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AMD Trinity – Quad core Ultrathin notebook processing within 17W limit?

As AMD prepares to launch its third and critical Fusion APU, Trinity, later this spring, there are quite a few speculations on how it will perform. Here are the newest updates from reliable US sources

There are a myriad of rumours about the upcoming AMD A10 and other Trinity Fusion APU processors, some good, other not so good. The good ones emphasise the very fast HD7000-series integrated GPU as well as the Piledriver-generation cores, a pair of dual core modules, integrated with support for AVX and AES instruction extensions. The bad ones state concerns about TDP vs Ivy Bridge, since Trinity is still on a 32 nm process, as well as possibly slower overall CPU performance than Trinity's currently shipping predecessor, the A8 Llano – which of course could be an embarassment for AMD if it happens.

Fresh from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, here are some updates from reliable sources, that shine some light on what Trinity may be when it arrives within just over a month.
Firstly, the updates say that, due to much higher clock speeds at up to 3.8 GHz, nearly a GHz more than the highest clocked Llano, the Trinity overall CPU performance will be higher than Llano in most apps.The improvements in cache and memory controller bandwidth and latencies, which were some of the weak points of Bulldozer before this, would also ensure higher level system performance despite sharing the same socket as Llano.
Second, the overall CPU and GPU performance boost over Llano in most actual game usage models will be nearling half extra FPS, again not bad knowing we are still in the same semicon process. This would particularly affect Nvidia attempts to sell extra (therefore extra cost and extra TDP too) GPUs for entry level 3-D mobile systems based on Ivy Bridge too, as for such systems, an integrated APU may make more cost and design simplicity sense than adding a GPU to a CPU.
Third, with improved power management on both CPU and GPU sides, the overall TDP, according to the sources, will not pose the problem despite the massive increase in the GPU portion of the processor and the internal buses linking the CPU and GPU.
Most importantly, there will nearly certainly be a low-power ultrathin (i.e. UltraBook in Intel speak) 17W TDP grade Trinity APU with two dual-core modules and proper GPU. Now, depending on the actual CPU and GPU clock speeds delivered in this case, there would be a very interesting outcome here: an AMD based ultrathin could have somewhat higher performance, both CPU and GPU, than an Ivy Bridge dual core 4 thread ultrathin at the same time. Coupled with the likelihood of Intel Ivy Bridge UltraBooks coming out only in June onwards, this could give AMD a bit of breathing room to focus on this lucrative and, at the moment, quite fashionable product segment created, well, by Intel and, before it, Apple with Macbook Air.
That is, of course, if AMD can provide this part at or near the initial Trinity launch date this spring.
Finally, while AMD still has lots of ground to cover in the CPU department, the eventual success of Trinity – and AMD seems confident they can make enough of them to setify the demand – is a serious warning to Nvidia that they got to gain ground in the CPU department somehow, both in the PC and ultramobile segment. On the PC side, they simply got nothing. On the ARM side, Qualcomm and Huawei now have higher performing CPUs, and pretty nasty GPUs (Adreno, anagram of Radeon) too – as witnessed by Asus eee Transformer Full HD version Qualcomm design win. Interesting times ahead…

Nebojsa Novakovic
In the spare time over the past two decades, editor and writer of high-end computer hardware and design features and analysis for European and US media and analyst houses. Reviews of high end hardware are my specialty for 28 years already.

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