AMD has officially unveiled its second generation of A-Series APU chips codenamed Trinity, which offer double the performance-per-watt over the existing Llano devices, and are expected to beat Intel's Ivy Bridge processors by offering the first quad-core mobile chips with equal or better battery life.
Available this month for mainstream and ultra-thin laptop designs, the Trinity A-Series is the latest in AMD's accelerated processing units (APUs) that combine both standard CPU cores and GPU cores on the same silicon. Desktop versions for all-in-one PCs are due later.
Trinity introduces the new Piledriver CPU core design and the Northern Islands GPU, which is equivalent to the high end of AMD's Radeon HD 6000 series standalone graphics, the firm said, with A-Series chips having up to four CPUs and up to six GPUs, depending on the model.
Other new features include the AMD HD Media Accelerator, which adds support for video transcoding acceleration similar to the Quick Sync video on Intel's latest chips. The platform also brings AMD's Eyefinity multi-monitor support for the first time in a laptop platform.
With a new ball grid array (BGA) chip package option and 17W TDP versions available, the Trinity chips are well suited to sleek and thin designs such as ultrabooks, according to AMD director of global product marketing, John Taylor.
He added that AMD was able to compete in this space with a quad-core chip and better graphics performance, without taking a hit on the battery life of such ultra-thin designs.
"We are unique in offering quad-core [in ultrabooks] and we expect performance to be 50 per cent better than Sandy Bridge. It might not be 50 per cent better than Ivy Bridge, but we expect it to be well in the double digits," he said.
Companies using the new A-Series in ultra-thin products include HP and Samsung, while Taylor said that many more vendors are readying products to launch when Windows 8 is released later this year.
The Trinity chips introduce the third generation of AMD's Turbo Core technology for optimising clock speed and performance, and support up to DDR3-1688 memory on the desktop chips, or DDR3-1600 on the mobile chips. They feature an HDMI 1.2 video output and 24 lanes of PCI Express I/O
The top mobile chip at launch is the A10-4600M, which features four CPU cores and is clocked at 2.3GHz, with a maximum turbo speed of 3.2GHz. At the low end, the dual-core A6 4455M is clocked at 2.1GHz/2.6GHz. Desktop chips have yet to be detailed by AMD.
Looking to the future, Taylor said that a new low-power design codenamed Kabini is due in 2013, while a new 4W power CPU codenamed Hondo is due for delivery "around the Windows 8 timeframe" for both consumer and commercial tablets. This will be followed in 2013 by a 3W APU for tablets codenamed Temash.
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