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AMD A10-4600M Trinity For Mobile Review: Trying To Cut The Ivy

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged: trinity, radeon, igp, gpu, APU, amd

GPU Acceleration, Portability, Performance

General GPU Acceleration Performance

Intel has been boasting of its enhanced media acceleration and GPU-compute features found on its processors, such as Intel Quick Sync. They’re not the only one in that game. AMD has offered hardware acceleration support in the past and continues that with Trinity.

How much of an improvement do you receive when you use this feature? Let’s have a look.

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The results are all positive, though much more significant in some areas than others. ArcSoft MediaConverter saw a fairly small benefit – only 15 seconds, which represents about a 15% improvement.

However, CyberLink MediaEspresso saw a whopping 50% improvement and WinZip returned a respectable 30% improvement. These results are good, and it’s clear that GPU compute is helping Trinity make up for its weak processor performance. If the feature is available in software you use you’ll see receive a nice boost from enabling it. 

Portability

The reference platform is not a production laptop, so portability is impossible to judge. I imagine there will be Trinity APUs in systems of all shapes and sizes. I can, however, consider battery life. 

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According to press data the battery is a 62Wh unit (the reference platform battery doesn’t include this on its label, as it was built for use in Japan). That’s a bit larger than the average mainstream laptop battery, and the results are better than average, as well. 

From this data I am guessing that Trinity systems will offer battery life competitive with Intel. The 17W Trinity part could end up being an endurance king.

Conclusion

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Early on in the process of writing this review I made a comment to the other PC Perspective writers that summarized my impressions of Trinity. “The GPU is not as good as needs to be and the CPU is better than I expected it to be.”

The addition of the new Piledriver cores has given Trinity a solid boost over what Llano could offer. In some cases the AMD A10-4600M is nearly on par with an Intel Sandy Bridge dual-core. Trinity is still way behind Sandy Bridge, nevermind Ivy Bridge, in per-clock performance. It's not a stretch to say that Trinity is good enough for many users, but then again, Intel offers a competitive or superior value at virtually every price point. Sandy Bridge Core i5 dual-core systems are not expensive. There are a number of them available on Amazon with price tags between $500 and $600.

AMD promises that the lackluster performance of the processor is made up by the Radeon IGP. That’s the entire marketing position of Fusion, and that’s where Trinity stumbles. The problem is not that the IGP is bad. I’m just not sure that it’s good enough. I wonder – why buy a Trinity system instead of an Ivy Bridge dual-core with a low-end discrete GPU? The only answer I can fathom is price, but even then I can’t imagine a mid-range Ivy Bridge Core i3/GT 630M system will cost more than $800.

And let’s not forget that the 7660G is the fastest part AMD offers. The next-quickest has 34% fewer cores than the 7660G (256 vs 384) and a slightly lower maximum clock. Other versions are slower still, with fewer cores and/or lower clock speeds. Intel, on the other hand, ships HD 4000 on every Core branded Ivy Bridge laptop. There are some small clock speed changes, but nothing like what AMD imposes on Trinity. An Ivy Bridge Core i3 might be tough for an AMD A6-4400M to handle even if the Core i3 isn’t rocking a discrete GPU.

Battery life could be a high point. The 62Wh battery shipped in the reference design offered over seven hours of light use, which is solid. If manufacturers don’t skimp on battery sizes the run times of Trinity systems should be competitive with Intel, or better. Still, it’s hard to make a definitive judgment about battery endurance with a single system. 

I can’t find a way to look at Trinity that paints a favorable picture. Though certainly an improvement over Llano, it’s not enough. AMD is way behind Intel in processor performance, and the graphics performance does not offer redemption. The only way systems based off Trinity will be made competitive is by slashing and burning the prices.

That's what AMD has done in the past, and that's what they'll do again - A10 based systems are expected to cost $699, which isn't a lot of coin for a quad-core laptop with a decent graphics solution. It's still not low enough to make an AMD-A10 system an easy recommendation. Yes, it's cheap. But you're getting what you pay for.

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May 14, 2012 | 10:07 PM - Posted by Saumya (not verified)

http://liveoncampus.com/wire/show/3379815
Here is the AMD Demonstration of the Next Generation Trinity Fusion APU For Notebooks.
Further here is an Exclusive interview of the Prominent industry analyst Rob Enderle discussing the future of PC benchmarking in advance of AMD's Second-Generation A-Series APU launch.
With next DX11 capable integrated graphics, the new mobile CPU will still maintain a 17 Watt power envelope.

May 14, 2012 | 11:06 PM - Posted by Shashwat (not verified)

waiting for pcper awesome video series :)

Just like you did for LLano

Thanks for the review :)

May 14, 2012 | 11:14 PM - Posted by tbone (not verified)

good improvement over llano!

wow impressed with battery life against ivy bridge.

looking forward to the 17w version in retail

May 14, 2012 | 11:17 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

I agree. While the 17W part is going to have a fairly gimped GPU (compared to this 35W A10) it will be fast enough for on-the-road use and cheap. I'd really like to see a nice $500 Trinity ultraportable... preferably made by ASUS or Lenovo.

May 15, 2012 | 03:00 AM - Posted by Prodeous (not verified)

Now all we need is for someone at PCPer to take an FX-4100 and downclock it to same speeds and lower voltage accordingly to have a direct (well nearly as the L3 cache difference) comparison between Piledriver and Bulldozer.

As for the review it self, well done Matt.

May 15, 2012 | 04:05 AM - Posted by iExcellero (not verified)

First of all, I want to say I'm a HUGE AMD fan, so this was not easy for me to write...

The Trinity is a BIG disapoitment! Why? Because they (AMD) fail to deliver strong graphics performace with usual lack of CPU power to follow that. Ok, A10-4600 has a decent iGPU BUT that is the fastest one! All others are significantly slower. So HD4000 will be faster over all :( And OMG every Trinity APU has its own iGPU specifications! That will not confuse ordinary customer (who only cares about performanse) at all... NOT! And why the 25W and 17W APUs have bigger model numbers?!
And question that was bothering me from release od Bulldozer, who is the genius, better say wizard, in AMD who thought that AMD should sell processors as 1 module = 2 cores? It is 1 module = 1 core with 2 threads, same as Intel. And if they sold them like that it would lower performanse expectations and actually gave AMD better fighting chance. It's not the same to say "8 core AMD can't compete with 4 core Intel i5" and say "ok, 4 core AMD is little bit slower than Intel's i5". Am I right?!
So, lose - lose situation for AMD. I hope that GCN and Steamroller will be step foward for AMD (GPU's FPU integration with CPU modul and real 1 modul = 2 cores performance).

May 15, 2012 | 06:52 AM - Posted by Daedric (not verified)

hi.
Am a bit confused over the results. Anandtech shows Intel HD4000 beating amd in skyrim ??? What driver was used here?
Just wondering ...

The price is what is going to sell this. though I expected better gaming performance , this is gonna get my cash (assuming I manage to avoid pos 1366x768 gloss)

May 15, 2012 | 08:42 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I don't think our settings were exactly the same, since I used the straight medium detail presets, as they tweaked the AA settings a bit. If I have time I'll try running it again, and seeing if there is any change.

May 15, 2012 | 08:15 AM - Posted by Zanthis

Shout out to my fellow portlander, nice review matt.

May 15, 2012 | 10:30 AM - Posted by Uncle Bob (not verified)

Trinity works for me. It's better in every possible way - CPU/GPU performance and battery life.

Few people use their laptop all day long for number crunching. Unless that is all you do Trinity is by far the better platform and value than Intel even IB with HD 4000 graphics. If you want to pay more and get less, then Intel is the way to go. If you want to pay less and get much more of what typical laptop users need, then Trinity is spot on for the majority of consumers and that's where my paycheck is going.

May 15, 2012 | 10:39 AM - Posted by collie man (not verified)

So, what I take away from this review is if AMD can work this architecture down to a super low heat version {like 40c on full load} than the atom may finally be dead on the cheap silent system. That may be the only chance in hell they have left. Time will tell I supose

May 15, 2012 | 11:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All is well, but the author of this review forgot about one thing... The iGPU is a standard Northern Islands part, and is going to be CrossFire'able with a discrete AMD GPU part. Why pay for an Ivy Bridge plus a low-to-middle end discrete GPU, if you can have a much stronger Trinity + discrete Radeon dual-GPU gaming rig - for a lower price! I agree it's not going to compete with Intel in raw CPU performance, but in games the Trinity + discrete Radeon combo will be the absolute budget-friendly gaming king. Just as it was with Llano.

May 15, 2012 | 11:52 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I didn't forget about it. I just can't review what I don't have. I liked the old Llano+discrete system that ASUS K53T put out, and which we use for comparison in this review.

However, those systems are kind of hard to find. There's not much selection. Even the ASUS K53T I reviewed seemed like it was available at retail for a month or two. Then - poof! - gone. Now I can't find it anywhere.

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May 15, 2012 | 11:39 AM - Posted by ChrisB (not verified)

Typo: Trinity is still way behind Sandy Bridge, nevermind Ivy Bridge, in per-clock performance. It's not a stretch to say that Trinity is good enough for many users, but then again, why pay good "more" for less?

I think you want "money" there.

Solid review otherwise, was hoping for an improvement over K53T. (which is an awesome/cheap laptop btw)

May 15, 2012 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

Also isn't it supposed to be A10-4600M and not A6-4600M?

And anyone know when we can expect to see machines with the 17w part? And will we see computers that are as small as the ultrabooks "from Intel"?

May 15, 2012 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Thanks, I have fixed this.

May 16, 2012 | 09:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

comparing the 35watt trinity to Ivy which has 45watts a 30% power advantage I'd say Trinity is a huge advancement for AMD

May 16, 2012 | 04:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That ivy chip is priced at almost 400 bucks (for the cpu only) and its HD4000 is clocked at 1250Mhz, higher than most dual cores will be no doubt.

Joke of a comparison really. Not Pcper's fault, it's all that intel gave them for a reason.

May 16, 2012 | 12:41 PM - Posted by SEA (not verified)

35W 2 modules/4 threads AMD vs 45W 4 Cores/8 threads Intel is highly biased comparison. Particularly failing to show the 30% better battery live in AMDs notebooks

May 16, 2012 | 07:52 PM - Posted by Uncle Bob (not verified)

Tests have shown that Trinity is way ahead of IB HD 4000 graphics so IB is not going to save Intel in the laptop segment. Only a fool would pay hundreds more to get less performance from Intel.

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1928/1/

June 5, 2012 | 03:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Review weak and biased, especially with regard to the gpu. amd drivers are beta / alpha (not sure) of the intel are definitive. llano means already in these reviews. I saw the difference between drivers in a4 330m in 3D Mark06 was 3500pts to 5800pts. learn to predict what will be and not what is pre releases.

February 12, 2013 | 02:46 AM - Posted by VZT (not verified)

Can any1 tell me, if there is a chance/place to buy the same exact laptop that was tested. Or in the worse case scenario the test laptop itself?

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