Intel started the trend of integrating a GPU along with the CPU in the processor package with Clarkdale / Arrandale. The GPU moved to the die itself in Sandy Bridge. Despite having much more powerful GPUs at its disposal (from the ATI acquisition), AMD was a little late in getting to the CPU - GPU party. Their first full endeavour, the Llano APU (we're skipping Brazos / Zacate / Ontario as it was more of a netbook/nettop part), released towards the end of Q2 2011. The mobile version of the next generation APUs, Trinity, was launched in May 2012.

The desktop version of Trinity will be rolling out shortly. We have a gaming centric piece with general observations here. This piece will deal with the HTPC aspects. Llano, while being pretty decent for HTPC use, didn't excite us enough to recommend it wholeheartedly. Intel's Ivy Bridge, on the other hand, surprised us with its HTPC capabilities. In the rest of this review, we will see whether Trinity manages to pull things back for AMD on the HTPC front.

Some of the issues that we had with Llano included differences in video post processing for Blu-ray and local videos, issues with the Enforce Smooth Video Playback (ESVP) feature and driver problems related to chroma upsampling. Our first step after setting up the Trinity HTPC testbed was to check up on these issues. At the very outset, we are happy to note that advancements in software infrastructure, driver quality and to some extent, the hardware itself, have resolved most of the issues.

We see that the Trinity GPU is much better than Intel's HD4000 from a gaming viewpoint. Does this translate to a better performance when it comes to HTPC duties? As we will find out in the course of this piece, the answer isn't a resounding yes, but AMD does happen to get some things right where Intel missed the boat.

In this review, we present our experience with Trinity as a HTPC platform using an AMD A10-5800K (with AMD Radeon HD 7660D). In the first section, we tabulate our testbed setup and detail the tweaks made in the course of our testing. A description of our software setup and configuration is also provided. Following this, we have the results from the HQV 2.0 benchmark and some notes about the driver fixes that have made us happy. A small section devoted to the custom refresh rates is followed by some decoding and rendering benchmarks. No HTPC solution is completely tested without looking at the network streaming capabilities (Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight performance). In the final section, we cover miscellaneous aspects such as power consumption and then proceed to the final verdict.

Testbed and Software Setup
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  • Oxford Guy - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    4K strikes me as being completely unnecessary. 1080p is enough resolution. Reply
  • brookheather - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Is this a typo? "Intel and NVIDIA offer 50 Hz, 59 Hz and 60 Hz settings which are exactly double of the above settings" - 59 is not double 29 - did you mean 58? Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Nope :) 29 Hz is 'control panel speak' for 29.97 Hz and 59 Hz is 'control panel speak' for 59.94 Hz. So, if you have a file at 29.97 fps, it can be played back without any dropped or unsymmetrical repetition at 59.94 Hz since each frame has to be just 'painted' twice at that refresh rate. Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    This is exact the standard of article I read AT for.

    I remain complete bewildered that chip manufacturers cannot get the frame rates right. It may be an odd frame rate but it is a standard rate that has remained the same forever.

    However, the problem for AMD remains the TDP of the processors. Heat requires to be dealt with, usually by fans and that means noise. An HTPC needs to be as close to silent as possible.

    TDP of 65W is simply too high. You can (as I have) buy a ridiculously over powered i7-3770T which has a TDP of 45W. AMD need to reduce the TDP to no more than 35-45W. At that point there are various HTPC cases which can cool that completely passively.

    Overall this is yet another step forward in the ideal HTPC but we are still short of the promised land
    Reply
  • wwwcd - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    i7-3770T too expensive against Trynity models and have a double weakness video. For poor peoples it not be choice. Reply
  • cjs150 - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    I agree that the i7-3770T is too expensive at the moment compared to AMD alternatives but it does not have video weaknesses check out the review on Anandtech.

    The refresh rate is close to the correct rate but close is not good enough it should be spot on.

    There is still a lot of work to be done to get to an ideal HTPC CPU. Both AMD and intel are close. If anything AMD has slightly better video but, as I said, TDP is too high.

    Of course the other option is something like the Raspberry pi, unfortunately whilst hardware is promising the software still needs a lot of work
    Reply
  • Burticus - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Put one of these on a mini-itx board and cram it into something the size of the Shuttle HX61 that I just got and I am interested. I am so spoiled by having a small, silent, cool HTPC I will never go back to anything louder or bigger than a 360. Reply
  • LuckyKnight - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    AMD are missing a market here, working 23.976Hz with a 35W TDP for a passive cooled case. That would be my choice, if it existed.

    Shame Intel can't get 23.976 to work properly, despite their alleged promise!
    Reply
  • Esskay02 - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    "Intel started the trend of integrating a GPU along with the CPU in the processor package with Clarkdale / Arrandale. The GPU moved to the die itself in Sandy Bridge. Despite having a much more powerful GPUs at its disposal (from the ATI acquisition), AMD was a little late in getting to the CPU - GPU party."

    According to my readings, it was AMD not Intel, first to talk and initiated APU(cpu+gpu). Intel found the threat used it manpower and resources , came out release cpu+Gpu chip.
    Reply

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