AMD has been struggling with market relevance since they discontinued their top-selling Phenom II and Athlon II lines for Brazos-based APU processors and the FX lineup. While their chips are technically capable, they’re just not as good as the previous generation parts they’re replacing. Right now, AMD is battling an onslaught from Intel’s Core i5 2300 on the high-midrange end, and the cheap Sandy Bridge Pentiums on the other end of the spectrum.
Launching this May, the company’s Trinity APUs are set to improve the performance of their current lineup and perhaps give manufacturers another option for when they’re assessing their Ultrabook alternatives. Trinity packs a processor and a graphics solution in the same package, with the GPU promising a more capable option than Intel’s Integrated HD chips when it comes to gaming.
However, will it be the better option? Intel’s HD3000 and HD4000 chips found in their Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge parts are technically just as capable, but Intel’s Quicksync technology makes the choice for OEMs more difficult. Quicksync uses the integrated graphics core to accelerate functions like Photoshop edits, video decompression and re-coding video from one format to another. In addition, Intel’s putting a lot of money behind the Ultrabook initiative – $400 million, to be exact. As it is, AMD’s Brazos platform is beaten in raw computational power by low-end Sandy bridge Pentium options.
AMD’s mobile Trinity chips haven’t been completely specced, but TDPs are expected to be under 40w, and Brazos 2.0 chips will now boast a 18w TDP. The desktop parts scheduled for release are the A10-5800K, A10-5700, A8-5600K, and A8-5500. All are quad-core parts, with the A10-5800K being an unlocked processor running at 3.8Ghz with Turbo Boost to 4.2Ghz. Graphics performance for the desktop parts is expected to be improved by 50% thanks to the new Radeon HD7660D, with CPU performance improving 10% over the previous generation.
While its nowhere near Core i5 2500K standards, at least AMD’s roadmap is completely on track – it was predicted at a conference last year that Trinity would yield about 10% in performance gains. Whether the same applies to the 15% improvements promised by Piledriver remains to be seen, but these chips are still sitting on the 32nm process. Trinity for the desktop is only expected to be released in Q3 of this year.
The new Brazos 2.0 processors will be named the E2-1800 and E1-1200, both being low-power dual-core APU solutions, and these will go in AMD’s much cheaper Ultrabook options that should retail for about $500 when they launch later this year.
The Piledriver-based new FX chips are already on the cards, called the FX-8350, FX-6300, FX-4320 with four, three and two Bulldozer cores respectively. AMD’s “Vishera” processors are scheduled to release much later this year, possibly close to Q4 2012 with quad-channel memory and based on the “Terramar” server chips. It won’t require a new socket but does pack no less than five (yes, that’s right, five) Bulldozer modules for a total of ten threaded cores. Its intended for parallel and virtualised environments, although packing an extra two cores above Intel’s inevitable octo-core processors might be a better value-add for some.
Stay tuned to NAG Online for more info as it leaks. This is going to be an interesting year for AMD fans, even if they feel a little disappointed by Bulldozer’s performance.