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APU Enhanced Software And The User Experience

AMD A10-4600M Review: Mobile Trinity Gets Tested
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Perhaps you’ve seen some of our recent efforts to work with AMD to explore today’s state of general-purpose compute acceleration, such as What Does DirectCompute Really Mean For Gamers? and OpenCL In Action: Post-Processing Apps, Accelerated. We have more of those stories planned. But, to be perfectly honest, I never felt very compelled by the potential of accelerated apps until I saw the stuff currently being worked-on at AMD’s Trinity briefing.

A number of applications able to run on any OpenCL-enabled product, along with some others optimized for AMD-specific features, are either already available or nearly ready.

In many cases, the improvements being folded in are qualitative, not quantitative. As a result, we can’t really benchmark them. This is the stuff we talked about on page one of this story, which AMD is hoping people will think about when it comes time to buy. Let’s consider some of the applications that Tom’s Hardware readers might use.

AMD Steady Video

Steady Video is a real-time video enhancement tool that can help reduce the shaky effect of poorly-recorded video. It’s also AMD’s poster child for APP acceleration. The feature’s benefits are easy to understand when you them in action. AMD now has Steady Video 2.0 plugins for IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Windows Media Player.

Is this a must-have feature? Does it make sense to skip Intel’s Quick Sync technology in favor of this piece of software? I don’t think so. As cool as it is, most of the content that I, personally, watch isn’t shaky home video. In fact, I’m not even sure I’d use it. Nevertheless, AMD’s application of technology is unquestionably cool to watch in action. Check out a demo by searching the Web for ”AMD Steady Video.”

VLC Media Player

This is an open source, cross-platform, free multimedia player. AMD’s support for VLC is smart, since its open source foundation means there is a large user base that stands to benefit from acceleration support.  Optimizations include a real-time OpenCL-based de-noise filter and support for AMD Steady Video. Again, neither addition is a must-have feature, but they’re there in development for VLC users who want to try them out.

WinZip 16.5

This is probably the highest-profile software available with OpenCL-based enhancements, and our testing shows that acceleration makes a real difference in compression performance. Corel’s cooperation seems like real win for AMD, though a closer look at the benchmark results reveals that the company’s best effort still isn’t able to overtake Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture. Essentially, we’re presented with a feature that brings A10-4600M compression performance very close to the Core i5-2450M. The inclusion of acceleration seems less impressive when it’s needed to achieve parity with the competition.

We’re also compelled to call AMD out on this one. The whole point of a standard like OpenCL is industry-wide adoption. However, because AMD worked with Corel on enabling OpenCL support, both companies are locking out Intel and Nvidia. Although AMD’s fans won’t mind, were the roles in this drama reversed, there would be an outcry. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the outcome remains pretty darned even.

Media Encode Acceleration – OpenCL and VCE

Arcsoft’s MediaConverter 7.5, CyberLink’s MediaEspresso 6.5, and the x264 front-end HandBrake (in an upcoming revision) are all able to take advantage of AMD’s programmable shader hardware and fixed-function VCE logic for accelerated video transcoding. The feature is great for AMD owners. Unfortunately, the improved performance isn’t quite as fast as Intel’s Quick Sync capability, according to our test data.

MotionDSP vReveal

This video-quality enhancement application is an ideal showcase for AMD Steady Video and GPU-accelerated rendering. The worst thing I can say about this tool, which has some very high-end roots, is that it’s limited to a very specific purpose and might not appeal to a wide audience. If you rely on vReveal to fix the quality of your captured video on a regular basis, however, an AMD-based APU or discrete card might make sense.

Photoshop CS6

Photoshop CS6 makes use of over 30 GPU-accelerated features, including liquefy, transform, warping, and blur rendering. Depending on the work you do in Adobe’s software, you may not run into those features very often at all. But when you do need those specific features, OpenCL-based acceleration can make a big difference.

The caveat, of course, is that GPU acceleration works on any OpenCL-enabled device, including Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 engine, tested in this piece. In our experience, real-time filters like liquefy actually work faster on the Core i5-2450M compared to the A10-4600M. The moral of this story: don’t assume an APU is faster just because the app has GPU acceleration.

GIMP

Another popular open source application, GIMP is an image manipulation program in the same vein as Photoshop that also boasts powerful features and a large user base. An upcoming release adds support for 19 accelerated OpenCL filters. We didn’t have time to run this one first-hand, and it won’t be publically available for a while yet. So, we don’t have any experiential feedback. But it is great to see the open source community on-board.

Adobe Flash Player 11

Flash has an immense user base, and the newest version of this plug-in includes support for 3D graphics

We checked out Tanki Online and the Unreal Engine 3 Flash demos, and were extremely impressed at the detail that Flash achieves in a browser window.

Keep in mind that Flash is accelerated by any GPU though, and although AMD APUs tend to be stronger, we noticed that Intel HD Graphics 3000 was also sufficient to run the demos we mentioned.

AMD Quick Stream Technology

This is a proprietary application that prioritizes Internet traffic to ensure that video streams are given preferential treatment, minimizing stuttering. It’s a great idea that I hadn’t previously seen implemented specifically for video streaming. and I don’t think I’ve seen it done specifically for video streaming yet. Having said that, I have used freeware network bandwidth prioritizing utilities in the past with positive results.

Game Image Quality

For most gamers, image quality is an important consideration, and Intel has a bad reputation for delivering less-than-stellar visuals—particularly poor anisotropic filtering.  Although SemiAccurate reports that the situation is much improved on Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge still suffers from terrible filtering quality.

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Top Comments
  • 41 Hide
    cleeve , May 15, 2012 3:18 PM
    duckwithnukesWhere is the Intel HD 4000 vs. AMD Trinity comparison? Lazy reviewing at its finest.


    A10-4600M laptops will be int eh $600-$700 neighborhood, and we're still waiting for Ivy bridge Core i5 to arrive in this price range.

    We go over this. We also talk about how we'll do a follow up as soon as an appropriate product is available.

    You need to read for it to make sense.
  • 34 Hide
    fazers_on_stun , May 15, 2012 3:58 PM
    ^ ^ Anandtech reviewed the A10-4660M with its HD7660G igp vs. the i7-3720QM with its HD4K igp and over a total of 15 games, the 7660G averaged 20% faster than the HD4K. Against the Llano 6620G igp, it was just short of 20% faster. Against the HD3K (Sandy Bridge igp), it was a whopping 80% faster. So, the conclusion is that if you want mobile gaming on a budget laptop, Trinity is the way to go...
  • 32 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , May 15, 2012 2:47 PM
    Hope its only the beginning of much more
Other Comments
  • 32 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , May 15, 2012 2:47 PM
    Hope its only the beginning of much more
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2012 3:08 PM
    Based on this, gaming is much better than old i5, but everything else including application performance is still better on the old Sandy architecture. I'm not really sure why I would buy a Trinity other than for a casual gaming laptop. Unfortunately, budget says that my laptops have to be used for business first, play time later.
  • 8 Hide
    beenthere , May 15, 2012 3:11 PM
    Nice to see that Trinity and AMD have delivered the goods. I want a Trinity powered Ultrathin. Intel can stick their crap where the Sun don't shine.

    BTW, Charlie @ SemiAccurate is not an AMD fanbois IME. He just calls it like it is. Reality bites sometimes be it Nvidia, AMD or Intel's problems. Denial never changes reality. It is what it is.
  • 41 Hide
    cleeve , May 15, 2012 3:18 PM
    duckwithnukesWhere is the Intel HD 4000 vs. AMD Trinity comparison? Lazy reviewing at its finest.


    A10-4600M laptops will be int eh $600-$700 neighborhood, and we're still waiting for Ivy bridge Core i5 to arrive in this price range.

    We go over this. We also talk about how we'll do a follow up as soon as an appropriate product is available.

    You need to read for it to make sense.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2012 3:19 PM
    FlippyFlap, Apple doesn't use AMD and an HD4000 can power a retina display. I'm sure Apple has worked with Intel engineers to get the drivers right for retina displays which is HD4000's problem. HD4000 is still lacking in terms of driver support (one can see that from the OpenCL benches around the net where only 1/2 get acclerated on HD4000). When the drivers work right, there isn't much difference between Ivy and Trinity.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2012 3:21 PM
    I agree with Cleeve and I personally hate comparing a reference system to a selling system anyway. Review 2 actual selling systems with similar parts and that gives you the benchmark.
  • 15 Hide
    DRosencraft , May 15, 2012 3:29 PM
    This looks like a very nice effort from AMD. I really, really need to replace my notebook. It's a six year old Toshiba Satelite with an AMD 1.9 GHz Turion 64 X2 with intergrated X2100 graphics.... yeah. Ancient now, I know. I've been trying to figure out a sweet spot in power since my needs are kind of complex. Typically I don't need it to do much more than handle MSOffice and web surfing. But I also tend to use it for video gaming when am interesting game comes around and some work in PaintShop when I'm out of the house, or don't feel like sitting at my desktop. This may be a little closer to what I'd like. It would be nice to get a notebook that combines this with a really good discrete card (sort of like how some MacBook Pros have their dual graphics setup). Nevertheless, Trinity looks to be just about enough power and performance, but the question is price. If tradition holds, it should be a good price competitor with Intel, which is the most important part, otherwise I'd just buy a core I7 already.

    In a related question, does Trinity's details and specs lead to any conclusions about what Piledriver desktop processors will be like?
  • -7 Hide
    neoverdugo , May 15, 2012 3:33 PM
    So this means that AMD can kick Intel's ass in the gpu department for the moment while AMD suffers greatly in the CPU portion of the apu battle. Didn't I said before that Intel is trying to make an (proprietary) Intel only PC with no third party strings attached? We all know that there is no competition in the CPU battle when it comes to Intel. Still, i would like to see that the morons of intel to drop the price of their hardware for once and for all and drop ridiculously low end hardware out of production.
  • 2 Hide
    dgingeri , May 15, 2012 3:54 PM
    No WoW benchmarks this time? I was wondering if this might make a good laptop for WoW, but you guys failed me. :( 
  • 34 Hide
    fazers_on_stun , May 15, 2012 3:58 PM
    ^ ^ Anandtech reviewed the A10-4660M with its HD7660G igp vs. the i7-3720QM with its HD4K igp and over a total of 15 games, the 7660G averaged 20% faster than the HD4K. Against the Llano 6620G igp, it was just short of 20% faster. Against the HD3K (Sandy Bridge igp), it was a whopping 80% faster. So, the conclusion is that if you want mobile gaming on a budget laptop, Trinity is the way to go...
  • 4 Hide
    blazorthon , May 15, 2012 4:04 PM
    AMD is stuck with~1333MT/s for this, so they get screwed over in the reviews because they are stuck with lower frequency RAM... Hopefully, this problem will be fixed and they will be able to use 1600MT/s and 1866MT/s with the notebooks that hit the markets. Honestly, I'm a little under-whelmed by Trinity... I was hoping for more. Granted, it is on the same process, so that it is significantly faster and uses less power than it's predecessor that uses the same process is a pretty substantial gain, but still... I was expecting a little more. It might just be the memory frequency problem.
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2012 4:05 PM
    neoverdugo

    just a side note, what you described is not an apu, it's a cpu with on die gfx. AMD's apu have not hit their full stride yet, once we have mature implementation of gpu assisted processing (opencl directcl et al) then the disparity may become significantly less, AMD strategy was always to leverage the massive computing power of the gfx core to bolster cpu performance in areas other than gaming unfortunately there was a fragmentation of the market with competing standards, once all that mess gets sorted out AMD can really flex the power of the apu
  • 12 Hide
    cleeve , May 15, 2012 4:24 PM
    Quote:
    AMD is stuck with~1333MT/s for this, so they get screwed over in the reviews because they are stuck with lower frequency RAM...


    Hey Blaze:

    Llano's BIOS was uncooperative and limited the memory to 1333, but Trinity was benched at 1600 MHz. :) 

    - Cleeve
  • 12 Hide
    Wisecracker , May 15, 2012 4:28 PM

    CleeveA10-4600M laptops will be int eh $600-$700 neighborhood, and we're still waiting for Ivy bridge Core i5 to arrive in this price range.We go over this. We also talk about how we'll do a follow up as soon as an appropriate product is available.You need to read for it to make sense.


    I hope you are wrong :) 

    A10-4600M laptops in $600-$700 neighborhood in dual graphics with a Radeon HD 7670M, please.



  • -8 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2012 4:29 PM
    Actually just A10 get the 7660G igp, the rest of the line get reduced version like A8 with 7640G while all the ivy mobile version equipped with HD 4000. A review on computerbase.de shows that HD 4000 totally outperform 7640G. So if you want mobile gaming on amd laptop, A10 is the only way to go.
  • 11 Hide
    CaedenV , May 15, 2012 4:45 PM
    So with HD3000 being ~1/2 the GPU horse power of Trinity, and HD4000 being ~2x as powerful as HD3000 I guess that Intel will be slightly behind Trinity on gaming, while still holding the crown for all other performance metrics. All that is left to be seen is what kind of premium you will have to pay for the new IB laptops compared to the Trinity ones. Can't wait to see a review of both platforms in a head-to-head competition! I'm still an Intel fan boy at heart, but I would love nothing more than for AMD to give Intel a run for their money again :) 

    @Flap
    It is not hard to push high resolution displays for most things. People have been using extremely old Matrox GPUs (g450 and g550) to do 4 high res monitors for ~10 years now with no issues. the problem comes when you want to game on that high resolution screen, and honestly neither side has a good solution for that yet. But at the same time, Macs are really not made with games in mind (other than web content which I am sure both Trinity and HD4000 would be more than capable of displaying).

    @article
    AMD is absolutely right; there are uses of a product that cannot be measured by benchmarks. However, the more interesting thing to me is what we are seeing in the desktop game benchmarks, that is slowly reaching into other areas of processing (and what we have seen in media playback benchmarks for years... or rather why we no longer have media playback benchmarks), where there is a level of speed impracticality.
    For gaming on a 60FPS monitor, it no longer matters if you are running 61+FPS because you simply do not see it, and anything above 30FPS is generally considered 'acceptable'.
    For office work on an SSD it does not matter if it takes your computer .5sec to open Word on a 5 year old PC, or .2sec on a new PC because there is simply no time for the human mind to react so quickly to move from the mouse to the keyboard and start typing. And anything slower than an SSD will rely on the bottleneck of the HDD anyways, making the CPU a moot point.
    The same goes for browsing the web where your internet speed is so slow (even on 'fast' internet connections) that there is no practical/perceivable difference between running an old system vs a brand spanking new system (much less AMD vs Intel).
    Media playback is another area where so long as you reach the requisite 12-30fps (depending on the source material) it does not matter if you are running on an Atom, or a high end duel 2011 platform. there is simply no difference so long as you reach a specific threshold of 'good enough' for the specific application
    For larger projects of video editing, 3D design, mass data compression, etc. There is still a need for benchmarks, but the markets that need these high demand applications for everyday use are willing to shell out the money for whatever is fastest because the lost productivity time is much more expensive than the hardware investment (and 'the fastest' hardware is not expensive like it use to be for end-user workstations).
    The point is that we need to find a new way to benchmark that looks at threshold requirements like we do with gaming benchmarks where there is a threshold of usefulness, and a threshold of imperceptible performance gains, and then finding a way to compare the relative usefulness of 'unbenchmarkable' feature sets (Like the value of CUDA vs Direct Compute, hardware based acceleration for specific software titles, and proprietary features such as Intel's Lightpeak/Thunderbolt technology). I think it means an evolution of doing hardware-centric benchmarks to more use-centric benchmarks, and even specific title benchmarks.
    As an example: What does it look like to use Adobe premiere on an AMD or Intel platform of similar cost? What features are available on one platform over the other? What performance gains are made by adding an SSD/RAID or dedicated GPU to the system? And which platforms use these additions most effectively? What types of tasks run better or worse on each platform (Is one better at specific filters than others? Is one better for production use while the other is better at exporting a final product?)?
    We are getting to a point where what matters more is the feature set/limitations of the motherboard and platform, than the speed of any individual component on the platform when it comes to the final experience of the end user. There is still a need for specific part reviews, but AMD is right; the individual parts many times do not paint an accurate picture for the speed or usefulness of a platform, and it is a trend that will only become more pronounced with time.
  • -9 Hide
    blazorthon , May 15, 2012 4:46 PM
    CleeveHey Blaze:Llano's BIOS was uncooperative and limited the memory to 1333, but Trinity was benched at 1600 MHz. - Cleeve


    Well, that's even worse. Trinity just doesn't seem like a good enough leap over Llano.
  • 8 Hide
    blazorthon , May 15, 2012 4:48 PM
    The noobActually just A10 get the 7660G igp, the rest of the line get reduced version like A8 with 7640G while all the ivy mobile version equipped with HD 4000. A review on computerbase.de shows that HD 4000 totally outperform 7640G. So if you want mobile gaming on amd laptop, A10 is the only way to go.


    Intel's graphics gets weaker on lower end models... For example, the HD 3000 on the i7s is FAR faster than the HD 3000 on the i3s and is considerably faster than the HD 3000 on the i5s (although even within each family, there can be differences, all of this is because although they have the same graphics hardware, the clock frequency of the IGP differs). The same is probably true for the HD 4000. The cheaper i5s and i3s will probably have weaker graphics performance than the top i5s and the i7s do.
  • 0 Hide
    deanjo , May 15, 2012 4:58 PM
    Quote:
    and the x264 front-end HandBrake are all able to take advantage of AMD’s programmable shader hardware and fixed-function VCE logic for accelerated video transcoding.


    Ummm, no it can't. Handbrake is 100% cpu.
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