back to article AMD: New Trinity laptop chips out-juice Intel graphics

Laptop manufacturers hoping to flog ultrabooks – or, as Intel has trademarked them, Ultrabooks™ – may be able to shave their prices a bit now that AMD has released its second-generation A-Series accelerated processing units (APUs), code-named "Trinity". AMD promises that its new 32-nanometer, high-k metal gate CPU-GPU mashups …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Nice but...

    ... I wish they would do a little better on their drivers for Linux, both on the graphics and chipset level. As also on the kernel integration for their CPUs.

    Intel and NVidia have done a better job in this regard IMHO...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Love to see AMD claim back the enthusiast crown

    2. Wunderbar1

      Re: Nice but...

      Just their GPU drivers in general

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: Nice but...

      I'm surprised to see you say that. When did you last use them? AMD released documentation for their chips quite some time ago and have worked with the Open Source Community to really help develop actual Open Source drivers, as opposed to Nvidia's binary blobs. Do you ever go to the Phoronix forums. There's a lot of information about them there and I have a lot of respect for AMD for trying to support Open Source drivers so much.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Nice but...

        really? Here is my experience with an E350 fusion chipset this very weekend on ubuntu,

        Bundled driver is catalyst 11.11 (open source). Needed newer catalyst to stop tearing in 1080 movies (ripped myself so I know the source and method/quality level).

        Attempt to use jockey, fglrx basic works but the update barfs. Attempt to remove, nogo, attempt to upgrade nogo. Roll back to clonezilla backup.

        Attempt 2. Use the ati catalyst update package. First try to install using the package (not rebuild). Barfs the whole system, no --initial, no xconf, no driver. Roll back to clonezilla backup.

        Attempt 3. Use the ati catalyst update package. Build the package. Same as above. Great. Rollback. Hit the wiki and follow the instructions for 11.10 to the letter. Doesnt work. symbolic links missing. Add them manually still doesnt work. Give up.

        In contrast, my XBMCBuntu on an ION board works out of the bag. Need to update the nvidia drivers? Worked EVERY time.

        Whilst I use ATI on my desktop windows machine I would never use one again for a linux media center.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Nice but...

          damn no edit. Before people say, yes I do know about the "no tearing option" and the lack of enabled by default on 11.10. If that is enabled then you get blocky decode errors instead, apparantly this has been fixed in the newer 12+ catalyst. No such issue on an idential ION setup (both XBMC installed from same source).

        2. Homer 1

          AMD Catalyst is "open source"?

          There's your problem. AMD Catalyst is not open source, it's proprietary and closed.

          Mixing proprietary and Free Software together on the same system, especially when it's something as fundamental as hardware drivers, is bound to cause issues, because Free Software developers can't reasonably be expected to wait for proprietary developers to keep up with their rapid changes to dependencies, and of course they lack the sources to rebuild the proprietary drivers themselves when they make those changes.

          Meanwhile, proprietary software developers are only interested in money, which makes them disinclined to do anything unless there's profit in it, unlike Free Software developers who only want to make things work, keep them working, and improve them as rapidly as possible. That process is made unnecessarily difficult by proprietary software, both in terms of irrelevant bug reports, which no Free Software developer can reasonably be expected to do anything about, and Free drivers that lack access to "precious" secrets, until those secrets can be ripped out by reverse engineering. In recent times it has transpired that the primary cause of this issue is in fact not the GPU manufacturers at all, but a patent racketeering organisation called the MPEG-LA.

          Nonetheless, Free Software development continues unabated, and Free drivers are largely feature-complete, except in certain extreme case like Nvidia, perhaps the most hostile company in the industry towards Free Software. But even there considerable progress has been made, in spite of that hostility and total lack of cooperation.

          I have an AMD Fusion system running Gentoo and the Free radeon driver, and it works perfectly as an entertainment system, including playing back 1080p video and playing recent games (both native and under Wine). No need for proprietary drivers. Indeed they only cause problems, so you should avoid them.

          People need to stop automatically installing proprietary drivers under the misguided expectation they're getting something "better", when in fact all they're getting is a headache. Of course, it might actually help if those people even knew the drivers were proprietary to begin with, instead of assuming that just because AMD Catalyst is released for Linux then it must therefore be "open source".

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Free Sottware

            Is that Free Sottware™ or what?

          2. JEDIDIAH

            Re: AMD Catalyst is "open source"?

            Open versus Closed has squat to do with it.

            The nvidia blob driver is great. It is everything that the ATI drivers should be but never have been. They have been like that for years going back to the 6x00's and before. They even had support for partial video decode acceleration back in those days.

            With ATI, you're lucky to get the basic details right.

            1. Homer 1

              Re: AMD Catalyst is "open source"?

              Well given that the comment I replied to specifically complained about problems relating to the proprietary AMD Catalyst driver, clearly closed-source software has everything to do with it.

              I've used Nvidia's hardware in the past, initially under Windows (until Macrovision deliberately disabled my hardware for "copyright" reasons), and then under GNU/Linux. The "nv" driver, initially donated by Nvidia, was really only a 2D driver. Their binary blob was a nightmare to install, destroying Mesa and requiring a manual fix, and became incompatible with each kernel update, sometimes lagging by weeks or even months. It's also the only Linux driver that ever caused my system to spontaneously reboot. Between these driver problems, Nvidia's benchmark cheating, and their extreme hostility towards Free Software, I'll never buy or use another Nvidia product again, and I'm deeply relieved to have moved on to AMD.

              As for ATi not "getting the basics right", I have no idea what you mean, primarily because I don't use their proprietary drivers, I use the Free radeon driver, and as I said I have no problems with either 2D, 3D or video playback. The closest thing I had to an actual "problem" was a Windows game that wouldn't run under Wine, because of "missing features", which turned out to be some "patented" S3 texture compression features that had to be supplied separately, in the form of software called "libtxc_dxtn", distributed outside the jurisdiction of the software patents racket. Having installed that software, I now have full functionality. I also have excellent speed in both 2D and 3D, and the ability to play 1080p video.

              Is there something else I'm missing?

  2. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik


    Considering they already provide specs to Linux driver devs and even some support I believe.

    Much better than nvidia that only provide a closed up driver.

    1. LaeMing
      Thumb Up

      Re: like?

      The open drivers used to be a load of old.... But I had to install them last week in desperation and was (very much to my surprise) extremely impressed with them. I'd recomend everyone at least give them a go again if they haven't in the past year-or-so. Not /quite/ as fast as fglrx, but plenty close enough for my needs and WAY more stable!


    Is it still socket FM1?

    Would love to try to shoehorn this into my existing A6 lappy...

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Is it still socket FM1?

      It's supposed to be FM2 from what I've heard. Sorry about that. The CPU equivalent model (the Piledriver ones) will still be AM3+ so can be dropped in to replace existing chips.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What comparable Intel chip?

    "but they fall behind current comparable Intel kit on efficiency when running YouTube and HDD video viewing."

    Which comparable Intel kit is this on about? Atom? Do tell please

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: What comparable Intel chip?

      Good question. As far as I can see, the new AMD chips are ahead on graphics compared to anything close to their price range. I've actually been holding off from getting a new laptop while I waited to see what AMD would come out with. The Trinity chips are powerful enough for my laptop needs and cheaper and they have excellent integrated graphics due to the APU design. Quite frankly, Intel are undisputed masters at the high performance end, but in terms of most customer's needs (reasonable performance, good graphics, cheaper, lowish power consumption), AMD actually seem the better option to me.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: What comparable Intel chip?

        Stuff like Flash is a matter of raw CPU power. It doesn't have anything to do with the GPU.

        THAT is the big problem with Flash.

        ION won't help. ION won't even help under Windows. You need an overpowered CPU to deal with Flash regardless of what platform you are using. There is no escape.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What comparable Intel chip?

          Flash...? Don't you mean SilverSludge.

          My old Athlonx2(1.8GHz)+ATI1200 laptop handles iPlayer HD content no problem using Flash.

          Sky's player on the otherhand is unusable, 99% CPU to view a ultralow quality postage stamp. All due to that Microsoft crapware (it's also the only reason I ever tried installing it as no other web site I visit uses it).

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I would be willing to try the chips (and other AMD/Radeon graphics), and the newer Linux drivers. Only problem is we would have to port quite a bit of stuff from CUDA to OpenCL (which might be a good idea anyway, similar performance and no vendor lock in).

    Regarding the binary nVidia drivers, I have no problems there. I rather like the fact that after inserting a new nVidia card in my PC to replace the old nVidia card, Linux runs without any adaptation, whereas Windows needs a new driver.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    up to 29 per cent more compute power

    ... but in real-time conditions, more like 5.64%

    up to 56 per cent better graphics performance

    ... but in real-time conditions, 3 - 7%, with immediate 78% downward slump in battery life

    up to 12 hours battery life on a 64-bit Windows 7 laptop

    ...yeah, right, more like 4 hours, and that with the graphics performance set to "ultralonglife mode", aka "sleep".

    1. spencer

      Re: upto

      I'm sure the claims are overstated, they always are, regardless of which manufacturer makes them.

      ....But also it's pretty daft to make these sort of comments when you haven't even tried the hardware yourself, which I'm guessing you haven't because it's not been released yet.

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Anti-shake video...

    Tomshardware reckon the Steady Video plugin in real-time is pretty darn impressive. I'm not sure if I watch enough shoddy Youtube vids to make it a deciding factor for me, though!

    nVidia have had a similiar CUDA tool for a while, but it is aimed at the creator of the video at the encoding stage, rather than at playback.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Anti-shake video...

      I have tried the Steady Video feature using my 6450 in the work PC.

      It does work fairly well for making some videos a little more watchable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anti-shake video...

        So the BBC "News" should buy a load of these as crappy phone videos seem to make up their main footage these days.

  8. Robert E A Harvey

    What is the point?

    The bluddy box shifters will only fit toys-r-us screens. Why do they need stonking great graphics ships?

    1. spencer

      Re: What is the point?

      What would you call a toys-r-us screen? The previous mobile chips AMD released for netbooks (brazos) usually had screens that are the same resolution as ultrabooks.

      1. Steve Foster


        For 13" screens, anything less than 900 vertical pixels is a T-r-U screen.

        At 15", 900vp is marginal, 1050vp/1080vp is acceptable, 1200vp is good.

        1. spencer

          Re: @spencer

          I can't find anything with a 13" screen with >=900 vertical pixels. Could you link me?

          1. Alan Edwards

            Re: @spencer

            13-inch MacBook Air is 1400x900, 13-inch Asus Zen (and one of the Sonys I think) is 1600x900. That's about your lot though. There is the Lenovo T420s with 1600x900, but that's a 14-inch.

            Low resolution laptop screens really annoy me. I have a years-old HP netbook with a 9-inch 1280x720 panel (and a CPU that's slower than a glacier, but that's beside the point), why are still getting 14 and 15-inch laptops with 1366x768?

            Proper monitors aren't much better. 27-inch, but only 1920x1080??

            1. spencer

              Re: @spencer

              My mistake - I was looking at 11" screens - please disregard!

            2. Giles Jones Gold badge

              Re: @spencer

              It is a bit annoying when an iPad can have a much higher resolution on a smaller screen.

            3. Robert E A Harvey

              @Alan Edwards

              >Proper monitors aren't much better. 27-inch, but only 1920x1080??

              It's a major piss-take in my opinion. The Iiyama HM703U crt was 1600x1200 and 17" in 1999.

  9. mrmond

    My HP laptop is a hybrid affair, discrett 4200 and 5400HD for a bit more oomph. Linux supplied drivers always seem to think I just have the 4200. The latest Catalyst from AMD works properly and lets me choose which to use. Win 7 no problems but XP is completely unsuported. No hybrid drivers for XP abailable and the normal 5400 driver fails to install.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AMD Delivers with Trinity

    Trinity most definitely delivers for consumers with increased performance across the board. I want one.

  11. Erp Erpington

    Spoiler alert!

    Intel still wins on CPU performance, AMD still wins on IGP vs. IGP gaming performance.

    So which will you be doing more on your next laptop: compressing videos, or playing games?

    (The best performance is, of course, an Intel CPU + a dedicated GPU, but your battery life will be lower and your wallet will be lighter.)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel fanbois in distress

    All over the Net today Intel fanbois have been jumping out of windows in tall buildings because Trinity is a big performance leap over Llano and plenty of CPU and GPU performance for most laptop users and hundreds cheaper than Intel's solutions.

    You'd think it was the end of the world that AMD has increased their laptop performance advantage over Intel. It amazes me that people define themselves by the PC they own or the car they drive. They must have a very empty life...

    1. Antidisestablishmentarianist

      Re: Intel fanbois in distress

      You must be new to the internet as that's all it is these days - people defining themselves by the objects they own. Intel vs AMD, iOS vs Android, Mac vs Windows, Proprietary vs Free etc etc. Basically it's gotten to the point of religion, which is well, distasteful in any form. Maybe such belief structures are really a natural human condition :(

      That being said I like watching zealots eyes bulge and roll, and the flecks of spittle fly when they rant forth their hellfire and brimstone (figuratively of course). It's highly entertaining. Poking them (aka Trolling) helps when things get boring too.

      Hmm, I think I've just made a mistake - this post is verging on rational (IMO natch) which will be flagged by the moderator. So to avoid that, PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE FOR LIFE, or something. There fixed it.

  13. nexsphil

    Drivers drivers blah blah blah

    Nobody cares whether drivers are open source and other such tangential guff. Is this the best performer in this class & price band or not? That's it. I have to say this one is looking pretty good for AMD. Well done.

  14. Boris S.

    Some folks do care about drivers

    Intel drivers have been sad for a long time but their IGP is just a couple generation behind AMDs. Some folks also care about Open Source so AMD is working to help them too. Trinity is good for all except Intel.

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