SAN JOSE – Advanced Micro Devices officially launched its 32 nm Trinity processors, going head-to-head in notebooks and desktops with Intel’s 22 nm Ivy Bridge CPUs. The AMD parts sport upgraded x86 and graphics cores that keep it competitive in performance with some parts consuming as little as 17W, geared for ultrathin notebooks.
AMD claims it has already shipped more than a million Trinity chips to PC makers, overcoming difficulties it had delivering last generation chips. “AMD has put yield issues with GlobalFoundries way behind them from everything I have heard,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight65 (Saratoga, Calif.).
“Six months ago, I would have been shocked if someone said [Intel and AMD] would be ramping [their latest CPUs] in parallel, but that’s what we are seeing,” Brookwood said.
Thin and light notebooks are one of the sweet spots in the maturing PC market for both companies.
Intel defined the Ultrabook, a variant of the Apple MacBook Air, as its target, defining a detailed specification and supporting it with a $300 million venture capital fund. AMD aims to enable similar kinds of systems without requiring adherence to a detailed spec, aiming to enable lower price points.
Trinity parts bring advantages both in higher performance and lower power consumption that will keep AMD competitive in the latest round. “AMD can now claim battery life and thermal characteristics at least comparable to Intel, but they have a huge challenge to educate sellers and users that they have turned [past power consumption issues] around,” said Brookwood.
Specifically, the 246 mm2 Trinity packs 1.303 billion transistors. That compares to 1.178 transistors in 228 mm2 for AMD’s previous Llano CPU.
Trinity includes two or four new Piledriver x86 cores and a new Radeon 6000 series graphics core aka Northern Islands. They give the part performance boosts of 50 percent in graphics and 25 percent in x86 performance over the previous Llano chip, AMD claims.
“With the exception of a few structures everything is new in Trinity,” said John Taylor, global product marketing manager at AMD.
The Piledriver core is a follow on to the Bulldozer core which itself was an advance over the 45 nm Stars core used in the previous Llano client CPU. Llano sports improved branch prediction and scheduling for both its two integer units and a shared floating point block. The core runs at 2 to 3.8 GHz with less power leakage than Bulldozer.
The new Radeon 6000 series graphics core runs at 424 to 800 MHz to deliver 736 Gflops and P1361 on the 3DMark 11 benchmark, AMD reported.
The Radeon 6000 series GPU core takes up about half the die (right side) of the AMD Trinity CPU.