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Feature Articles
AMD Trinity APU - A Notebook Platform Performance Review
By Vijay Anand, Leo Boon Yeow & James Lu - 15 May 2012,8:00pm

Performance Benchmarking: PCMark 7 and 3DMark 11

Performance Benchmarking

We've managed to put the AMD Trinity reference notebook through a series of benchmarks and pitted the scores against last year's AMD Llano notebook platform, as well as a fairly recent Ivy Bridge notebook, the recently updated HP Pavilion dv6. Do take note that the Trinity reference notebook only makes use of its APU's integrated Radeon HD 7660G graphics. According to AMD, it should perform no different from a discrete mobile Radeon HD 7660M graphics unit and that sounds fairly encouraging to compete with our line-up. The one aspect that might throw off initial performance numbers is that the AMD Trinity notebook is equipped with an SSD drive while the rest of the comparisons are using normal hard disk drives.

Take note that the AMD Llano reference platform is equipped with a discrete graphics module and it even has an option of pairing up the discrete graphics with its integrated graphics core using the CrossFire option. Unfortunately though, we were unable to get more updated drivers to get CrossFire working. Since AMD's desktop drivers will also not work with the mobile Llano platform, we’ve just tested the Llano’s discrete and Integrated graphics capabilities separately.

While we're on the topic of graphics options in each platform, on the Ivy Bridge platform, we've got the HP dv6 that sports an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics module. The notebook was tested with integrated and discrete graphics options for most scenarios.

To augment these various notebooks mentioned above, we've also decided to throw in another interesting comparison point with the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 - a notebook with a dual-core mobile Sandy Bridge processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M discrete GPU. It would be interesting to see how the top mobile Triniy A10-4600M APU copes with this combination.

Test Notebooks Compared
Specifications/Notebook AMD Trinity
(reference machine)
AMD Llano
(reference machine)
HP Pavilion dv6 Acer Aspire Timeline
Ultra M3
Processor AMD A10-4600M AMD A8-3500M Intel Core i7-3610QM
Intel Core i5-2467M
Chipset  AMD A70M AMD A70M Intel HM77 Intel HM77
Memory  4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 8GB DDR3  4GB DDR3
Storage  120GB SSD 250GB HDD 750GB HDD 500GB HDD with SSD cache
Video  AMD Radeon HD 7660G AMD Radeon HD 6620G Intel HD 4000 / NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
Battery 53Wh 58Wh 62Wh  55WH


PCMark 7

PCMark 7 tests a system’s overall performance. Our AMD Trinity notebook was a strong performer here, helped mainly by its excellent System Storage score thanks to its SSD drive. This would also influence most of the other results, so this benchmark isn't really ideal to figure out exactly the performance advantage provided by the Trinity APU. However, when put against a much more powerful quad-core, Ivy Bridge equipped HP DV6, the Trinity was still coping well, averaging a 15% lead in all tests - although again much of that is the result of the Trinity’s SSD compared to the DV6’s HDD.

The results are a little more interesting when compared against the Acer Timeline Ultra M3 as it uses an Intel Sandy Bridge CPU, discrete graphics and a hybrid storage drive. As a result of its improved storage subsystem, you can see it compete better with the SSD equipped AMD Trinity platform. In the end, AMD still has the upper hand, but we can't be totally certain until we get more notebooks to compare them on a more even playing field.



3DMark 11

Our AMD Trinity notebook is equipped with AMD’s Radeon HD 7660G integrated graphics processor, which features new improvements including second generation DirectX 11 support, an improved tessellation unit with enhanced thread management, improved support for Anti-Aliasing and DirectCompute - compared to the Llano platform's AMD Radeon HD 6620G integrated graphics that dates back to the Redwood GPU cores (Radeon HD 5500/5600-class but updated with a UVD3 engine). While IGPs generally trail behind discrete GPUs, as you can see from the results below, there are definitely improvements in this area as the Trinity’s Radeon HD 7660G managed to hold a 20% increase in performance compared to both the IGP and discrete GPU of the Llano platform notebook.

Needless to say, AMD still has an edge over Intel when it comes to integrated graphics, with the Radeon HD 7660G outperforming the HP machine's Intel HD Graphics 4000 by 40% on 3DMark 11’s Entry preset and by a staggering 80% on the Performance preset. In fact, Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 was only competitive with AMD’s previous generation Radeon HD 6620G graphics on the Entry preset, and still fell significantly behind on the Performance preset at 45%.

Against more powerful discrete graphics engines, the new AMD Trinity APU lost out to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 and 650M by a large margin (by 50% or more). Unlike discrete graphics that usually have their own speedy video memory, integrated graphics engines rely on the speed of the system memory. This discrepancy and because the benchmark also factor in CPU's performance is a reason for the gap noticed in this benchmark. On the next page, we find out how they fare in real world games


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