AMD has announced the launch of its new Trinity processor family which boasts ‘twice the performance per watt’ of its previous Llano chips. This may help manufacturers hoping to sell ultrabooks (or, as Intel has trademarked them Ultrabooks™). AMD has promised the chips will provide 29% more compute power with their new ‘Piledriver’ cores than did last year’s A8 3500M mobile chips, up to 56% better graphics performance – offering a far superior experience to all gamers – and up to 12 hours battery life on a 64-bit Windows 7 laptop.
Trinity can be set to run off as low as 17 watts. This focus on low power requirements is reflected by the manufacturers’ desire to offer thinner laptops and slimmer all-in-one desktop models.
The first computers using these chips are due to go on sale in June, with the US launch of a HP ‘Sleekbook’, it has been hinted that pricing will be lower than that for the equivalent Intel Ivy Bridge processors.
AMD is also working closely with Adobe to optimize their apps for the Trinity chips, pushing rendering speeds to over three times faster than with similar Intel architectures, or so they claim. They have also put in development effort with the popular open source VLC media player, incorporating plug-ins for AMD’s Steady Video technology designed to minimize the shaking that is common with user-generated video. Steady Video plug-ins are also being provided for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Windows Media Player. However this advanced graphic goodness does come at a price – power. The 35 watt quad and dual-core mainstream notebook members of the Trinity A-Series may be more power efficient than were the 45 watt Llano chips, but they fall behind current comparable Intel kit on efficiency when running YouTube and HDD video viewing.
The “Piledriver” architecture of its CPU cores introduces an energy-saving technique called “resonant clock mesh technology” which allows it to “recycle” some of the energy consumed as it carries out calculations.
“Over the past decade, several test chips successfully demonstrated a variety of resonant clocking implementations,” AMD’s chief technology officer Joe Macri told reporters.”None however, has achieved integration into a commercial processor due to various practicality or cost issues. AMD has managed to overcome these challenges. [It] results in a reduction in total core power consumption of up to 10%.”
Despite its advantages, one analyst said AMD might still find itself at a disadvantage against its long-term rival. “Trinity is a compelling product from a graphics performance and power consumption perspective,” said Sergis Mushell, processor expert at the tech analysis firm Gartner. “But Intel’s advantage is that it has a bigger ecosystem – there will be 10 to 15 times the number of systems using its chips than AMD’s. This gives it better economies of scale and the ability to offer its chips at more price points, ultimately putting it in a strong position to challenge Trinity.”
With all that said the new A-Series also includes a quad-core 25 watt chip and a dual-core variant that slots into the 17-watt sweet spot for laptops that Intel calls Ultrabooks and AMD calls “ultrathins”.
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