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Old 16-05-2012, 01:50 AM   #1
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[] The AMD Trinity Review (A10-4600M): A New Hope

AMD’s microprocessor history goes way back, predating even the now venerable x86 architecture. Their first foray into x86 territory came as a subcontractor to Intel, and from there AMD cut the ties and began making x86 compatible chips of their own design, starting in 1991 with the Am386. AMD went on to make the Am486 and Am5x86 before ditching the “86” part of the name with the launch of the K5. That’s where most of us started paying closer attention, and the K6/K6-2/K6-III and K7 were quite popular in their day. The real deal however came with the K8/Hammer family of processors—chips that not only competed with Intel offerings (Pentium 4 mostly) but actually outperformed them in the vast majority of benchmarks, and did so while using less power. It was a double whammy of performance and efficiency, and for several years AMD chips were the enthusiast’s CPU of choice.

Unfortunately for AMD, they’ve never quite managed to reclaim the glory of the Athlon 64/Opteron launch. It took Intel a few years—and a scrapped Tejas architecture—but when they finally got things straightened out they struck back with a vengeance. Intel’s Conroe (Core 2) architecture turned the tables on AMD with the same double whammy of increased performance and reduced power, and since the launch in mid-2006, Intel has managed to hold onto the CPU performance crown. In fact, earlier this year AMD almost seemed to throw in the towel as far a high-performance CPUs are concerned, with their future strategy focusing on mainstream and value-oriented APUs. We’ve already seen some of that with their first APUs, Brazos and Llano, and today AMD brings out their third APU architecture: Trinity.

If you’re hoping to see a repeat of the Hammer launch back in 2003 with Trinity today, you’re going to be disappointed. AMD has made no claims or even hints that Trinity is going to go toe-to-toe with Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge-E in processor benchmarks. Instead, the marketing material and reviewer’s guides are more about telling a story of good performance, balance, and flexibility with a price point that won’t have you looking for a loan. Sometimes the best way to take down a massive empire isn’t by lining up your heavy guns and trading blows until one side capitulates—in such battles, the larger/wealthier corporation almost always wins. Instead, it’s the plucky little ships that can outmaneuver the big guns that can sometimes come out ahead. Will Trinity be AMD’s X-wing to Intel’s Ivy Bridge death star? Read on for our full analysis.

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