AMD's 'Trinity' challenge to Intel's Ivy Bridge: Will it convince OEMs?

AMD's 'Trinity' challenge to Intel's Ivy Bridge: Will it convince OEMs?

Summary: Lower power consumption means less heat generated and longer battery life for mobile devices. Both of these are important to OEMs wanting to build thin and light devices.


AMD has officially lifted the lid on the first batch of second-generation A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs), codenamed "Trinity", which, on paper at any rate, seem to give Intel's Ivy Bridge silicon a real run for its money.

But can AMD convince the OEMs to jump on board the Trinity bandwagon?

AMD is launching five new APUs today. The A10-4600M, A8-4500M, and A6-4400M, which have been designed for notebooks systems, and the A10-4655M and A6-4455M that will find a home in ultrathin systems.

Trinity is the first outing for AMD's Piledriver architecture, a follow-on to the Bulldozer architecture which formed the basis of the FX range of processors. However, unlike Intel who switched to 22-nanometer architecture with Ivy Bridge, AMD is still using the older 32-nanometer architecture for Trinity. This means that in order to accommodate the 125 million extra transistors in the second-generation processors, the size of the die has had to increase significantly: from 228 mm² for the first-generation Llano A-series APUs, to 246 mm² for Trinity parts.

AMD has put a lot of work into making Trinity the ideal choice for OEMs building mobile systems. First, the power consumption -- measured in TDP -- for these parts has been cut from 35W and 45W for the first-generation dual- and quad-core APUs respectively, down to 17W for the dual-core Trinity APUs, and 35W for the quad-core APUs. These power consumptions are in line with Intel's Ivy Bridge parts.

Lower power consumption means less heat generated and longer battery life for mobile devices. Both of these are important to OEMs wanting to build thin and light devices. AMD claims that Trinity will allow OEMs to build mobile systems that could last up to 12 hours off a single charge.

But there's one area where Trinity has a clear advantage -- at least on paper --over Ivy Bridge, and that's the GPU. In benchmark tests carried out by AMD, the HD 7000 series GPU incorporated into Trinity has a clear lead over the Intel's Ivy Bridge GPU.

A more powerful GPU means better gaming, and better HD video quality. Also, because Trinity supports the OpenCL standard, this allows the GPU to be leveraged to carry out computational tasks. This allows third-party software such as Adobe Photoshop or the Flash Player plug-in to offload some of the work that would normally be carried out by the CPU onto the GPU.

AMD also claims that Trinity-powered hardware will be cheaper than equivalent Intel-powered systems, with thin and light systems starting at $699. If OEMs can deliver hardware at this price point then AMD-powered hardware will have a $100 advantage over similar Intel-powered systems.

AMD claims that big-name OEMs such as Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba, and Acer will unveil mobile systems based around Trinity shortly.

While it seems that AMD has silicon that rivals that of Intel, it remains to be see whether the company can persuade OEMs to use its parts. Intel, whose chips are used in some 80 percent of the world's PCs, is pushing for ultrabooks to be powered by its Ivy Bridge silicon. The company has invested some $300 million in an investment fund to help smaller companies develop technology to use in future ultrabooks, and expects that these devices will account for 40 percent of all consumer laptop sales by the holiday season.

Not only was Intel the first to market with Ivy Bridge, the company has enormous resources at its disposal to throw at convincing OEMs -- not to mention buyers -- that its silicon is the best choice.

AMD's ace up its sleeve with Trinity is the GPU. While Intel has the CPU market stitched up tight when it comes to CPUs, it's not a big name when it comes to GPU technology. AMD on the other hand has the Radeon line of GPUs that OEMs are familiar with and trust. If it can leverage its GPU relationship with the OEMs to push its APUs, then it is in a position where it could put pressure on Intel.

It's now down to the OEMs.


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Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel

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    You want 200% better graphics, go with AMD.

    You want 6% better productivity, go with Intel.

    Personally, I don't care if my Excel calculations run 6% faster if my Intel integrated graphics stu stu stu stuu ... stu stu... stutter when playing Youtube videos. That stinks.

    Intel's graphics still have a long way to go. Maybe they can catch up in two years??
    • GPU is not relevent for the 99% who are just doing email and facebook

      intels integrated graphics were good enough for these people even before they were improved with ivy bridge. and ivy bridge isnt intels big mobile play that amd should be shooting at. Thats broadwell. Id like to hear what amds counter to broadwell is. Intel however should take note of amds good work in getting to 17w at 32nm
      Johnny Vegas
      • email and facebook

        If that's all they are doing they might as well stick to their phone. Look at Apples latest improvements in the IPad and it was only for graphics and presentation.
      • Depends on the emails they get

        Even for those supposedly "only doing email and social networking", there's also the "online videos" and pictures. That's the majority that I see online: people sharing links to YouTube videos, or other online video. Having better graphics maybe isn't as important if you stick with the "small window preview" mode, but when you click on the "fullscreen button" & choose the "HD" version it can make a big difference.
      • Define "good enough"

        If you mean it displays text. Yeah sure.

        However people these days use Hulu, Netflix, HD.

        Good enough? Nah....
    • Intel Graphics aren't that bad

      Although I agree the AMD is clearly the superior choice, I did want to point out that Intel chips do fine. In my old laptop, I had an Intel GMA chip that would play all but HD youtube videos perfectly. Now, I have a Intel HD Graphics 3000 and an AMD Radeon 6990M, and the Intel will play any youtube video perfectly. Usually, I keep the laptop in power saving mode (using the Intel i7 2760QM and associated graphics and getting 6 hours of bettery with my 17" screen at full brightness) and don't notice the difference unless I start a game. Even then, my Sandy Bridge GPU can play Magic 2012 perfectly and Portal 2 on medium-high pretty well. I haven't tested other games, but I immagine they'd run fairly well. Remember, Ivy Bridge gpus are even better than my sandy bridge chip.
      Patrick Aupperle
      • Clearly superior for some things

        If you need parallelism, AMD chokes.
      • @Tea.Rollins

        That is interesting. I've never seriously used an AMD cpu, so my comment mostly pertained to the GPUs. If what you say is true, maybe the AMD isn't such a great choice.
        Patrick Aupperle
    • Fud

      When you're running at load and spanning tons of threads, the intel performance gain is more like 150% better performance. AMD chokes at load.

      Their GPUs, I won't even touch, they bluescreen half the systems I've installed them on and flat don't work on server OSes.
      • depends

        i have a 955BE, and it performs similar to a i5. Many compare with an i7, but the price difference is also there. Never used an Radeon, so dont know about that, but my friends having radeon are fine.
      • And how many consumers do that?

        I would say pretty few. I build and sell PCs and laptops and I can tell you that the average user isn't even stressing a Phenom I when it comes to compute cycles but they DO stress the GPU by playing HD content as well as all those FB games and other online gaming. Heck even for video transcoding my Phenom II X6 barely breaks a sweat and can convert a DVD in under 20 minutes while giving me plenty of cycles to surf and listen to music, so what jobs you think Joe and Jane Average have that is gonna stress these CPUs?
        PC builder
      • what AMD chip have you used

        I hate when people say stuff like this because it is just not at all true. If you like intel that is fine -I use both chips depending on what the customer wants-if top cpu performance is needed I use intel and give them that extra 6% -if they want the best bang for the buck they get AMD -there are no blue screens -ever and server software works fine -Like I say if you like intel that is fine but quit being a fan boi = you may as well be a apple freak
    • the only reason your youtube graphics

      stutter is if your network is slow.
      • Don't listen to the BS.

        I have a PC and a laptop. The PC has an AMD 9950 processor and Nvidia 460 graphics. I can run anything that comes my way, the system is about 5 years old and it runs great. I was in the beta for Ghost Recon online and my computer worked like a champ. On my laptop I'm running Windows 8 Consumer Preview and it has an Intel Pentium dual core processor and Intel graphics and it runs video fine, even Netflix at fullscreen. Hell I can even play Onlive high end games on my laptop.

        So when you see that sticker at Best Buy that says "get better graphics for video, be able to check mail faster" and all that other crap, thats what it is, crap to get people who don't know any better to buy higher end PC's than they really need.
    • I agree

      But I still stick with Nvidia for graphics, but AMD would be my second choice.

      Maybe Intel will catch up in two years? People have been saying maybe Intel will catch up for the past 10 years and they still haven't. Intel may never catch up and thats fine, they make good CPU's thats all we need is Intel catching up in the graphics market and putting stress on AMD and Nvidia and trying to make a monopoly in graphics as well.
      • AMD would be your second choice?

        If you're an Nvidia fanboy, pray tell us what other choice there is besides AMD/ATI Radeon???!!!!
  • OpenCL is a clear advantage for AMD even with 32nm.

    It's the size of the devices that comes into play now. Maybe we have reached a plateau?
  • Cost factor

    And also the cost factor - -
  • Most users care less about graphics

    The reality still is most people buy ultralights notebooks not for the graphics but for long battery life and weight reduction. Not many are worried about graphic power.
    The other reality is that Intel graphics are certainly good enough for HD video and even some online gaming. When I see the discount PC bins online its the AMD PC's that make up the biggest discounts. The real problem still for AMD is image and the ability to convince tpyical consumers who mostly see Intel marketing to give AMD a shot. The end game for AMD has always been to beat Intel on price in order to sell.
    • true

      I watch HD movies all the time using the graphics built into the i-3 chip. No problems at all. I've never seen it stutter.