AMD demos working 28-nm GPU, Trinity APU

As usual, AMD set up shop this week on the outskirts of the Intel Developer Forum, in a hotel suite not far from the main Moscone Center venue, in order to tell its side of the story. The biggest news from the underdog chipmaker this week was a live demo of working GPU silicon fabbed on TSMC’s 28-nm process.

As you can see, the GPU demoed was a discrete model intended for mobile systems, situated on an MXM module (top left in the shot above) installed in a laptop development system. This GPU is part of the “Southern Islands” family, which will feature the new shader architecture AMD unveiled at its Fusion Developer Summit back in June. Another bit of novelty in Southern Islands will be support for the emerging PCI Express 3.0 standard, which should essentially double peak transfer rates over PCIe 2.0.

Although the firm has been making noises about being ahead of the game on 28-nm chips, it appears we may not see 28-nm GPUs for sale during the holiday buying season. AMD’s David Cummings told us they’re aiming to bring this product to market near the end of the year. That’s a bit of a vague window, but it doesn’t suggest an impending release.

Also on display was AMD’s upcoming Trinity APU, the follow-on to Llano, this time in a head-to-head comparison against Sandy Bridge, with a system based on each chip running Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Naturally, Trinity was running the game in DX11 mode, while Sandy Bridge had to stick with DX9.

AMD’s Godfrey Cheng narrates our video of the demo above, in which he reveals the code name of Trinity’s IGP: “Devastator.” Interestingly, although it’s been widely reported that Trinity’s IGP will be based on the Cayman GPU architecture that powers the Radeon HD 6900 series, Cheng told us AMD hasn’t officially confirmed that fact, and he wouldn’t confirm it for us. Could Trinity’s IGP be based on the older Cypress/Barts-era graphics architecture? Hmm.

Regardless of its provenance, that IGP will be paired with some number of “Piledriver” CPU cores derived from the all-new Bulldozer microarchitecture. (We expect Trinity to feature up to four cores, or two Bulldozer “modules.”)

When asked about Trinity’s likely release time frame, Cheng underscored the rapid pace of AMD’s development recently, pointing out that the firm will have launched a host of chips—the low-power Ontario/Zacate APUs, Llano, and soon Bulldozer/Zambezi—since Intel introduced Sandy Bridge. Somewhat amazingly, if AMD keeps to its schedule, Trinity may also join that list, reaching the market before Intel’s Ivy Bridge lands this spring.

Curiously, Cheng would not confirm that Trinity will be drop-in compatible with the still-new Socket FM1 platform just introduced with the desktop variants of Llano. Instead, he emphasized that AMD may see some disruptions in its socket infrastructure for the next little while, a casualty of the company’s shorter development cycles and the introduction of new technologies.

Of course, no AMD demo suite would be complete without an Eyefinity demonstration featuring loads of monitors—five of ’em side by side in landscape mode, in this case—and a gaming system tied to a stereoscopic 3D display and glasses. AMD’s stereoscopic 3D tech is called HD3D, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of a handful of games (along with DiRT 3 and soon Battlefield 3) that support HD3D natively via AMD’s new quad-buffer API. (HD3D supports a host of other games via the DDD middleware, too.) The monitor is Samsung’s SA950, which offers 3D support via DisplayPort and looks quite nice indeed.

Comments closed
    • Silus
    • 8 years ago

    [url<]http://www.nordichardware.com/news/71-graphics/44180-amd-hd-7000-delayed-to-2012.html[/url<] Poor sales of HD 6000s (which was already evident in AMD's earnings with yet another loss for the graphics division) and 28 nm GPUs only in 2012.

    • Airmantharp
    • 8 years ago

    Who can’t be excited about what Intel is doing with their integrated graphics?

    Intel’s IGPs are the baseline for ALL graphics adapters. Any increase in performance or capability means that the baseline for everyone has just been raised!

    Particularly, the inclusion of OpenCL capability means quite a bit for everyone involved in graphics- developers can finally start thinking about using GPUs to accelerate anything and everything.

    And the enhanced 3D performance isn’t going to hurt either :).

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      What even low end card hasn’t supported OpenCL for a year now? Intel isn’t driving the baseline, they’re *catching up to it*.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        Well, that’s not the point I was trying to convey- Intel’s graphics performance has been the baseline, both because it’s the slowest and because it’s the most prolific.

        Their support for OpenCL is something new and it means that now almost every new machine will have that capability. With GPU compute soon to be available at every level, developers now have a very reasonable incentive to start using everywhere they can.

          • willmore
          • 8 years ago

          That I’ll agree with.

      • Laykun
      • 8 years ago

      It’s fantastic that intel is raising the bar, however OpenCL cannot be used to accelerate everything as it only works well with parallel problems with lots of data, i.e. graphics, multimedia, physics, scientific simulations. For things like AI or other problems involving conditionals the CPU is generally much faster due to it’s crazy advanced pipeline optimisations like branch prediction and pre-fetching.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    The way AMD bashes Intel’s graphics today is reminiscent of the way they bashed Intel’s FSB with their Hypertransport and IMC with Athlon 64. It does nothing but make Intel realize what else they should pour their vast R&D money on, and which they use later to strike back at AMD while they rest on their laurels.

    • maroon1
    • 8 years ago

    According to anandtech, Intel ivy bridge GPU is going to be 60% faster than sandy bridge. Also, the anisotropic filtering quality is going to be improved.

    Moreover, it is going to support three display outputs, and Quick Sync is going be twice as fast as SB
    [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4830/intels-ivy-bridge-architecture-exposed/5[/url<] Intel seems very serious in improving GPU performance. Sandy bridge GPU was much faster than older intel GPU's, and same thing is going to happen with Ivy bridge

      • Pettytheft
      • 8 years ago

      But will it crash on random games much like everything else Intel produces. I’ll believe it when I see it.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        While I don’t want to discount your experience, I believe that Intel’s drivers are one of the highlights of their products outside of their graphics technology. If anyone can build stable graphics drivers, it’s Intel, especially now that they’re taking graphics much more seriously.

        Remember that AMD and to a lesser extent Nvidia (my experience) both have had plenty of driver issues themselves, and that’s what they do!

      • link626
      • 8 years ago

      sounds like ivy bridge will be a real killer.

      i wonder how much they can lower the power consumption.

      if they can squeeze out 7 hours from a 48whr battery from a non-ulv core i mobile cpu, that would be impressive.

      • Voldenuit
      • 8 years ago

      At TR, the intel HD3000 scored 9 fps on Borderlands. 60% faster than 9 fps is… 14 fps :p

      About the only thing that sounds interesting from the IB preview is that intel is (finally) opening up the GPU to OpenCL APIs.

        • pogsnet1
        • 8 years ago

        If you make it twice as fast

        9 fps x2 = 18 fps <—- still not playable

        ^_^

          • Voldenuit
          • 8 years ago

          Yup, which is why I’m not considering a Llano system either. I might give Trinity a chance, but I’ll wait and see how it plays out first. In any case, my point is that IB’s IGP is still below reasonable baselines for gaming performance, so I don’t see what the hoopla is about. I [i<]do[/i<] appreciate that intel has finally added OpenCL support, because that would open up the IGP to applications other than gaming, which [i<]may[/i<] prove beneficial (although we're more likely to end up with something slow, buggy and unreliable, if it ends up being supported at all).

            • khands
            • 8 years ago

            I believe Llano’s GPU is hamstrung by its anemic CPU at this point (and AMD needs to figure out how to give it access to on die cache at the same time as the CPU, but that’s for another topic). Hopefully the bulldozer cores let them shine, among other improvements.

            • willmore
            • 8 years ago

            You’ve been doing performance analysis on an APU, good.

        • maroon1
        • 8 years ago

        Borderland is just one game. Even AMD llano got very low fps in that game, so whats your point ?

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Obviously, switching over to 22nm gives them more die space, so adding more GPU compute units should be easy and relatively straightforward. AMD could easily do the same thing although Zambezi’s 315mm2 die size will not make it bode well for AMD’s balance sheets. I imagine adding a GPU to the 2-module (4-‘core’) variants will be easier though. Moreover, AMD/ATI has better drivers. I wouldn’t seriously consider gaming on Intel’s graphics (at least for now) unless it’s out of curiosity. You know, to see if it’s stable and all.

      Anyway, it’s Ivy Bridge’s potentially higher clocks that AMD must be concerned with, not 60% higher GPU peformance or ‘new-fangled’ DRNG (Digital Random Number Generator). I imagine matching those should be relatively easier for AMD.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        I game regularly on my SB laptop- granted it has a low resolution screen, but it’s more than capable in a number of games, particularly Source-based. And I do know it’s slow and low resolution, as my desktop system is an overclocked 2500k with a pair of HD6950’s pushing a 30″ screen, but it still works.

          • ronch
          • 8 years ago

          Sandy Bridge powering your digital life, eh? It’s a good thing a mobile SB could manage to game, although to put that in perspective, we have lower expectations from a laptop. More GPU power wouldn’t hurt though, as long as thermals and battery life remain unscathed.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I originally wanted a Llano-based laptop, but I think I’ll hold out for Trinity instead. My Turion X2 should be able to last just a bit longer, maybe even a year more.

    As for Zambezi, I never thought of getting it because my Phenom II is still great. I hope to get an enhanced BD sometime in 2012 or 2013.

    So AMD, keep it coming! And make them good!

    • rootheday3
    • 8 years ago

    In the video, one of the AMD guys says that the Trinity system can run at a “higher” anti aliasing setting because it supports MLAA (2:45). That’s pretty funny- MLAA isn’t higher than traditional MSAA, regardless of how it happens to appear in the ordering of the Deus Ex menus; MLAA actually likely to be somewhat lower quality than traditional AA because it is a post-processing effect and can’t use information about the geometry.

    Because this is an in game option, it may be that it isn’t subject to some of the unintended side effects like text blurring that can occur when MLAA is forced through the driver control panel. But it isn’t likely to be higher quality than MSAA.

    Other than a momentary stutter on the Sandybridge system at the 0:42, both looked similar to me. Moreover, per the comments at [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/4813/look-out-bulldozer-here-comes-trinity-amds-2012-demo-on-video-at-idf<]Anandtech[/url<], the stuttering may be fixed in a game patch... Last year at IDF, AMD demo'd IE9 on Bobcat and happened to use outdated Intel drivers. Anyone want to take bets on whether they similarly "forgot" to update things for this demo?

      • Goty
      • 8 years ago

      Various image quality analyses around the web would tend to disagree with your image quality statement. MLAA provides significantly better image quality than 2xAA and marginally better image quality than 4xAA while simultaneously taking a smaller performance hit than either of the included FSAA modes.

    • can-a-tuna
    • 8 years ago

    Good to see AMD getting back to the game. Still waiting 4-core bulldozer.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      still waiting for much more than just a 4-core variant.

        • mnecaise
        • 8 years ago

        What he said…. I want one of the 4 module (8 core) processors to update my old development system.

          • ronch
          • 8 years ago

          The confusion… it’s begun..

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    I admit, Llano and Bulldozer are swell and all, but it’s Trinity I’m most interested in. It doesn’t have to be high end to blow the doors off laptop gaming in a big way given the stagnating console industry (and the ports coming from it).

    I like to imagine a Razer Blade sans the stupid gimmicks built with the highest end Trinity, 8+ GB DDR3 of super fast/overclocked memory, 1600×900 matte 15-17″ LED, one SSD OS drive via mATA, and two hd bays in the bottom for us to add our own drives. $500-600. Skip the dual core i7 and mediocre GF555. Skip to the end and give us Trinity.

    Straight up gaming. Improve an already somewhat impressive Trinity APU by raising the memory bandwidth to help compensate for the integrated GPU sharing memory with the CPU.

    Or let’s see the big makers (Sager, Alienware, Asus, MSI, Samsung, etc) give us standard Trinity-powered boxes for that price range. Suddenly, laptop gaming is great and easily available for all. Put in a sale and suddenly you’ve got gaming laptops well below the price that consoles typically start at.

    • Johnny5
    • 8 years ago

    In the multi-monitor setup the on-screen info is too far away from your main area of focus. Good luck using that tachometer.

      • Firestarter
      • 8 years ago

      it’d be pretty much perfect in a 3 monitor setup though

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      And I imagine you can’t adjust it by just chaning a setting in the control pannel..

    • Johnny5
    • 8 years ago

    I like how they just put a big curtain over all the wires.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    Everything being named for G1 Transformers might be enough to sway me. Can’t wait to see Mix Master. :p

    • link626
    • 8 years ago

    yes, but what is the cpu-only performance ?

    we know it can run games. even my current llano laptop runs games fine. i don’t expect any less from trinity on the gaming front.

    let’s see the cpu performance.

    on another note, i’m impressed that sandy bridge igp can even run games that well.
    people always bash intel igp, but it has beat out older ati and nvidia igps and entry level dedicated cards

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      CPU performance isnt their strong point, which is why you hear very little about it sadly. Clearly the CPU wont be able to beat SB or they would be saying “holy shit look at us beating sandy bridge, oh and have GPU performance years ahead of what Intel can offer!”

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      It only takes Intel’s dedication to do it. They have the means for serious R&D. Give it a few years.

    • abw
    • 8 years ago

    The laptop with the AMD logo look great…

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    Hmm “strapper”? Did I hear that right?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      Scrapper.

      [url<]http://transformers.wikia.com/wiki/Constructicon_(G1)[/url<]

    • glacius555
    • 8 years ago

    Wow.. That’s one dirty keyboard in the last shot..

      • Johnny5
      • 8 years ago

      I was looking at all the fingerprints on the lenses of the glasses (well without convergence or divergence it is technically not a lens but I don’t know what else to call it; a screen or a viewer maybe).

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    heres to hoping we actually get bulldozer this year.

      • atryus28
      • 8 years ago

      here’s to to hoping we actually get bulldozer this year AND it is worth while. I want to support AMD, I like supporting the underdog, but it’s getting hard to lately.

        • Farting Bob
        • 8 years ago

        I purchased my E-350 in the summer, doing my part in supporting them but when CPU performance comes before power consumption then Intel wins. My 2500K in my main system calculated a 100% chance of pwnage in 40% less time than AMD can calculate it.

          • willmore
          • 8 years ago

          My C-50 netbook beats the pants off of my Atom N450 based netbook. It’s sobering to think that it’s got better graphics performance than any Intel chip before SNB.

          [Edit] -1? Reply, AC.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            It’s sobering to realize that C-50 is dog-slow, and that there are much faster options out there with similar battery life. C-50 is cheap, yes, but tolerable? No.

            • Waco
            • 8 years ago

            How is it not tolerable? I tolerate my single-core hyperthreaded Atom and a C-50 is worlds better…

    • Meadows
    • 8 years ago

    Piledriver? Devastator? Bulldozer?

    Why the badassery? I believe they’re overcompensating for something.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Devastator is the Constructicon combiner. I’m guessing that isn’t coincidence, being a “Fusion” part and all. :p

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      A sexa-core CPU named “pile-driver” about made the legal team die of laughter.

        • willmore
        • 8 years ago

        Dilldozer was already taken.

      • TheEmrys
      • 8 years ago

      It DOES sound like they are coming out with a line of sex toys….

        • travbrad
        • 8 years ago

        The margins are better.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      I imagine AMD will consistently tweak the BD cores/modules just like they did with K7/K8/K10/K10.5/Llano. Unless BD has some neat performance headroom waiting in the wings, I imagine these Piledriver cores won’t be great improvements over the original BD in terms of IPC or clocking headroom on the same process node.

      Then again, the K5 started off simply matching the Pentium, then later surged past with a ~50% IPC advantage. And Athlon initially performed poorly, but knocked Intel’s socks off when it finally came out. Amazing how these things happen. It’s like there’s untapped potential just waiting to be unleashed. We’ll see how the BD story unfolds.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    Bulldozer delays notwithstanding, I have to agree that for a firm their size, they’re being remarkable productive.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This