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

This story, a preview of AMD's Trinity-based A10, A8, and A6 families, was originally published on June 14, 2012. It was not condoned, supported or sponsored in any way by AMD. The piece appears here, unchanged, with the same information presented nearly four months ago.

About a month ago, AMD took the wraps off of its Trinity-based APU. Hotly-anticipated, all eyes turned to see how the second-generation amalgamation of x86 cores and graphics processing resources performed. Why were so many enthusiasts interested in a decidedly mainstream piece of hardware?

Let’s just say Trinity’s composition is…unique.

AMD’s new APU is the first component sporting its Piledriver x86 architecture. After the disappointment that was Bulldozer, which we first evaluated in FX-8150, hopes had to be pinned on a follow-up. And Trinity has it. Back when we were first briefed on Bulldozer, AMD showed us roadmaps with a new architectural revision pushing 10-15%-higher performance each year. Now, power users want to know if Trinity’s Piledriver-based cores deliver on the company's promise.

Moreover, Trinity employs a newer graphics architecture than Llano. Instead of the VLIW5 arrangement, which also sat at the heart of Radeon HD 6800 and older GPUs, it utilizes the VLIW4 design that went into AMD’s Radeon HD 6900-series cards. Everything after the 6900s swapped over to Graphics Core Next, so VLIW4 isn’t a very prolific implementation. But it’s supposed to be more efficient. Naturally, then, we all want to see how Trinity’s on-die GPU compares to what came before.

We’re Going Mobile, Mav

There was just one problem with last month’s introduction: it only covered the mobile implementation of Trinity.

That was the right move for AMD, no question. It doesn’t take a page of analysis to figure out how putting a CPU and GPU on the same piece of silicon can help address the physical, thermal, and power-oriented issues that laptop manufacturers have to overcome as they design new products.

But enthusiasts were left with questions. Most obviously, how might Piledriver be expected to behave in an FX-branded device? Does it ameliorate Bulldozer’s weaknesses? Given a similar 100 W ceiling on the desktop and the same 32 nm manufacturing process, does Piledriver/VLIW4 deliver an appreciable benefit compared to Stars/VLIW5?

Answering those questions requires the freedom to tweak and tune around in a motherboard BIOS. So, we got our hands on a trio of Trinity-based desktop APUs and set out to preview their performance.

I say preview because hardware based on the Trinity design isn’t going to be available in the channel until later this year. It has been reported that there are still a lot of Llano-based APUs out there, which AMD needs to sell off. So, it’s making Trinity available to OEMs designing notebooks and desktops in time for back-to-school. But you won’t be able to buy these chips for a while. Moreover, the motherboards supporting them with Socket FM2 interfaces aren’t fully-baked, either.

Meet The Desktop Trinity Line-Up


Radeon HD
GPU (MHz)
Shaders
TDP
Cores
Base CPU (GHz)
Turbo Core (GHz)
L2 Cache
Unlocked
A10-5800K
7660D
800
384
100 W
4
3.8
4.2
4 MB
Yes
A10-5700
7660D
760
384
65 W
4
3.4
4.0
4 MB
No
A8-5600K
7560D
760
256
100 W
4
3.6
3.9
4 MB
Yes
A8-5500
7560D
760
256
65 W
4
3.2
3.7
4 MB
No
A6-5400K
7540D

192
65 W
2
3.6
3.8
1 MB
Yes
A4-5300
7480D

128
65 W
2


1 MB
No


Of the six models purportedly planned, we have three of them: the A10-5800K, the A8-5600K, and the A6-5400K.

The A10-5800K will be AMD’s flagship. A pair of Piledriver modules technically makes this a quad-core APU, though, as we know, each module shares certain resources. The top-end A10 operates at a 3.8 GHz base clock that scales up to 4.2 GHz via Turbo Core, though our sample spent most of its time at 4 GHz (an intermediate P-state). Each of the -5800K’s Piledriver modules has its own 2 MB shared L2 cache, adding up to 4 MB across the chip. And AMD arms its two A10 APUs with Radeon HD 7660D graphics—a 384-shader engine operating at 800 MHz on the -5800K (and, reportedly, 760 MHz on the -5700).   

A small step down, the A8-5600K also leverages two Piledriver modules and 4 MB of total L2 cache (none of the Trinity-based APUs have L3). Its base frequency is 3.6 GHz with a 3.9 GHz Turbo Core ceiling. Both of the A8s come with Radeon HD 7560D graphics (256 shaders running at 760 MHz).

AMD’s A6-5400K represents a more significant departure from the other K-series SKUs. To begin, it bears a 65 W TDP, instead of 100 W. It’s also a single-module APU armed with two integer cores and a single floating-point unit. And instead of a shared 2 MB L2 cache, the -5400K is trimmed down to 1 MB of shared space. Radeon HD 7540D graphics are composed of 192 shader cores operating at an undisclosed frequency.

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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