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Although AMD's second-generation mainstream APU platform, codename Trinity, launched months ago in notebooks the official desktop launch is today. Rumor has it that AMD purposefully delayed the desktop Trinity launch to clear out unsold Llano inventories in the channel. Although selling APUs in notebooks is pretty easy, convincing desktop users to forgo the discrete GPU option (and ignore Intel) has been a tough battle for AMD. I keep going back to two slides that show us where AMD wants to go and the cores it'll take to get there:

The ultimate goal is this beautiful cohesive operation between CPU and GPU on a single die. That future will require a lot of software support, not only at the application level but also at the OS level. And I'm not talking about Windows 8. We're still far away from this APU dominated future, but AMD is marching in that direction. The second slide shows the x86 cores that we'll see from AMD along the way. AMD is still playing catch-up in the x86 CPU space and it's got a lot of lost time to make up for. There's no hiding the fact this is going to be a multi-year effort to simply get close to Intel's single-threaded x86 performance. Through pricing, leveraging its GPU technology and throwing more transistors at the problem AMD can still deliver competitive solutions, but it's not going to be a walk in the park.

Last week we took a look at the GPU side of the desktop Trinity APUs. We looked at the top end 384-core Radeon HD 7660D configuration as well as the slightly slower 256-core Radeon HD 7560D GPU, both of which easily outperformed Intel's HD 4000 and HD 2500. As far as processor graphics go, Trinity on the desktop maintains a healthy lead over Intel. There's still a place for discrete GPUs but that's pretty much at the $100 and above price points.

Today we're able to talk about pricing and x86 CPU performance among other things. The good news on that front is the most expensive Trinity APU is fully unlocked and is priced at $122:

AMD Socket-FM2 Lineup
  Modules/Cores CPU Clock Base/Turbo L2 Cache GPU TDP Price
A10-5800K 2 / 4 3.8 / 4.2 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 800MHz 100W $122
A10-5700 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 760MHz 65W $122
A8-5600K 2 / 4 3.6 / 3.9 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 100W $101
A8-5500 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 65W $101
A6-5400K 1 / 2 3.6 / 3.8 GHz 1MB 192 cores @ 760MHz 65W $67
A4-5300 1 / 2 3.4 / 3.6 GHz 1MB 128 cores @ 724MHz 65W $53
Athlon X4 750K 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB N/A 100W $81
Athlon X4 740 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB N/A 65W $71

Compare this to Llano's launch where the top end SKU launched at $135 and you'll see that AMD is somewhat getting with the times. I would still like to see something closer to $100 for the A10-5800K, but I find that I'm usually asking for a better deal than what most CPU makers are willing to give me.

AMD's competitive target is Intel's newly released Ivy Bridge Core i3 processors. There are only five Core i3s on the market today, four of which use Intel's HD 2500 graphics. The cheapest of the lineup is the Core i3 3220 with two cores running at 3.3GHz for $125. Intel disables turbo and other features (there's effectively no overclocking on these parts), which AMD is attempting to exploit by pitting its Trinity K-series SKUs (fully unlocked) against them. AMD's TDPs are noticeably higher (100W for the higher end K-series parts compared to 55W for the Core i3s). Intel will easily maintain the power advantage as a result under both CPU and GPU load, although AMD's GPU does deliver more performance per watt. Power consumption is a major concern of AMD's at this point. Without a new process node to move to for a while, AMD is hoping to rely on some design tricks to improve things in the future.

At the low end of the stack there are also two Athlon X4s without any active GPU if you just want a traditional Trinity CPU.

The Test

This will be our last CPU/APU review on the current test platform/software configuration. The next major CPU review will see a move to a brand new testbed running Windows 8. As always you can get access to far more numbers than what we report here if you use our performance comparison engine: Bench. Of course if you want to see the GPU and GPU Compute performance of AMD's Trinity APU check out part one of our coverage.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V Pro (Intel Z68)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 (AMD A85X)
Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Memory: 2 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
AMD Processor Graphics
Intel Processor Graphics
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 12.8
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64

 

Trinity CPU Performance: The Good and the Bad
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  • mikato - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Sounds legit. Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Can the GPU be overclocked or is it just for the CPU Reply
  • Medallish - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    AMD did a preview where they showed off an overclocked APU with the GPU pushed up to 1GHz, so I'm pretty sure it should be possible, but it might be a feature exclusive to some motherboards or chipsets. Reply
  • Doby - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I don't understand why the load power is more important than idle. I don't know about most people, but I don't turn off any of the 3 desktops/media center PCs I have in the house, but I do know the majority of the time they sit idle. I haven't done the math, but I would bet quite a bit of money that over all I will spend less on my power bill by having a lower idle than having lower at load power draw.

    I could see the issue on portable machines running off battery, but even then running full out is unlikely, and it becomes a "hurry up and wait" scenario that probably requires better analysis.

    I feel like benchmark performance is a bit over rated, we need to see value the consumer can leverage. I want to know which one "feels" faster, likelihood of running into application issues such as graphics drives, large displays, or even stability problems. I want to know what I can recommend to my parents for a basic internet PC. Even if I was doing video transcoding I'm not sitting around waiting for it, if it takes more than 30 seconds I'm up not waiting for it, it might as well be 5 min.

    I know its easier to just post a bunch of benchmarks, and I do still like to see them. But lets progress computing to the next level, user experience. I'm fine with a "doesn't make a difference" answer too, but that's still better than "12% faster for a process that you won't wait for anyway".

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the article, and appreciate the write up. Just looking for a bit different education.
    Reply
  • Visual - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I don't worry about power bills from running 24/7 idle. I have enough other devices at home that a PC wouldn't make a dent either way. But I do prefer if the computer cooling was not heard throughout the apartment.

    Power use under max load is important in selecting the case and cooling system, etc. You may load it that much only for a few minutes, but your setup still needs to handle that "worst case" situation. And if you are going for a quiet setup, it would be no comfort for you if it is quiet when not used, but racks up the noise and begins to bother you when you start using it.
    Reply
  • halbhh2 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Great questions, and we can see that the idle power draw of the A10 is good, and so it would make a good choice for typical use (which is 80-85% idle) for a typical use laptop, and it would do well obviously in playing many games, and can potentially do this at a reasonable cost (depending on the OEM maker, like HP). So, just like you, I wonder how long the typical battery run time is. That's how I bought my yr-old HP laptop -- just typical battery run time and a good display, and good price. I knew enough to know those were the parameters that would matter for our laptop, and it would be okay at occasional demanding use just as you describe -- when it takes more than 20-30 seconds, you are off doing something else anyway. Reply
  • Hubb1e - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Doby, I agree with you. I think it really comes down to a yes or no question on each use case. Benchmarks are nice, but i3s and A10s are really not enthusiast level CPUs so 12% single threaded advantage doesn't matter in the long run. The question to ask is "Can it run my applications"

    And in the case of Trinity vs i3 the main difference is that it can play games while the i3 with HD2500 graphics can't. If you look at Diablo 3, that game was played by a lot of people that are not traditionally PC gamers. An i3 with HD2500 is barely playable while Trinity is a pleasure to use on Diablo 3. For most PC buyers I think Trinity makes a lot of sense where idle power matters most, CPU performance is competitive, and gaming is possible. People who buy off the shelf PCs are not that comfortable putting a GPU in their rigs so Trinity is a good option for a general use PC. Enthusiasts who aren't AMD fanatics will stay away from this chip and that's fine. It will be a sales success for AMD if they can make enough profit on it. It is a pretty big chip...
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    The reason why idle is unimportant for desktop is that both companies processors idle at such an insignificant amount.

    The Amd a10 idles 7 watts lower than the i3 and i5.

    1 watt used 24 hours a day 7 days a week is 8.76 kWh thus we are talking about 61.32 kWh (7*8.76) a year. The cost per kWh is different in differnt places in the US but it is about 10 cents a kWh so we are talking about 6 dollars more a less in energy savings a year.

    Aka talking about idle power is a virtually insignificant number for desktops. Now for laptops on the other hand it is a big deal for laptop idle power use affects battery life.
    Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    If it's 8.76 kWh per week, should you be multiplying by 52 weeks in a year? Thus 455.52 kWh per year? Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    1 watt *1000 hours equals 1 Kilowatt hour which is abbreviated 1 kWh

    24 hours a day *365 days per year equals 8760 hours or 8.76 kWh

    I should have said 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I apologize for leaving off the 52 weeks a year part it was a slip of the tongue.
    Reply

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