AMD's Trinity : An HTPC Perspectiveby Ganesh T S on September 27, 2012 11:00 AM EST
Intel started the trend of integrating a GPU along with the CPU in the processor package with Clarkdale / Arrandale. The GPU moved to the die itself in Sandy Bridge. Despite having much more powerful GPUs at its disposal (from the ATI acquisition), AMD was a little late in getting to the CPU - GPU party. Their first full endeavour, the Llano APU (we're skipping Brazos / Zacate / Ontario as it was more of a netbook/nettop part), released towards the end of Q2 2011. The mobile version of the next generation APUs, Trinity, was launched in May 2012.
The desktop version of Trinity will be rolling out shortly. We have a gaming centric piece with general observations here. This piece will deal with the HTPC aspects. Llano, while being pretty decent for HTPC use, didn't excite us enough to recommend it wholeheartedly. Intel's Ivy Bridge, on the other hand, surprised us with its HTPC capabilities. In the rest of this review, we will see whether Trinity manages to pull things back for AMD on the HTPC front.
Some of the issues that we had with Llano included differences in video post processing for Blu-ray and local videos, issues with the Enforce Smooth Video Playback (ESVP) feature and driver problems related to chroma upsampling. Our first step after setting up the Trinity HTPC testbed was to check up on these issues. At the very outset, we are happy to note that advancements in software infrastructure, driver quality and to some extent, the hardware itself, have resolved most of the issues.
We see that the Trinity GPU is much better than Intel's HD4000 from a gaming viewpoint. Does this translate to a better performance when it comes to HTPC duties? As we will find out in the course of this piece, the answer isn't a resounding yes, but AMD does happen to get some things right where Intel missed the boat.
In this review, we present our experience with Trinity as a HTPC platform using an AMD A10-5800K (with AMD Radeon HD 7660D). In the first section, we tabulate our testbed setup and detail the tweaks made in the course of our testing. A description of our software setup and configuration is also provided. Following this, we have the results from the HQV 2.0 benchmark and some notes about the driver fixes that have made us happy. A small section devoted to the custom refresh rates is followed by some decoding and rendering benchmarks. No HTPC solution is completely tested without looking at the network streaming capabilities (Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight performance). In the final section, we cover miscellaneous aspects such as power consumption and then proceed to the final verdict.
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ganeshts - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkHmmm.. all vendors tag 23.976 Hz as 23 Hz in the monitor / GPU control panel settings. So, when I set the panel to 23 Hz, I am actually expecting 23.976 Hz. However, this platform gives me 23.977 Hz which is a departure from the usually accurate AMD cards that I have seen so far.
ChronoReverse - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link23.977 and 23.976 are so close that it's basically the same (the error in measuring tools would be as large as the difference). I'd only be concerned if it were 23.970.
In any case, from looking at the screenshots in the gallery, the only frequency looking rather off is 60Hz (although my AMD card has always given similar lower than 60Hz results anyway).
ganeshts - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkNote that these are in Hz, not MHz. So, the margin for error is quite large. In fact, madVR statistics deliver accurate refresh rates up to 6 decimal digits (as the screenshots show).
To read more on why the 0.001 Hz difference matters for SOME people, look this up: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4380/discrete-htpc-g...
In short, with the 0.001 Hz difference, the renderer might need to repeat a frame every ~17 minutes. I am NOT saying that this is a serious issue for everyone, but there are some readers who do care about this (as evidenced by the range of opinions expressed in this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1333324/lets-set-this-st...
ChronoReverse - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkThat thread on avsforum is talking about 24FPS playback where if you got 23.97x instead, it's a stutter about every 42 seconds which is terrible and clearly not acceptable (to my eye anyway).
Still, I do admit that even a single stutter every 17 minutes is noticeable.
Also, I had misread that part of the review a bit since for some reason I had the impression it was saying the performance of AMD has diminished when it's still about the same +/- 0.002Hz
jeremyshaw - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkWasn't AMD's first APU Brazos, not Llano? Or was it too small to really count!?
ganeshts - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkTechnically correct, but it didn't compete in the same level as the Clarkdales / Arrandales / Sandy Bridge lineup :)
jamawass - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link"The video industry is pushing 4K and it makes more sense to a lot of people compared to the 3D push. 4K will see a much faster rate of adoption compared to 3D, but Trinity seems to have missed the boat here. AMD's Southern Islands as well as NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs support 4K output over HDMI, but Trinity doesn't have 4K video decode acceleration or 4K display output over HDMI."
Although this statement is technically correct it has no real world relevance. At this time people who can afford 4k TVs ( if there any commercially available ones at this time) won't be messing around with cheap htpcs. It's an inconsequential statement made just to detract from AMD's overall superiority with this product in the htpc market.
If I was in AMD's shoes why would I dedicate resources to a nonexistent market ? Has anyone actually tested Nvidia or Intel's 4K output over HDMI to see whether they actually work? In the early days of HDCP all the video card manufacturers were claiming compliance but real world compatibility was a different matter.
ganeshts - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkI had the same caveat in the Ivy Bridge HTPC review. Surprised you didn't notice that, but you notice this :) Ivy Bridge doesn't support 4K over HDMI yet.
Anyways, yes, we have test 4K output from both NV and AMD. When AMD 7750 was released, we didn't have access to a 4K display, but things changed when the GT 640 was released:
I don't have a sample image ready for the 7750, but I can assure you that it works as well as NVIDIA's and I have personally tested it. In fact, AMD was the first to 4K output over HDMI.
JNo - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - linkMore importantly do you have any 4K films to watch? No. Will you in the immediate future? No. Even then, when will *most* new films coming out be available in 4K? Probably in 5 years time when you'd build a new HTPC anyway.
The 4K thing is absolutely irrelevant at this point (unlike 3D I'd argue because you can go into plenty of shops and buy actual 3D media).
After Hi Def came out hardware (TVs) were available quickly but it took a *long* time before there was plenty of 1080p material anyway (note use of the word, 'plenty'). Hell, most people I know are still watching stuff in SD. Laughably, 4K isn't even close to being out yet, let alone the content.
The whole thing's a red herring right now and for a long while.
Cotita - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - linkI'm not sure I'd go for an A10.
Even a A4 3420 would do pretty much the same.
Heck, If I don't care about HD flash or silverlight even a E-350 is enough