be released later this month. The only catch is that the company is only releasing the mobile Trinity chips in May. The higher end, and higher TDP, parts will not be released until August 2012.
A Trinity APU die next to a USB flash drive
According to their sources, AMD will be pricing the mobile Trinity chips very aggressively. They will offer a cheaper alternative to OEMs as AMD based ultrathins compared to an Ivy Bridge based ultabrook notebook. The low power Trinity chips will have vastly superior GPU execution units, though Ivy Bridge may retain the CPU performance crown. Both chips are able to sip voltage and have low TDPs so it will be interesting to see the results of battery life tests once the chips and notebooks are released and are in the hands of reviewers.
Trinity desktop parts are scheduled for release in August, including the A10-5800K, A10-5700, A8-5600K, and A8-5500. They are also planning lower end A6 and A4 series Trinity APUs.
Beyond Trinity, their sources have indicated that AMD will release very low power Brazos 2.0 processors for ultrathins and Windows 8 tablets that have 18W TDPs in June 2012. Vishera–Piledriver architecture, AM3+ socket–FX series desktop CPUs (no iGPU) will be released sometime in the third quarter of this year (Q3 2012). The FX and Brazos processors include the FX-8350, FX-6300, FX-4320, and the E2-1800 and E1-1200 respectively.
While AMD may not have the lowest manufacturing process, are seemingly dropping employees like flies, and had a huge financial loss due to buying themselves out of GlobalFoundries they are still hanging in there and delivering competitive products for the low to mid-range markets.
Subject: Processors | May 4, 2012 - 02:11 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, piledriver, llnao, fm2, APU, AMD A series
EXP Review has managed to get their hands on a set of AMD slides containing information on one of the company’s upcoming processor lines. The Llano successor, known as Trinity, is a new APU due out later this year that is said to bring increases in performance thanks to several architectural enhancements.
A Trinity APU die sitting next to a USB flash drive
Llano is AMD’s currently available Accelerated Processing Unit, or APU. The chips combine updated “Stars” mobile Phenom II CPU cores and Radeon 6000 series graphics cores into a single package. Further, the APUs contain a PCI-E 2.0 controller, integrated memory controller, and UVD3 hardware video decoding units. Some models also support AMD’s Turbo Core and Hybrid Graphics Technology which allow them to automatically boost CPU clockspeeds when lower GPU usage leaves TDP headroom, and to pair with a discrete Radeon HD 6450, 6570, or 6670 GPU in a Crossfire-like configuration. Built on a 32nm silicon on insulator (SOI) manufacturing process by GlobalFoundries, the APUs employ 1.45 billion transistors and have a die size of 228mm2 for the desktop versions. Desktop parts have TDPs of 65 watts or 100 watts depending on the particular chip and connect to the motherboards using the FM1 socket (which was a new socket for AMD, it has 905 contacts). There are both desktop and mobile Llano parts, though they are essentially the same chips. The mobile parts are scaled down desktop Llano chips that run at lower clockspeeds, top out DDR3 support at 1600MHz (versus DDR3 1866MHz on the desktop parts), have lower TDPs of either 35W or 45W, and use a slightly different socket (FS1).
In our review, and what many other users noted, is that Llano’s CPU performance really left something to be desired. Fortunately for AMD, the GPU portion of the chip delivered on performance and made the APU desirable for certain niches. The low power chips had a place in home theater PCs (HTPCs), cheap desktops, and even budget gaming rigs to an extent. Still, the CPU performance really held Llano back in terms of popularity and adoption among enthusiasts.
Llano APU in action during overclocking and gaming tests.
The upcoming Trinity processors bring quite a few enhancements to the table, foremost of which is a revamped CPU part that ditches the old Phenom II processor cores in favor of updated Piledriver architecture CPU modules. The move to the Piledriver x86 cores promises an increase in IPC, leakage reduction, CAC reduction, and increased clockspeeds according to the leaked slides, but the most important change is the increased performance per clock numbers. The Trinity APUs are set to replace the A8–or performance series of–Llano APUs with quad core Trinity processors that utilize two Piledriver modules that each share 2MB cache for 4MB of total L2 cache. In that respect, Trinity will be similar to Llano in that it does not employ any L3 cache that is shared between the CPU and GPU cores. Interestingly, that may mean that using higher clocked RAM can improve performance on Trinity just as it did with Llano. If true, that would make Trinity’s improved DDR3 support–up to DDR3 2133MHz– all the better. On the GPU side of things, Trinity moves to a “Northern Islands” VLIW4 architecture with up to 384 stream processing units. Although the GPU area is physically smaller, it is said to be more efficient than the GPU cores in Llano APUs. The new GPU core is DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1 compliant. Also, it includes an updated hardware tessellator engine and hardware encoding unit (AMD Accelerated Video Converter).
Trinity will continue to offer 65W and 100W TDPs as well as a 35W part. The TDPs are the same as those in Llano, but AMD has managed to lower the voltages needed to run Trinity out of the box. Also, AMD is claiming the new Trinity chips will sip power at idle–as low as 1.08 watts.
Trinity also ratchets up the automatic overclocking with Turbo Core 3 support which can boost the CPU clockspeed up to 19% or the GPU clockspeed up to 20% above stock clocks. Even better, the APU is able to allocate power to either the GPU or CPU depending on which area needs the boost and how much TDP headroom the chip has when doing certain tasks. For example, AMD shows that the A10-4600M APU can downclock the GPU from the default clockspeed of 685MHz to 496MHz, allowing the x86 Piledriver cores to achieve up to a 900MHz overclock at a clockspeed of 3.2GHz. Alternatively, when the GPU is needed, it can run at 685MHz while the CPU sits at 2.3GHz. They are likely not able to push the GPU much further as any more reductions in CPU speeds would need to be much bigger than any accompanying GPU increases. And at that point, the GPU would likely become bottlenecked and the system would be starved of too much CPU power anyway.
The Trinity APUs continue to be based on GlobalFoundries’ 32nm SOI manufacturing process, but this time the chips are slightly larger with a die size of 246mm^2. Although the APU is wholly larger than Llano, they actually have fewer transistors at 1.303 billion versus the 1.45 billion in Llano. Although that may seem like a step in the wrong direction, the new CPU modules and GPU cores are much more efficient than those in Llano so it should all balance out and Trinity should come out on top despite the lower transistor count. The Trinity APUs will also feature an improved instruction set that includes AVX, AVX1.1, FMA3, AES, and F16C which should help the CPU in certain tasks.
Overall, Trinity is looking like an improved part versus Llano, especially in the CPU department. Although AMD’s numbers should be taken with more than a grain of salt, they are claiming 26% better desktop system performance as a result of the CPU overhaul. Granted, Bulldozer was not a CPU powerhouse itself when compared to the competition, but it is–at least on paper–a good design. When paired with a relatively good GPU, as is the case of Trinity, the Piledriver [architecture based] (a refined version of the Bulldozer architecture with some under-the-hood tweaks) cores should at the least not hold the GPU back, and at best make the CPU processor performance good enough to make the Trinity APU all the more desirable to an even wider range of potential buyers. Pricing of the new APUs is still up in the air, but they are set to release later this month if a certain leak is to be believed.
I think that we can expect to see an all around better chip with Trinity, though pricing will be the ultimate factor in determining how popular it is. I suspect that Intel will still carry the CPU crown, but if the price is right, AMD can sell a lot of Trinity chips to builders that only need decent CPUs to support good integrated GPU cores in systems where the GPU is more important. I am anxiously awaiting reviews of the new Trinity chips and hoping that AMD continues to have successful chips with their line of APUs.
Introduction, Low-Power Computing Was Never Enjoyable
It was nearly five years ago that ASUS announced the first Eee PC model at Computex. That October the first production version of what would to be called a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 4G, was released. The press latched on to the little Eee PC, making it the new darling of the computer industry. It was small, it was inexpensive, and it was unlike anything on the market.
Even so, the original Eee PC was a bit of a dead end. It used an Intel Celeron processor that was not suited for the application. It consumed too much power and took up a significant portion of the netbook’s production cost. If Intel’s Celeron had remained the only option for netbooks they probably would not have made the leap from press darling to mainstream consumer device.
It turned out that Intel (perhaps unintentionally) had the solution – Atom. Originally built with hopes that it might power “mobile Internet devices” it proved to be the netbook’s savior. It allowed vendors to squeeze out cheap netbooks with Windows and a proper hard drive.
At the time, Atom and the netbook seemed promising. Sales were great – consumers loved the cute, pint-sized, affordable computers. In 2009 netbook sales jumped by over 160% quarter-over-quarter while laptops staggered along with single-digit growth. The buzz quickly jumped to other products, spawning nettops, media centers and low-power all-in-one-PCs. There seemed to be nothing an Atom powered computer could not do.
Fast forward. Earlier this year, PC World ran an article asking if netbooks are dead. U.S. sales peaked in the first quarter of 2010 and have been nose-diving since then, and while some interest remains in the other markets, only central Europe and Latin America have held steady. It appears the star that burned brightest has indeed burned the quickest.
Get Out the Microscope
AMD announced their Q1 2012 earnings last week, which turned out better than the previous numbers suggested. The bad news is that they posted a net loss of $590 million. That does sound pretty bad considering that their gross revenue was $1.59 billion, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. Of course, there are thoughts of “those spendthrift executives are burying AMD again”, but this is not the case. The loss lays squarely on the GLOBALFOUNDRIES equity and wafer agreements that have totally been retooled.
To get a good idea of where AMD stands in Q1, and for the rest of this year, we need to see how all these numbers actually get sorted out. Gross revenue is down 6% from the quarter before, which is expected due to seasonal pressures. This is right in line with Intel’s seasonal downturn, and in ways AMD was affected slightly less than their larger competitor. They are down around 2% from last year’s quarter, and part of that can be attributed to the continuing hard drive shortage that continued to affect the previous quarter.