Set to take on Core i3 with better price/performance
AMD has finally detailed plans for its Trinity desktop processors, which are due to launch imminently. Rather than target the high end, the company is instead refocusing on the entry-level and mid-range with its A4, A6, A8 and A10 CPUs, which compare favourably to Intel’s Core i3 chips.
The Trinity architecture is an entirely new design, and as such uses a new processor socket. You’ll need to buy an FM2 motherboard, as the pin configuration isn’t backwards-compatible with the FM1 chipset used for last year’s Llano APUs. The new design is at least expected to last until the next processor generation, so you won’t need to upgrade immediately if you plan to stick with AMD come next year.
Trinity is such a departure from Llano that you’ll need a new motherboard to run one
The new chipset has also allowed AMD add Eyefinity support to many FM2 motherboards. With a Trinity APU, you’ll be able to drive three monitors simultaneously using a combination of DVI, HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort video outputs, all without the need for a dedicated graphics card.
New for Trinity is AMD Turbo Core 3, which can boost the CPU and GPU clock speeds independently, or both together for increased performance when thermal limits allow. Black edition processors will also be making a comeback, which now unlock both the CPU and GPU cores, letting overclockers push their chips even further for either faster computing or gaming with aftermarket cooling.
The pick of the bunch looks to be the A10-5800K, an unlocked quad-core APU with Radeon HD 7660D graphics and a CPU core running at 3.8GHz, boosting up to 4.2GHz. The multiplier-locked A10-5700 has the same GPU core and will run at 3.4GHz, with a 4GHz Turbo Core.
Lots of numbers here, but no price clues
Moving down the range, the A8-5600K and A8-5500 use the HD 7560D GPU core and run at 3.6GHz and 3.2GHz respectively. AMD will launch one A6 and one A4 APU for the initial rollout – the A6-5400K runs at 3.6GHz, has an HD 7540D GPU core and can be overclocked, whereas the locked A4-5300 runs at 3.4GHz and uses an HD 7480D GPU. AMD expects processors to be with retailers next week, and available to buy on the 2nd of October.
With no word yet on pricing, we can only estimate what the new processors will cost based on where AMD is marketing them – claiming Trinity offers Core i5 performance at Core i3 prices, we would hazard a guess that you’ll be paying between £70 and £150 depending on the chip, although you’ll need to factor in the price of a motherboard as well.
There’s no question that AMD has struggled to keep up with Intel since its successful Athlon 64 processor was overtaken by Intel’s Core design. Whereas Intel is pushing forward with 22nm fabrication processes and using 3D transistor technology, AMD is still working with a 28nm process that can’t compete with some of Intel’s more heavily clocked CPUs. However, Trinity has the benefit of being an APU, combining CPU and GPU cores on a single die.
Intel might have made progress with its own HD 4000 integrated graphics, but AMD’s purchase of ATI has largely kept it ahead of the game, producing higher frame rates than the Intel alternative. Across a selection of modern titles running at 1080p, including DIRT Showdown, Sleeping Dogs, Syndicate and Hitman Absolution, AMD claims an A10 Trinity APU will perform anywhere from 70-107% faster than an Intel CPU using HD 4000 graphics.
Gaming doesn’t look to be a problem on Trinity
Although we aren’t expecting miracles from the CPU side, Trinity should still promise superior performance compared to Intel’s HD 4000 and could be a cut-price way to play the latest games without investing in a pricey dedicated graphics card. Third party OEMS and system builders should be able to produce powerful gaming PCs for less with Trinity, so we’re eager to see whether AMD manages to produce the chips in volume ready for the launch. We’ll know more about the range when they go on sale next week.