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Llano Performance with Discrete Graphics

If you use a powerful graphics accelerator in a Llano based system, it makes sense to disable the Radeon HD 6550D graphics core integrated into the APU, because in Dual Graphics mode the performance will actually drop. In this chapter we will see how Lynx system performs in our standard testbed with an AMD Radeon HD 6970 graphics card.

General Performance

As usual, we use Bapco SYSmark suite to estimate the processor performance in general-purpose tasks. It emulates the usage models in popular office and digital content creation and processing applications. The idea behind this test is fairly simple: it produces a single score characterizing the average computer performance.

Bapco has recently updated their testing suite and released SYSmark 2012, which includes new versions of popular applications and even more realistic usage scenarios. Unfortunately, AMD wasn’t happy with the way their processors performed in SYSmark 2012 and they initiated an argument with the benchmark developers. However, after carefully weighing the pros and cons we found AMD’s arguments unconvincing. The major issue was the fact that the new SYSmark 2012 suite didn’t include applications accelerated by the graphics cores in AMD APUs. However, do not forget that there are not many applications like that out there yet and the existing ones are not very popular at this time. Especially, since the stream processors of the APU graphics core are unavailable anyway during the tests of systems equipped with add-on graphics cards.

In other words, we decided not to turn our back at SYSmark 2012 and for now will continue using it for our performance testing. Especially, since in our opinion, the applications included into this suite are quite current and appropriate for drawing conclusions about the systems performance. Namely, SYSmark 2012 includes: ABBYY FineReader Pro 10.0, Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, Adobe After Effects CS5, Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Adobe Flash player 10.1, AutoDesk 3DS Max 2011, AutoDesk AutoCAD 2011, Google Sketchup Pro 8, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Office 2010, Mozilla Firefox Installer, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 and Winzip Pro 14.5.

It is actually quite logical that AMD is unhappy about the results in SYSmark 2012. A8-3800 is 33% behind Core 13-2100, but this is hardly unexpected outcome. Yes, A8-3800 is a quad-core processor, while Core i3-2100 has only two cores. However, Intel’s CPU supports Hyper-Threading, is based on more progressive microarchitecture and works at 30% higher clock frequency than AMD A8-3800.

Moreover, low clock frequency placed A8-3800 behind Intel Pentium G850 and even behind the previous-generation Athlon II X4 630. Unfortunately, it is a serious bottleneck of the new processor and even Turbo Core technology doesn’t make up for it fully. Having equipped their new Llano with a powerful graphics core and then trying to fit the CPU’s heat dissipation into acceptable range, AMD had to sacrifice the common x86-performance. Therefore, Llano doesn’t really shine in general-purpose tasks that haven’t been adapted for the whole AMD Fusion concept.

Let’s take a closer look at the performance scores SYSmark 2012 generates in different usage scenarios.

Office Productivity scenario emulates typical office tasks, such as text editing, electronic tables processing, email and Internet surfing. This scenario uses the following applications: ABBYY FineReader Pro 10.0, Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Outlook 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Microsoft Word 2010 and WinZip Pro 14.5.

Media Creation scenario emulates the creation of a video clip using previously taken digital images and videos. Here they use popular Adobe suites: Photoshop CS5 Extended, Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5.

Web Development is a scenario emulating web-site designing. It uses the following applications: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.

Data/Financial Analysis scenario is devoted to statistical analysis and prediction of market trends performed in Microsoft Excel 2010.

3D Modeling scenario is fully dedicated to 3D objects and rendering of static and dynamic scenes using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, Autodesk AutoCAD 2011 and Google SketchUp Pro 8.

The last scenario called System Management creates backups and installs software and updates. It involves several different versions of Mozilla Firefox Installer and WinZip Pro 14.5.

Summing up the obtained results we should say that A8-3800 performs fairly well only in 3D Modeling test, where four fully-functional x86-cores is a very serious argument in the fight against dual-core Sandy Bridge CPUs. However, note that the new A8-3800 processor is always behind one of the slowest members of the Athlon II X4 family. So, if we look at Llano as a common CPU, and not an APU, then we can hardly call it a step forward at this point.

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