Event Coverage

AMD Confidently Shares a Preview of the Upcoming Trinity APU Experience

By Vijay Anand - 13 Apr 2012

AMD Confidently Shares a Preview of AMD Trinity APU Experience

Trinity APUs and Ultrathin Notebooks Coming Soon!

This week, renowned tech media around the world (including HardwareZone) were given intimate insights showcasing the capabilities of AMD's Trinity APU and the nuts and bolts of its design. This is going to be AMD’s next big break following tepid response to the Bulldozer CPU architecture featured in the AMD FX processors.

The Trinity APU will be using a second revision of the Bulldozer architecture and will be a key proponent for ultrathin AMD platform based notebooks. While the Ontario and Zacate APUs from the Brazos platform is the company’s most well adopted of any platform to-date, the Sabine platform featuring the AMD Llano APU unfortunately met with severe shortage. As a result, we never really saw much of it in retail notebooks.

The Trinity APU has evolved much and is billed as the second generation APU. Built on the same 32nm bulk process (but now more matured), AMD has high hopes for it and is pulling out all stops to ensure it will give users a compelling reason to opt for its solution over the competition. To get that going, they are also working hard with key PC vendors and OEM/ODM systems providers to ensure good retail visibility and availability.

While all the technical details, features and performance results are under embargo for now and you’ll have to wait till mid-May for updates, what AMD has allowed to share at the moment is the experience of the AMD Trinity based notebook. Understanding that this class of products with the AMD Trinity APU are targeted at mainstream users, the company focused on improving end-user experience rather than focusing on raw benchmark numbers. A combination of the reasonably powerful graphics engine on the APU and accelerating applications enhanced with OpenCL API which AMD has been strongly pushing the software community in the background, they are able to improve what matters most for notebook users - the everyday tasks.

AMD set-up a simple ‘blind’ challenge to find out if the Trinity APU experience was better than the competition across three user scenarios.

To showcase this, AMD setup a ‘blind’ challenge with systems hidden away and the tech journalists are only faced with identical monitors and a custom-built start button to get the comparisons started at the same time on both an AMD Trinity based notebook and a somewhat identically configured Intel notebook. With three different scenarios touching upon office productivity, home video playback and file compression, here are the results in brief from gathering feedback from all the journalists who participated:-

To get the comparison going, we bashed on the start button which triggered a script across two systems to run simple benchmarks where we observed to see which system offered a better experience.

  Preferred Experience
Benchmarks and Description AMD Intel Undecided
Office Productivity A script capturing data input and manipulation in Microsoft Excel and Word. Also incorporates loading and using some intensive sites like www.apple.com among others in Internet Explorer. 80% 3.3% 16.7%
Home Video Playback Using latest VLC media player supporting AMD Steady Video 2.0 and using OpenCL to improve quality such as de-noising among others.  83.3% 10% 6.7%
File Compression Using latest WinZip 16.5 compression utility which has OpenCL acceleration built-in for speedier file compression. 86.7% 3.3% 10%

The results say it all that most participants (including ourselves) preferred the AMD Trinity system's experience. Now to put some perspective, these are findings from just a small sample of benchmarks used, of which most were running updated software benefiting from AMD's technologies or taking advantage of its built-in discrete-class graphics engine via the OpenCL API. While it may give AMD the upper hand, it also gives us an idea of the possibilities with the new AMD platform when the full set of features are exploited and put into good use.

So far it's looking positive as we found office productivity tasks loading and interacting a little faster and the same goes for file compression handling. For the video playback, it used a typical amateur home video clip and we noticed the AMD system applying post processing effects to improve color accuracy, remove noise and with AMD Steady Video technology, it even removed all the jerks and shakes normally associated with home videos. The Intel system on the other hand just played the video as-is. While the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge processors could pose a tougher challenge, most are confident in AMD's lead where graphics are concerned because of their experience in better hardware and software. Still, we’ll be testing all aspects personally to give you a verdict in the near future.

For those interested in the test setup of the blind-test systems used, we'll leave you with this photo:-

Remember, these are notebook systems, hence it's difficult to get truly directly comparable systems, but the comparison is close enough in our books. They are both estimated to cost around US$600.

We hope this update has given you some hope to get excited about AMD's next mainstream platform for both notebooks and desktops. While the Trinity APU is officially launching after mid-May, AMD expects more notebook offerings to be available from June onwards. The desktop counterparts will come in later in the third quarter of the year. So stay tuned for our full testing and experience report from our lab next month!

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