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AMD's Trinity APU Efficiency: Undervolted And Overclocked

Trinity: Great Gamer, But What About Power?

By now, you’ve read all about AMD’s unconventional approach to introducing its Trinity APU architecture, peeling back the embargo on gaming-oriented performance first, and then granting permission to talk about pricing, overclocking, and alacrity in x86-based apps via benchmarks a few days later.

I warned the company that splitting Trinity’s debut into two days made it look like AMD wasn’t particularly proud of its showing in productivity and content creation apps—and it had no reason to do this, in my mind. As far back as June, we had already shown that a Piledriver module was performing about 15% better than Bulldozer in single- and multi-threaded apps at the same clock rate. We knew that Trinity would be faster than Llano in some situations, but slower in others.

AMD went ahead with its plan. But because we got our hands on Trinity-based A10, A8, and A6 processors right after they were announced at Computex, the performance data that AMD wanted to keep under wraps until now was already available in AMD Trinity On The Desktop: A10, A8, And A6 Get Benchmarked! and AMD Desktop Trinity Update: Now With Core i3 And A8-3870K. If you want to know how Piledriver does at the same clock as Bulldozer, how memory bandwidth scaling affects graphics performance, how effective Dual Graphics is, and how power changes from one generation to the next, all of that information is available between those two links, and was up in our top carousel last week.

But back in June, I was missing performance data from Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based Core i3s. They weren’t available yet. So, as I was trying to come up with an interesting angle for today’s story, I knew we needed results from the Core i3-3220 and -3225, at least.

Radeon HDGPU (MHz)ShadersTDPCoresBase CPUTurbo CoreL2 CachePrice
A10-5800K7660D800384100 W43.8 GHz4.2 GHz4 MB$122
A10-57007660D76038465 W43.4 GHz4.0 GHz4 MB$122
A8-5600K7560D760256100 W43.6 GHz3.9 GHz4 MB$101
A8-55007560D76025665 W43.2 GHz3.7 GHz4 MB$101
A6-5400K7540D76019265 W23.6 GHz3.8 GHz1 MB$67
A4-53007480D72412865 W23.4 GHz3.6 GHz1 MB$53

Also, it was apparent that a lot of work went into improving Trinity’s idle power consumption compared to Llano. But the APU’s 100 W TDP is still significantly higher than Core i3’s 55 W ceiling. Almost certainly, Trinity can’t be made to outperform and under-consume Ivy Bridge. We're nevertheless testing our A10-5800K at lower voltages and higher clock rates to see if it can be made to shine more brightly against the backdrop of Intel’s entry-level chip, which is far less flexible.

As a result, we get to add overclocked and undervolted performance to our existing library of Trinity-based data, along with a comparison to Intel’s Core i3 competition. And with pricing information in our hands, it becomes pretty easy to set AMD and Intel up head-to-head and declare one company’s solution better than the other’s. Are you ready for the big judgement?

  • esrever
    Most PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.
    Reply
  • tacoslave
    man getting this in a 17inch laptop with a 12 cell battery would make it an instabuy
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    In the end, then, both Intel and AMD are offering you an experience. Which one do you pick?

    At this price point, i would choose AMD Trinity.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... i like the WinZip with OpenCL acceleration benchmark... it shows...
    Reply
  • cangelini
    esreverMost PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.Happy to set a couple of systems up and let you know what I find.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    AMD should team up with developer of 7zip to accelerate it on APU's. That will make Trinity look better. A lot of people use 7zip. And most of the installation setup exe files are compressed using LZMA algorithm.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    Chris, it would be great to see some benchmarks of applications that uses the new FMA3 instructions of the Piledriver.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    esreverMost PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.So, it's probable that we're seeing a difference in configuration. It looks like Anand is using the Gigabyte A85X board and perhaps an older driver version. I'm on the MSI board and Cat 12.8, with a different Intel setup as well. On the Windows desktop, after 10 minutes on each config, I get 59 W for Intel and 67 W for AMD at idle.
    Reply
  • techcurious
    Chris, for the sake of completeness, any chance you could undervolt the i3-3225 at stock speeds and run the power consumption/efficiency tests on it? ;) ...to reveal how low the i3 can be pushed with some tweaking as well, and create the opportunity for a more fair comparison with the undervolted Trinity results.
    Reply
  • sarinaide
    Thanks Chris, another great article to pass time over. You really need to comment on the forums more and more so to help out against the blatent belligerence against what AMD are trying to achieve and how they are looking to achieve it.

    Hopefully this articale can start to filter around particularly for the budget users which A-series is premised to target.
    Reply