AMD Trinity: Going Mobile with a New APU

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 14, 2012
Product Name: AMD Trinity APU
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Trinity’s Position in Today’s Market

Currently, the notebook and desktop market are dominated by Intel’s Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge architectures. AMD mounted a valiant effort last year with their Llano and Bulldozer architectures but ultimately fell short of their goals and some people’s expectations. The new 2012 lineup on the other hand is supposed to bring their products into a more competitive position against alternatives from Intel.

AMD’s upcoming product stack should look familiar to you since it virtually mirrors last year’s, with the new A10-series APUs being the sole exception. As usual, the eight core FX-series –with updated Piledriver cores- will take the lead in high end desktop and mobile gaming systems. The A10-series of APUs will follow closely behind with four cores, support for the open source HD3D stereoscopic 3D environment and will represent the highest end designation for Trinity-series APUs. Both of these products are meant to deliver outstanding performance without costing a fortune.

Going slightly down-market we have the A8 and A6 APUs which continue the tradition of Llano by offering affordable options in the mainstream notebook and desktop markets. Naturally, they’ll offer a full array of features but in a more efficient package. With the exception of the A4-series, all APUs will have support for Turbo Core, Dual Graphics and in some cases (for desktop systems only) will have the “K” branding, allowing for unlocked overclocking.

The A4-series doesn’t have as lofty goals but it should still be considered a feature rich architecture with support for up to four displays, AMD’s HD Media Accelerator and a number of GPU compute add-ons like Steady Video 2.0 technology. For the time being, AMD isn’t officially announcing any A4 APUs but expect them to make it to market within the next few months.

Unfortunately, AMD was not able to provide us with a non-watermarked image

Finally, in a trailing position is the new Brazos 2.0, an encore presentation of the original Brazos. It improves upon its predecessor in a number of key areas but retains the same Zacate-based architecture with some key revisions. There’s a faster HD 7000-series graphics subsystem (which is actually a rebranded HD 6000-series core), slightly higher clock speeds and a number of connectivity additions which bring Brazos 2.0 up to a standard that reflects current market realities. Most importantly, power requirements have been optimized, resulting in battery life that can exceed 10 hours in some cases. For anyone looking for a sub-notebook, this is one you’ll want to watch out for.

We mentioned in our long-winded introduction that AMD’s isn’t trying to compete against higher end Intel offerings. As such, the flagship A10 series’ x86 performance will likely land somewhere between the i7 and i5 processors while the A8 APUs will target the i5/i3 market position. The A6 and A4 meanwhile are supposed to take advantage of a perceived gap between the Core i3 and Pentium products.

Naturally, the Brazos 2.0 E1 and E2-series round out the new lineup and will concentrate upon the entry level price points. The only constant between AMD’s outgoing and incoming product stacks is the C series which marks a continuation of the older Brazos 1.0 Ontario-based architecture and should compete against Intel’s nearly defunct Atom series.

AMD’s Trinity lineup may not represent a new, game changing level of x86 performance, nor is it particularly efficient when compared against similar Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge products but these new APUs do offer a distinct price advantage for OEMs. For example, the HP Sleekbook we talked about will sell for about between $599 and $699 while most Intel-based Ultrabooks easily hit the $999 mark. When combined with Trinity’s expanded feature set and enhanced graphics capabilities, AMD could be in the process of moving the entire mobile market forward by a few steps.

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