Trinity’s GPU Performance

AMD has allowed a quick preview of their new APU

Editor's Note: Right before the release of this story some discussion has been ongoing at other hardware sites about the methods AMD employed with this NDA and release of information.  Essentially, AMD allowed us to write about only the gaming benchmarks and specifications for the Trinity APU, rather than allowing the full gamut of results including CPU tests, power consumption, etc.  Why?  Obviously AMD wants to see a good message be released about their product; by release info in stages they can at least allow a brief window for that.  

Does it suck that they did this?  Yes.  Do I feel like we should have NOT published this because of those circumstances?  Not at all.  Information is information and we felt that getting it to you as soon as possible was beneficial.  Also, because the parts are not on sale today we are not risking adversely affecting your purchasing decision with these limited benchmarks.  When the parts DO go on sale, you will have our full review with all the positives and negatives laid out before you, in the open.  

This kind of stuff happens often in our world – NVIDIA sent out GTX 660 cards but not GTX 650s because of lack luster performance for example – and we balance it and judge it on a case by case basis.  I don't think anyone looking at this story sees a "full review" and would think to make a final decision about ANY product from it.  That's not the goal.  But just as we sometimes show you rumored specs and performance numbers on upcoming parts before the NDAs expire, we did this today with  Trinity – it just so happens it was with AMD's blessing.  

AMD has graciously allowed us the chance to give readers a small glimpse at the performance of the upcoming A series APUs based on the Trinity processor.  Today we are covering the SKUs that will be released, general gaming performance, and what kind of power consumption we are seeing as compared to the previous Llano processor and any Intel processor we can lay hands upon.

Trinity is based on the updated Piledriver architecture, which is an update to Bulldozer.  Piledriver improves upon IPC by a small amount over Bulldozer, but the biggest impact is that of power consumption and higher clockspeeds.  It was pretty well known that Bulldozer did not hit the performance expectations of both AMD and consumers.  Part of this was due to the design pulling more power at the target clockspeeds than was expected.  To remedy this, AMD lowered clockspeeds.  Piledriver fixes most of those power issues, as well as sprinkles some extra efficiency into the design, so that clockspeeds can scale to speeds that will make these products more competitive with current Intel offerings.


The Lineup

The top end model that AMD will be offering of the socket FM2 processors (for the time being) is the A10 5800K.  This little number is a dual module/quad core processor running at 3.8 GHz with a turbo speed of 4.2 GHz.  We see below the exact model range of products that AMD will be offering.  This does not include the rumored Athlon II editions that will have a disabled GPU onboard.  Each module features 2 MB of L2 cache, for a total of 4 MB on the processor.  The A10 series does not feature a dedicated L3 cache as the FX processors do.  This particular part is unlocked as well, so expect some decent overclocking right off the bat.


The A10 5800K features the VLIW 4 based graphics portion, which is significantly more efficient than the previous VLIW 5 based unit in Llano (A8 3870K and brethren).  Even though it features the same number of stream processors as the 3870K, AMD is confident that this particular unit is upwards of 20% faster than the previous model.  This GPU portion is running at a brisk 800 MHz.  The GPU core is also unlocked, so expect some significant leaps in that piece of the puzzle as well.

That is about all I can give out at this time, since this is primarily based on what we see in the diagram and what we have learned from the previous Trinity release (for notebooks).

Click to read the entire post here.


The Results

We did not have access to an Intel processor with a 4000 series graphics unit at this time, but I will be including results from such a product in the full review.  I used the previous A8 3870K and the Intel i3 2105 (which features the 3000 series graphics unit).  I took these products for a spin in four of the newer, more popular games out there.  I was not able to enable full resolution and quality selections, but the results still looked pretty good considering the performance.


I put all settings at Ultra, but cut AA down to 4X with 16X AF.  I did not enable FXAA.  Resolution was set to 1280×960 and I did a manual runthrough of Whiterun from the top of the keep down to the signpost.

The Intel part is not up to the task obviously.  Not surprising, as it is a last gen part with inferior graphics as compared to the 4000 series with the latest Ivy Bridge processors.  What is more interesting is the significant increase in performance from the 3870K to the 5800K.  We are looking at nearly a 25% increase, and overall smoothness and playability was increased dramatically.

DiRT 3

I selected the High preset and put post processing to medium.  4X AA was enabled as well.  The built in benchmark was used.

Yet again the Intel 3000 is chunking.  Hard.  We see a very solid 20% increase in performance for the 5800K over the 3870K.  I am still amazed that you can get this kind of performance and quality out of an integrated part.

Battlefield 3

Settings were placed at Medium presets with a 1280×960 resolution.  I did a manual runthrough of the first mission up until bad people start really shooting at me.  I don’t like it when people shoot at me.  Much.

We again see a nice a bump in performance going from the 3870K to 5800K.  Overall smoothness in the title itself is much improved.  It isn’t buttery smooth, but it is more than playable in single player mode.  The Intel part continued to crash throughout testing and we were unable to get any data out of this run.

Borderlands 2

The new hotness got its moment in the sun for this review.  I hand tuned the settings with AO on, DoF off, AF off, far view distance, and FXAA off.  I ran around the first mission and killed some poor creatures, all the while capturing it with FRAPS.

We see a little less than 20% scaling, but with a brand new title on the market it is not surprising.  We do see a lot more performance, and gameplay was much smoother.  The 5800K does seem to deliver on promises about how much better the graphics are for this particular product.  The Intel i3-2105 also continued to crash throughout testing, so we were unable to get any results.

Power Consumption

The A10 was very efficient at idle, consuming only 44 watts at the wall (this was the entire system).  Llano did a little worse, but not bad.  The older Intel model had much worse idle performance, but anything under 60 watts is really good.  Once we get into Load then we see that the A10 is the hotter processor.  The Llano is quite a bit more efficient, but it is also a lot slower.  The Intel i3… that is very efficient, but when we look at performance we see that it is lacking.


The graphics performance of Trinity is second to none when we are looking at that particular piece.  But that is not the whole of the product.  How does Piledriver perform?  Are the improvements at the full 3.8 GHz enough to get it over the hump and beat Intel at that price point?  Do GPGPU type applications really see a speed up in this product?  These are all good questions, and they go unanswered with this preview.  You will need to read what will come next week to see the entire product.  We showed you the good parts, but the warts are going to be exposed.  Perfect product?  Not really, but at least as far as we can see a step in the right direction.  Stay tuned for next week as we show off the full monty.