Present day consumers use their PCs for multimedia intensive tasks such as HD video playback. These HTPC tasks are not very power efficient when done using the x86 processor alone. Gamers have remained the main focus of the GPU developers. However, the GPU architecture (coupled with a dedicated video decoder on the same silicon) is quite useful for video playback and post processing also. This lightens the load on the x86 processor, and so, even consumers who rarely game opt to go for a discrete HTPC graphics card.

Intel used to integrate the GPU into the chipset till the GMA X4500. In Clarkdale, the integrated GPU became a part of the processor package itself, and eventually became a part of the main die in Sandy Bridge. The GMA X4500 and later models have a very efficient decoder, and renders a discrete HTPC graphics card redundant for most entry level users. AMD, unfortunately, had support for integrated graphics in only some of their chipset models. That is set to change today, as Lynx (the desktop version of the Llano) makes its way into the market. Ever since AMD acquired ATI, a processor with AMD's x86 CPU and ATI's GPU on the same die was hotly expected. The Lynx integrates a number of AMD Stars cores and also an updated Redwood class GPU (called Sumo) into the same die.

GPU Area in the Llano vs. GPU Area in Sandy Bridge (Die shots approximately to scale)

GPU support for basic HD video decoding and the 3D fad (Blu-rays) is provided by all the current platforms from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. From an HTPC perspective, mainstream consumers have started feeling the need for good, flexible video post processing capabilities also. Discrete AMD GPUs are well respected in the HTPC community, and the Redwood class GPUs have been used to override the Clarkdale's IGP in many a setup. Can the Sumo wrestle the spot away from Intel HD3000 Graphics in HTPCs?

Lynx HTPC Testbed Setup
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  • patsfan - Sunday, July 10, 2011 - link

    I have read, off and on for the last 7 years or so articles on Anandtech, however, the ONLY reason I come here anymore is the same reason I look at CNN from time to time. For a good laugh. What started off as a fairly serious website for reviews on all things peripheral, has now turned into an INTEL propaganda machine. Seriously, when you look at all the ads, all you see is INTEL, INTEL, INTEL. Anand, if you stepped back and looked at your website as it gets pulled up, you would see what we see, a website that is no longer objective, between Intel, and Crapple you've apparently lost your objective way. I look at the obvious, AMD is the underdog, and I'll pick the underdog every time, and as far as Apple goes, it's a hell of a marketing machine, but as far as equipment goes???? The I-phone was great 4 years ago, today, it is mediocre at best, and if you're into power computing, Apple has absolutely NO compelling entry. Sadly, I resign myself to the fact that this website no longer provides me with any stimulating information, other than being an Intel/Crapple bully pulpit........ Oh well
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  • morohmoroh - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    puting northbrigde inside core CPU is wonderfull in age of 32 NM but than ....that GPU radeon is still shared ram outside the processor , and NB still have to hop in out to transfer data in and out from the socket .....and it shared too with other kinda data for system stored at ram socket ddr3

    discreet VGA have dedicated RAM and some indenpendet core CPU too like in Nvidia , i wondering GDDR5 VS DDR3 , which one is fastes speedt?........comboing VGA is another idea but all that handle via software not at hardware it self.... so far see there is just another decoder for movies aka films format

    the northbridge itself inside or outside core CPU will stressing alot hardwork to transforming coming in out data from external socket RAM....and i think it will produce more heat itself at the core

    how can NB self handle 64 Gigs? i read that phenom x6 are gonna be very hot to handle 16 Gigs

    intel create DMI to handle data boost at Mobos ram pci etc ...and QPI for inner core data boost...

    well i not preety sure 32 Nm liano architecture are work fines in real wordl practically electron flows handling data , speed etc.....and mobo compability to manage the potential of it

    pushing external DDR3 speed to act like GDDR5 for integrated VGA on same dies core ?

    and i dont really care about i3 etc with VGA too i think its just another variaton for marketing thats all..seem nothing significant inovation about nano tech age can do more beyond that...

    maybe doctor OCt gonna say "the power of the sun in palm of my hand "LOL


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