AMD Trinity On The Desktop: A10, A8, And A6 Get Benchmarked!

Memory Bandwidth Scaling: Feed The Beast

It used to be that memory controllers built into chipset northbridges played a key role in determining system performance, making the modules you’d drop in an important consideration as well. But processor-based controllers have done a lot to maximize throughput. Two-, three-, and four-channel implementations designed to address high-end server workloads are generally overkill on the desktop.

As a result, it’s been a really long time since we’ve encountered a processor architecture starved for bandwidth. That’s bad news for memory vendors, who charge a premium for modules rated for higher data rates at lower latencies. After all, if cheap DDR3-1333 gets the job done, why worry about a kit capable of DDR3-2800?

The answer is integrated graphics.

Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 engine is fast enough to reflect moderate scaling as memory bandwidth increases. Before that, the Llano-based A8 APUs also demonstrated acute sensitivity to system memory data rates, justifying higher-end modules. And now, with Trinity, we get a purportedly higher-end graphics processor that’ll undoubtedly need to be fed even faster in order to realize its potential.

In response, AMD officially adds support for up to DDR3-2133 with one module per channel, or DDR3-1866 in one- and two-module-per-channel configurations. In comparison, Llano topped out at DDR3-1600. (Update: AMD clarifies that desktop Trinity-based APUs will max out with DDR3-1866 support).

In the SiSoft Sandra tests you’ll see shortly, the Trinity-based APUs yield less memory bandwidth from our 16 GB DDR3-1600 kit than Llano. But let’s see what happens when we replace those modules with Kingston’s new KHX2800OC12D3T1K2/4GX kit of two DDR3-2800 modules.

Although we’re only using two modules for this specific test, the ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 motherboard serving as our test platform won’t boot above DDR3-1866, limiting the scope of our early testing. Attempt to run at DDR3-2133 using manual parameters, or DDR3-2800/2666 using pre-programmed settings simply wouldn’t work.

With that said, bandwidth doesn’t scale linearly, and gains are already tapering off by 1866 MT/s. We do, however, see AMD’s A10-5800K pick up modest bandwidth as data rates go up. How do those numbers correspond to a real-world gaming scenario?

Just as we were expecting, feeding Trinity with the right memory kit is going to make a huge difference in graphics-bound applications, in particular. And while the increases in average frame rate are great in World of Warcraft, the minimum frame rate numbers are even more meaningful. When performance dips to 21 FPS, it’s a totally different experience compared to 41 FPS.  

The situation isn’t as compelling in WinRAR, which has historically demonstrated more sensitivity to memory bandwidth than any other application in our suite. Performance scales well through DDR3-1333, but as timings have to be loosened, higher latencies counteract the bandwidth increase, and WinRAR hits a ceiling of sorts.

Of course, the thing to remember is that this is a preview. It seems pretty clear that Trinity-based APUs are going to benefit from fast memory kits able to feed their Radeon graphics engines. What we don’t yet know, though, is whether motherboard vendors will be able to tune their firmware for stable operation at even higher data rates, allowing us to push some of the newest enthusiast-oriented kits.

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    Top Comments
  • Youngmind
    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 :)!
    31
  • Anonymous
    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
    25
  • mayankleoboy1
    Nice scoop, Chris!
    22
  • Other Comments
  • mayankleoboy1
    Nice scoop, Chris!
    22
  • Youngmind
    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 :)!
    31
  • dudewitbow
    depending on how its priced, its a really nice alternative for bare budget gaming that opens up a quad core as well
    21
  • Anonymous
    I can't WAIT for this, HAIL AMD!!!!
    5
  • Anonymous
    So this means that a 'Crossfired' Trinity APU would beat ANY similarly-priced Intel (CPU+discrete GPU) ???
    Well at least in gaming
    -10
  • dudewitbow
    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.
    12
  • Anonymous
    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
    25
  • mayankleoboy1
    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?
    13
  • cangelini
    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.
    12
  • monkeymonk
    This is awesome. Glad to hear pile driver is making improvements.
    13
  • bawchicawawa
    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.
    6
  • bawchicawawa
    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.
    10
  • Anonymous
    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
    17
  • shin0bi272
    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.
    8
  • cangelini
    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 ;-)
    12
  • bawchicawawa
    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.
    4
  • tonync_01
    Piledriver is looking good. I'm looking forward to the FX-8350.
    15
  • esrever
    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.
    4
  • army_ant7
    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!
    19
  • cangelini
    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 ;-)
    15