AMD Trinity A10-4600M Processor Review

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We won't burn up too much of your bandwidth setting the stage here.  AMD's second-generation Bulldozer core processor microarchitecture, codenamed Piledriver, has made headlines at HotHardware many times in the past few months, including our CES sneak peek of the chip that AMD is launching today for the mobile market, codenamed Trinity.  What this launch is all about is AMD's answer to Intel's Ivy Bridge-based Core series processors for notebooks.  It's that straightforward, though we'll start by level-setting expectations based on how both companies and their respective architectures approach computing workloads.

There's little debate that Intel's strength lies in their base x86 CPU architecture, which has held a significant advantage over AMD for several generations of product now, both in desktop and mobile flavors.  AMD has been left to compete on cost more than anything else (and in some recent products, low power) and when you consider Intel's clear advantage in leading-edge silicon manufacturing process, that's a thin line to walk.

Conversely, AMD enjoys a distinct advantage over Intel with their Radeon graphics engine, in terms of the integrated solutions they've brought to market in the mobile and desktop spaces and in its software support.  The dividing lines are fairly plain to see, with a quick examination of how each company partitions silicon resources.  Intel spends a disproportionate about of silicon area on x86 CPU and memory resources, whereas, even within Trinity, AMD carves out more area for the GPU.  Regardless, Ivy Bridge brought Intel's graphics game up significantly, as you're aware if you've been keeping up on our coverage here, with a fully DX11 capable graphics engine, along with a demonstrated up to 2X performance boost over Sandy Bridge's graphics engine, not to mention the traditional IPC kicker Intel engineered into their 3rd generation Core CPU cores.

For AMD, Trinity has also been reported as offering much-needed performance enhancements in IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) but also more of the same strength in gaming and multimedia horsepower, with an enhanced second generation Radeon HD graphics engine.  In the pages ahead, we'll dive into AMD's new Trinity architecture and AMD's new A10 series APU, along with lots of benchmark data looking at the results of AMD's recent efforts from a number of angles.

AMD Trinity A10 APU Die - 1.303B Transistors, 32nm - 246mm2

AMD A-Series Trinity APU
Specifications & Features

  • Die size: 246mm2
  • 1.303B transistors
  • Process: 32nm SOI
  • 2.09W MobileMark 07 power consumption
  • 1.08W idle power
  • Power reduction during HD media playback
  • Unified Northbridge (UNB)
  • Quad-core and Dual-core configurations
  • Updated AMD Radeon™ DirectX®11 GPU
  • 3 dedicated display outputs
  • 4 independent display controllers
  • DisplayPort 1.2 with symbol rates of 1.62, 2.7 and 5.4 Gbit/s
  • UVD and AMD Accelerated Video Converter
  • IOMMU v2  (Input/Output Memory Management)

AMD A-Series Trinity Processors (click for high res)

In the game of high-end semiconductor manufacturing, process technology is King.  Here AMD's noted that Trinity is comprised of a little over 1.3B transistors with a die size of 246mm2.  Conversely, Intel's Ivy Bridge processor is roughly 1.4B transistors at ~160mm2.  That's the difference between 22nm and 32nm technology, with AMD still riding a full process generation behind currently.  And though die size is directly proportional to cost, power consumption may or may not be, depending the power gating technologies and leakage at play.

As you can see, Trinity sips barely over 1W of power at idle and the current top-end A10 chip has a 35W TDP with a max clock speed of 3.2GHz, versus the Core i7-3720QM we tested not long ago at 45W.  Beyond that, you can see that AMD is bringing out several versions of their Trinity architecture, with both dual-core and quad-core variants, along with various Radeon HD 7000 series integrated GPUs on board, clocked at different speeds. 

AMD's lowest power chip is the A6-4455M, which is a dual-core CPU with a Radeon HD 7500G graphics engine on board consisting of 256 Radeon cores.  Today we'll be showing performance of the A10-4600M Trinity processor--a quad-core design with on-board Radeon HD 7660G graphics comprised of 384 Radeon cores, running at a peak clock speed of 686MHz for the GPU and 3.2GHz on the CPU.  First, let's look under the hood a bit with Trinity.

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omegadraco 2 years ago

Great on the graphics cores and the power they were able to get our of a 35W processors... I hope the price is competitive for AMD's sake. It would be neat to see them rule the "Ultrabook" market that Intel started.

Joel H 2 years ago

They won't rule it, but they might be able to offer a low-cost alternative. Ultrabooks are a way for Intel to keep margins and "sexyness" around the laptop / PC concept. AMD offers parts at a much lower cost, which will give OEMs more leeway to offer ultrabook-style systems (dubbed ultra-thin) at much lower price points.

karanm 2 years ago

Once again AMD blows intel out of the water in the graphics department but trails them in the cpu. A little disappointed to see them barely hold their own against Sandy bridge but the low power makes Trinity an excellent choice for ultrathins like joel said. After reading this review I would pick up a Trinity powered laptop in a hearbeat at the right price point.

realneil 2 years ago

Will there be offerings from AMD that add a discrete Radeon GPU for Hybrid Crossfire like we've seen in Desktop APU systems?

Doing such a thing might make a healthy difference to performance figures.

My A8 APU desktop does enjoy a nice boost in performance with Hybrid Crossfire enabled.

snakefist 2 years ago

does video encoding matters so much for ultrabooks that it deserve special "NOT"? this test is more suitable for more powerful desktop CPUs, not ones limited to 35W...

pity that once again the highest priced model is tested first... probably would be interesting to see a cheaper solution, which doesn't really has to worry about being close to i5, cause it's price range isn't close to i5 as well - many people consider price over performance in this segment, and 100+$ difference means the definitive decision for them

FTian 2 years ago

great for bioinfometrics (future reference) - when rendering 100 - 500 particles - the AMD core system (384cores/500mHz, 4 core, 35 watts) *10 systems - head node; server node; 8 system(body render) nodes + 7750(9 graphic card) + 7770 graphic card.

there will be approximately 56%+ increase in graphic performance from 2nd generation AMD systems.

there will be approximately 30%+ computing performance from the 2nd generation AMD systems.

The i5 processor is mainstream (the retail clueless people will follow this trend), and the AMD processor is faster in graphics than i5. The graphics in bioinfometrics - is crucial on data collection, and the time for the protiens to render is shortened by the AMD 7000s series graphics system. The i5 takes longer to render, and drains more power to compansate for the dual graphic formation of the AMD A8 (future to be A10) with 6550 (future to be 7750)

AMD is short-hand if it is single processor. AMD is long handed if it is multiple processor... Why AMD does not release a dual processor board for AMD processors + quad GPU (800 watts/3.5teraflops (that is 3.5 x 10e12)


AMD has more potiential in the mainstream market for low power consumption. Intel is overestimated by people, they need to release more eyecatching items; 12 threads instead of 8 threads, $150 i5 processors (2.0Ghz, 4 threads, HT) rather than to overprice with their labels and misled people. AMD is modest.

AMichael 2 years ago

The fact of the matter is, with an intel-based laptop you MUST add an nVidia Graphics GPU in order to keep up with the A10 in gaming. This makes intels more expensive AND power-hungry. Gamers that can afford to splurge on a nice Gaming rig wil almost always go for the intel/nVidia selection, I don't see why but they do. For me, the very mention of an A10 processor makes me weak in the knees. I know it's lame, but really the only 2 games I play are World of Warcraft and Guild Wars, which will both scream on most AMD machines. The thought of seeing the A10 in action while I play either of these is a thought that makes me all gooey inside. Don't get me wrong, I like intel and nVidia, the best computer I have built so far had them in it, but as for portable gaming, I will always choose AMD. I just hope that Toshiba put them in the Satellites in August so I can buy from them, otherwise, it looks like I'll be going with a dv6 from HP.

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