Back in the days we were not very optimistic about AMD’s attempt to push their first hybrid Llano processors into the desktop segment. Of course, they were unique and interesting in their own way, but mostly in theoretical perspective. In reality, it was fairly difficult to picture what type of desktop systems they could dominate.
However, Trinity is a completely different story. Their graphics performance is not just high according to the contemporary integrated solutions’ standards: they allow running 3D games in FullHD resolution! And it is a true qualitative leap forward making Trinity a worthy option for an entry-level gaming system. The x86 performance of Trinity’s computational cores is also quite decent, as we have just seen. The top members of this new family are almost as fast as Intel Core i3 CPUs. In other words, they will offer sufficient speed for contemporary general purpose systems.
Summing up these two aspects we see that Socket FM2 platform and Trinity processors have a good chance of taking over a good share of the home systems. Of course, hardcore enthusiasts and dedicated gaming fans will hardly fall in love with this product, but the average mainstream users who enjoy occasional gaming, surf the Web, work with some multimedia content and maybe some relatively simple specific applications may find Trinity an excellent product for their needs. In this case, Socket FM2 platform will not only save you some money, but will allow building a compact, quiet and energy-efficient system (including SFF or HTPC). However, to make this possible AMD shouldn’t limit the supplies of their processors with 65 W TDP, as they did with Llano for some reason, and the mainboard makers should come up with a variety of miniature mainboards with an attractive price tag.
At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that according to our tests, Trinity processors are only attractive while there is no discrete graphics card in the picture. The thing is that x86 Piledriver cores are still not that fast in games compared with the competitors. And while it is not very important when the integrated graphics core is involved, because the gaming performance is in this case limited by the 3D graphics accelerator and doesn’t hit the bottleneck of the computing resources, then with faster external graphics this disappointing issue may surface pretty quickly.
As for the idea of heterogeneous calculations implemented in the hybrid AMD processors, we doubt that it will help Trinity’s market success. Overall, the software eco-system is not quite ready yet for calculations acceleration via OpenCL or Direct Compute. We cannot deny, there is some progress in this direction. For example, WinZIP archiving utility is now able to utilize the graphics core resources, Photoshop CS6 and GIMP have a few corresponding filters, and there are a few utilities for image and video processing (such as Musemage or vReveal). However, it is still too early to take the whole APU ideology for a new standard. Most resource-hungry applications, which we work with on everyday basis, continue to utilize primarily the x86 cores. Besides, AMD hasn’t yet come up with a solution that would allow using the GPU resources if there is a discrete graphics card installed into the system, and third-party technologies, such as LucidLogix Virtu MVP, are not that easy to work with and can’t boast neither stability nor flexibility.