1 Llano beats 3000 Intel HDs

Subject: Mobile | June 14, 2011 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: llano, APU, sabine

It has been a long wait for AMD's Llano APU but the wait is over and unlike a certain game the news is good.  The CPU portion is based on the same Stars architecture that current generation Phenoms use but that only accounts for about 50% of the die space, the remaining space is taken up by the graphics processing units.  Using what AMD calls the 'Fusion Compute Link', the graphics portion of the die can access the memory it shares with the CPU which has big impacts on the speed of processing OpenCL and other applications that can utilize the GPGPU architecture both AMD and Intel are using currently.  What that translates to in terms of performance is significantly better gaming performance than Intel's HD 3000 IGP, though performance in other situations is not up to the competitions level.  It looks like this particular implementation of Llano will give you a notebook in the range of $700 which will allow you to game at a decent resolution with most settings enabled.  

Read Ryan's full review of the architecture and the AMD A-Series Notebook here.

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"Since competing with Intel on processor performance is out of the question, this entire platform instead must rely on its graphics performance and its portability. Fortunately, these are two areas where Llano shows great strength. Even with dual graphics disabled, the APU was capable of out-performing Intel’s current HD 3000 IGP by a significant margin."

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Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD lines up Llano

Introduction

2006.  That was the year where the product we are reviewing today was first consummated and the year that AMD and ATI merged in a $5.4 billion deal that many read about scratching their heads.  At the time the pairing of a the 2nd place microprocessor company with the 2nd place graphics technology vendor might have seemed like an odd arrangement even with the immediate benefit of a unified platform of chipset, integrated graphics and processor to offer to mobile and desktop OEMs.  In truth though, that was a temporary solution to a more long term problem that we now know as heterogeneous computing: the merging not just of these companies but all the computing workloads of CPUs and GPUs.

Five years later, and by most accounts more than a couple of years late, the new AMD that now sans-manufacturing facility is ready to release the first mainstream APU, Accelerated Processing Unit.  While the APU name is something that the competition hasn't adopted, the premise of a CPU/GPU combination processing unit is not just the future, it is the present as well.  Intel has been shipping Sandy Bridge, the first mainstream silicon with a CPU and GPU truly integrated together on a single die since January 2011 and AMD no longer has the timing advantage that we thought it would when the merger was announced.

For sanity sake, I should mention the Zacate platform that combines an ATI-based GPU with a custom low power x86 core called Bobcat for the netbook and nettop market that was released in November of 2010.  As much as we like that technology it doesn't have the performance characteristics to address the mainstream market and that is exactly where Llano comes in.

AMD Llano Architecture

Llano's architecture has been no secret over the last two years as AMD has let details and specifications leak at a slow pace in order to build interest and excitement over the pending transition.  That information release has actually slowed this year though likely to reduce expectations on the first generation APU with the release of the Sandy Bridge processor proving to be more potent than perhaps AMD expected.  And in truth, while the Llano design as whole is brand new all of the components that make it up have been seen before - both the x86 Stars core and the Radeon 5000 series-class have been tested and digested on PC Perspective for many years.

For today's launch we were given a notebook reference platform for the Llano architecture called "Sabine".  While the specifications we are looking at here are specific to this mainstream notebook platform nearly all will apply to the desktop release later in the year (perhaps later in the month actually).

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The platform diagram above gives us an overview of what components will make up a system built on the Llano Fusion APU design.  The APU itself is made up 2 or 4 x86 CPU cores that come from the Stars family released with the Phenom / Phenom II processors.  They do introduce a new Turbo Core feature that we will discuss later that is somewhat analogous to what Intel has done with its processors with Turbo Boost. 

There is a TON of more information, so be sure you hit that Read More link right now!!

New Gigabyte Motherboards: Llano, iSSD and Socket 2011 Models

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 04:52 AM |
Tagged: ssd, socket 2011, llano, intel ssd, gigabyte, computex, APU

We stopped by the Gigaybte booth during Computex 2011 this week and found a host of new motherboards that range from the mainstream to the ultra-extreme. 

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First up is the A75-UD4H that supports the new AMD FM1 socket and the upcoming AMD Llano processor.  Even though the APU will have integrated graphics on die, the Gigabyte board support AMD Dual Graphics technology and CrossFire multi-GPU solutions in conjunction with 8 USB 3.0 ports. 

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The board will include output connections of VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort along with size USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0. 

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The Z68XP-UD3 motherboard is one that will be offered in two different ways: one with an SSD and one without.  The "iSSD" model will actually include an mSATA Intel 20GB SLC SSD and should come in at a cost of under $250.  Considering the Larson Creek drive will cost you anywhere from $90-110 on its own, the combination of a Z68 motherboard and SSD is actually very price competitive.  Plus, you get the convenience of having the SSD on the motherboard without it taking up a 3.5-in or 2.5-in drive bay.

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For those that choose to get the lower cost board without the included Intel SSD you will be able to choose from several other newcomers to the mSATA form factor including Kingston and OCZ.

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Of course we had to take a look at the Socket 2011 motherboard, the X79A-UD3 with support for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor.  According to the slide information this will include a new version of the SSD caching technology called RSTe (Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise) with support for USB 3.0 and quad-channel DDR3 memory.

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For those that haven't seen, here is a close up of the Socket 2011 in all its glory - that's a lot of pins!!

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: Gigabyte

AMD Shows Off Trinity APU based on Bulldozer, APU for Tablets

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 09:28 AM |
Tagged: trinity, llano, fusion, computex, bulldozer, APU, amd

While talking up the new 900-series of chipset and the branding for the upcoming AMD Llano APU launch, AMD did surprise us by showing off a bit more of the future than typical.  Rick Bergman, general manager of the AMD Product Group, pulled a Trinity-based APU out of his pocket to demonstrate the conviction of staying on a "one-APU-per-year" cycle in the years to come.

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While it looks just like any other AMD processors from a distance, this Trinity APU is based on the Bulldozer x86 architecture (which will see the first release as a CPU only later this year) and combines some amount of SIMD-units (aka Radeon cores) for a CPU/GPU combo.  This will be the part that succeeds Llano, due out in a few short days.

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This roadmap shows the cadence of once a year will be the norm for AMD going forward and that AMD plans to introduce an APU for the tablet market sometime in 2012.  It will be interesting to see how late to the game AMD is in this arena and if they can compete with what ARM is doing or even what Intel will be doing with Medfield. 

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: AMD

Leaking Llano and Bulldozer prices

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2011 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: llano, leak, bulldozer, amd

We now know what to expect from AMD's Llano, as far as pricing and initial model numbers.  None of the Llano chips top $200 which is good as the Intel models that they will be competing against are also in that price range.  Bulldozer is a little more expensive, with the lower end quad-core running $220 up to $320 for the high end octo-core, again bang on with Intel's competing Sandy Bridge parts.  It is a question of the performance gap between Intel and AMD, which unfortunately remains unanswered for now.

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"AMD has started shipping its Llano APUs to notebook clients and will begin to market the APUs to channels in July 2011, according to sources from notebook makers.

AMD targets to ship one million notebook-use Llano APUs in June, 1.5 million in July, and a total of 8-9 million for the whole of 2011, revealed the sources, citing AMD's internal estimates.

If the shipment goals are realized, AMD will be able to boost its share in the notebook CPU segment to 15% by the end of the year, the sources commented."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD's new and improved minimalist BIOS replacement, Coreboot

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: amd, coreboot, uefi, bios, embedded, llano, opteron, s3

A lot of attention is being paid to UEFI, the new graphical BIOS replacement that not only lets you utilize 2TB+ drives as a boot device but will give you mouse control over the games that come integrated with your settings.  It does offer quite a few advantages over the old BIOS but adds complexity as well.  AMD has gone a different route with their Opteron series with Coreboot (aka LinuxBIOS) a different way of initializing a computer.  It does a very minimal hardware initialization and then moves into what is called a payload, which contains the familiar abilities of the BIOS but not integrated directly into the hardware initialization in any way.  This is far more useful for server and embedded applications than the latest ROG board, which is why embedded Llano will be receiving support and why Opteron already does.  Follow the links from The Inquirer for more.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has announced that its upcoming Llano accelerated processing unit (APU) will support Coreboot.

AMD has been pushing development the BIOS replacement initiative Coreboot for many years but has focused on getting support for its embedded and server processors. Now the company has come out and said that all of its future processors will support Coreboot, from Llano onwards."

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Source: The Inquirer

AMD Llano Integrated Graphics Looks Like HD 6550

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | May 2, 2011 - 07:59 PM |
Tagged: llano, fusion, amd

On Valentine’s Day, AMD reached out to us after our relationship with Intel’s Sandy B. broke down. A mug, some chocolate, and a promise of a wonderful date with their good friend Llano was AMD’s hope to help us move on to a more stable relationship. Months have gone by and we have made up with Sandy with many a great SATAday spent together. While Llano has yet to appear, AMD did urge us to keep waiting by revealing some of her measurements and an option for another playful partner.

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Image from Donanim Haber

Llano’s GPU, as reported by Donanim Haber (translated to English), will feature 400 stream processors which will be clocked at 594 MHz. TechPowerUp also reports that it will be DirectX 11 compatible as expected and can pair up with one of AMD’s “Turks” based discrete GPUs: the HD 6570 and HD 6670. This combined GPU will be registered to the system as a Radeon HD6690 using Hybrid CrossFireX.

Just under two weeks ago we reviewed the aforementioned "Turks" based HD 6670 and 6570 with games like Left 4 Dead 2. Alone, those cards were able to play many games with antialiasing for people with monitor resolutions of 1680x1050. Llano will not perform as well as those cards but should be able to play those same games, and others, with just a few settings reduced. That said, Llano is also not a discrete card and thus it is not necessarily fair to compare it with one. Lastly, Llano can also be paired with those cards for further performance benefits making them all the more enticing for gamers not wishing to purchase higher end discrete graphics cards.

Source: Donanimhaber

AMD's been having a very busy start to the year

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2011 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, wichita, krishna, llano, amd

If DigiTimes sources are right and they usually are, you should have no trouble securing a Llano part when they are released in June/July. With an expected 3,000,000 parts headed out the door there will be plenty of APUs for everybody.  Even better news is that the 28nm Southern Island parts have been taped out which indicates very good things for that process technology and the chips it will produce.

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"AMD is ready to start selling its new Llano-based APUs as soon as June or July and has set a goal of shipping three million units in the third quarter of 2011, accounting for 40% of AMD's total CPU shipments in the quarter, according to sources from motherboard makers.

AMD responded by stating it does not comment on unannounced products.

AMD's better-than-expected APU shipments helped the company to achieve on-year growth of 98% and on-quarter growth of 36% for its first-quarter net profit, which reached US$510 million.

The sources pointed out that the AMD's APU platform's low price has helped it receive supports from many of AMD's partners and the company in the first quarter already shipped about three million Brazos-based CPUs with 50% of the shipments being used for notebook platform.

The sources pointed out that AMD's new Llano APU will have a great chance to raise AMD's share in CPU market from around 20% in 2010 to 30%.

Taiwan-based Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and Micro-Star International (MSI) have all already prepared several different motherboard models designed specifically for Llano. Since AMD's APU offers a better price, but has a similar performance as Intel's same-grade products, the competition may trigger Intel to consider a price cut to counter, the sources noted.

In addition to Llano, AMD's 28nm products including Krishna- and Wichita-based APUs and Southern Island GPU are already under tape-out."

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Source: DigiTimes