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Graphics: Fewer Shaders, Better Efficiency

AMD Trinity On The Desktop: A10, A8, And A6 Get Benchmarked!
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As Don pointed out in his mobile A10-4600M coverage, shifting Trinity to the VLIW4 architecture first found in AMD’s Radeon HD 6900-series cards allows it to deploy fewer shaders, but take better advantage of them. By then turning clock rate up or down (depending on thermal headroom), it’s able to improve performance without adding a lot of complexity to the APU itself.

At its most feature-complete, Trinity’s Devastator graphics processor includes as many as six SIMD engines, each with four texture units and 16 thread processors. There are four ALUs in each thread processor, adding up to 384 total shaders and 24 texture units.

Sliding down AMD’s stack, SIMD engines are gradually turned off and clock rates are dialed down to create differentiation. The A10s both have 384 shaders. The A8s lose two SIMDs (and eight texture units), creating a 256-shader component. AMD’s A6-5400K sports three SIMDs, totaling 192 shaders. And the A4 looks to be a 128-shader offering.

Dual Graphics

Like Llano, Trinity supports Dual Graphics configurations—cooperative rendering using the on-die Radeon engine and a discrete card of roughly comparable potency. Although I don’t have any of the models AMD lists in its support matrix, I did discover that a Radeon HD 6670 does the trick as well.

Our baseline blue bars represent the Radeon HD 7660D built into the A10-5800K APU. The green bars are our Radeon HD 6670 on its own. And the red bar is both graphics engines working cooperatively.

At 1280x720 there isn’t enough graphics load to let Dual Graphics shine before this platform runs into a processor bottleneck. The gap opens up at 1680x1050, though, and continues to show off the benefit of Dual Graphics at 1920x1080, where the integrated Radeon HD 7660D and Radeon HD 6670 average almost 100 FPS.

Discrete GPU
Desktop APU
Discrete Graphics Code-Name
Radeon Product Name
Recommended Memory
A6-Series
HD 7540D
A8-Series
HD 7560D
A10-Series
HD 7660D
Desktop Configurations
Turks XT
HD 7670
GDDR5
Discrete Available
Discrete RecommendedDiscrete Recommended
Turks Pro
HD 7570
GDDR5Discrete AvailableDiscrete RecommendedDiscrete Recommended
Turks Pro
HD 7570
DDR3
Discrete Recommended
Discrete RecommendedDiscrete Recommended
Caicos XT
HD 7470
DDR3Discrete RecommendedDiscrete AvailableDiscrete Available
Caicos Pro
HD 7450
DDR3Discrete AvailableNo Discrete (APU-Only)
No Discrete (APU-Only)
All-in-One Configurations
Onega LP
HD 7670A
GDDR5Discrete RecommendedDiscrete RecommendedDiscrete Recommended
Onega LP
HD 7650A
DDR3Discrete RecommendedDiscrete RecommendedDiscrete Recommended
Caspian XT
HD 7470A
DDR3Discrete RecommendedDiscrete AvailableDiscrete Available
Caspian Pro
HD 7450A
DDR3Discrete AvailableNo Discrete (APU-Only)No Discrete (APU-Only)
Cedar
HD 7350A
DDR3No Discrete (APU-Only)No Discrete (APU-Only)No Discrete (APU-Only)


We also benchmarked Batman: Arkham City using the Low quality setting preset and found that performance actually slid backward with Dual Graphics enabled. The version of the driver we tested, however, still doesn't offer Dual Graphics support in anything but DirectX 11 applications. You don't get DX 11 features in Batman until you choose a higher preset. Fortunately, AMD has a beta driver (Catalyst 12.6) that adds DirectX 9 compatibility, too. We didn't have time to give it a spin before today's piece, but it's something we'll follow-up on.

What we do know from WoW is that Dual Graphics has serious potential on this platform. Notably, the setup process is significantly easier than it was back when I evaluated Llano. You simply plug in the discrete card, keep your display attached to the on-board GPU, and install the drivers. Dual Graphics even gets enabled automatically now.

Display Connectivity

Another advantage that Trinity holds over Llano is Eyefinity support. The new APU includes four display controllers, whereas its predecessor only included two. That means you can do three- or four-way monitor configurations, providing you use the right combination of outputs. Four screens, for example, require DisplayPort 1.2 multi-streaming on at least one output. A trio of screens is easier. You can use two non-DisplayPort panels, plus one DisplayPort- or VGA-equipped screen as the third.

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  • 30 Hide
    Youngmind , June 14, 2012 4:38 AM
    This is so exciting! AMD is probably going to dominate the lower-end and give the poor gamers like me more bang-for-buck as their IGP get better and better :) !
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , June 14, 2012 4:54 AM
    Well, where are the Ivy/Sandy i5's and i3's???

    Once they are pitted against each other, that will be A TRUE measure of the APU Trinity's marketability
  • 22 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 14, 2012 4:26 AM
    Nice scoop, Chris!
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 14, 2012 4:26 AM
    Nice scoop, Chris!
  • 30 Hide
    Youngmind , June 14, 2012 4:38 AM
    This is so exciting! AMD is probably going to dominate the lower-end and give the poor gamers like me more bang-for-buck as their IGP get better and better :) !
  • 21 Hide
    dudewitbow , June 14, 2012 4:42 AM
    depending on how its priced, its a really nice alternative for bare budget gaming that opens up a quad core as well
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , June 14, 2012 4:45 AM
    I can't WAIT for this, HAIL AMD!!!!
  • 12 Hide
    dudewitbow , June 14, 2012 4:53 AM
    JiggerByteSo this means that a 'Crossfired' Trinity APU would beat ANY similarly-priced Intel (CPU+discrete GPU) ???Well at least in gaming


    really the question is what gpus are able to hybrid crossfire with it. the information was never public. not all amd gpus will hybrid crossfire with it.
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , June 14, 2012 4:54 AM
    Well, where are the Ivy/Sandy i5's and i3's???

    Once they are pitted against each other, that will be A TRUE measure of the APU Trinity's marketability
  • 13 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 14, 2012 4:56 AM
    in the OpenCL Winzip benchmark, when openCL is enabled the workload is done only by the iGPU or the CPU as well ?

    i mean what is the processor usage during the benchmark ? are all CPU cores used? or only one?
  • 12 Hide
    cangelini , June 14, 2012 4:57 AM
    mayankleoboy1in the OpenCL Winzip benchmark, when openCL is enabled the workload is done only by the iGPU or the CPU as well ?i mean what is the processor usage during the benchmark ? are all CPU cores used? or only one?

    Good question--I'll take a look for you.
  • 13 Hide
    monkeymonk , June 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    This is awesome. Glad to hear pile driver is making improvements.
  • 6 Hide
    bawchicawawa , June 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    dudewitbowreally the question is what gpus are able to hybrid crossfire with it. the information was never public. not all amd gpus will hybrid crossfire with it.


    It was public... It will crossfire with up to the 7670, which is a rebranded 6670 from what i know, but with some slight improvements.

  • 10 Hide
    bawchicawawa , June 14, 2012 5:05 AM
    Next stop is to overclock and bench the a10-5800k with some nice 1866-2100 memory. Also some dual gpu action with these apu's.
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , June 14, 2012 5:06 AM
    Intel fanboy here but I'd really hope AMD catches up this time, coz once they fail, it'll be all over for us consumers, we can't afford Intel to dictate their ultra-ridiculous pricing scheme yet again, in these tough economic times, fewer and fewer people can afford a 200-dollar CPU, so, PLEASE AMD, don't fail us again
  • 8 Hide
    shin0bi272 , June 14, 2012 5:16 AM
    Randy WestWell, where are the Ivy/Sandy i5's and i3's???Once they are pitted against each other, that will be A TRUE measure of the APU Trinity's marketability


    Thats what I was wondering... every time you get an intel cpu review they always throw in an amd or two for comparison. Why didnt they do that here? Cant make an informed purchase if you compare 3 versions of the same car make and model when there are other makes and models out there to look at.

    Oh and Jill... amd only has 10% of the market even with the APU's out there. So if they fail intel only goes from 89-99% of the market... dont see them changing their pricing plans over that.
  • 12 Hide
    cangelini , June 14, 2012 5:18 AM
    bawchicawawaNext stop is to overclock and bench the a10-5800k with some nice 1866-2100 memory. Also some dual gpu action with these apu's.

    Dual Graphics is actually in there ;-)
  • 4 Hide
    bawchicawawa , June 14, 2012 5:19 AM
    shin0bi272Thats what I was wondering... every time you get an intel cpu review they always throw in an amd or two for comparison. Why didnt they do that here? Cant make an informed purchase if you compare 3 versions of the same car make and model when there are other makes and models out there to look at.


    Because this is an article of amd's apus. They've already done a comparison between trinity's igp's and intels 4000 series.
  • 15 Hide
    tonync_01 , June 14, 2012 5:37 AM
    Piledriver is looking good. I'm looking forward to the FX-8350.
  • 4 Hide
    esrever , June 14, 2012 5:48 AM
    Hope to see these in retail soon, I want to put together a budget box for general web surfing and HD video and I'd love a 65w trinity for it.
  • 19 Hide
    army_ant7 , June 14, 2012 5:56 AM
    I want to point out an observation. If in floating-point intensive applications, Trinity is negligibly worse than Llano, meaning they're pretty much the same. Doesn't that mean the 2 floating-points units (2 modules) of Piledriver are acting on par with the 4 (4 cores) of Llano?
    Anyone tell me if I'm wrong and why.

    EDIT: Oh wait, they're clocked higher, but not by that much, though it is substantial. I would think it's still a big architectural improvement.

    Also, I've noticed that in multiple articles, the writers are strapped for time. This isn't good though it could be understandable. Maybe TH should hire more "hands" or something?
    I'm not sure how we'll find out when that video mentioned of the comparison with the A8-3870K and the i3-2100/2105 would show up. Well, unless we constantly check back.

    Don't worry TH, you haven't lost me as a fan. It's just constructive feedback. I love you guys!
  • 15 Hide
    cangelini , June 14, 2012 6:09 AM
    army_ant7I want to point out an observation. If in floating-point intensive applications, Trinity is negligibly worse than Llano, meaning they're pretty much the same. Doesn't that mean the 2 floating-points units (2 modules) of Piledriver are acting on par with the 4 (4 cores) of Llano?Anyone tell me if I'm wrong and why.EDIT: Oh wait, they're clocked higher, but not by that much, though it is substantial. I would think it's still a big architectural improvement.Also, I've noticed that in multiple articles, the writers are strapped for time. This isn't good though it could be understandable. Maybe TH should hire more "hands" or something?I'm not sure how we'll find out when that video mentioned of the comparison with the A8-3870K and the i3-2100/2105 would show up. Well, unless we constantly check back.Don't worry TH, you haven't lost me as a fan. It's just constructive feedback. I love you guys!

    Don't worry--I'm working on the data right now. As it stood, this story took more than a week of all day/all night testing, troubleshooting, new BIOS installing, and re-testing to nail down. It can go on indefinitely if you let it ;-)
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