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Demo shows AMD mobile Llano APU bettering Intel's Sandy Bridge chip

by Tarinder Sandhu on 2 March 2011, 21:24


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An opportunity missed

AMD had a golden opportunity to increase visibility in the mobile and desktop markets when Intel slipped up with its Sandy Bridge launch.

While Intel has spent the last month rectifying manufacturing defects in the silicon that powers the SATA 3Gbps ports on Sandy Bridge CPUs' supporting Cougar chipset, AMD should have been making hay with its Llano APU.

In case your technology knowledge isn't encyclopaedic, Llano is the codename for what AMD terms an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), which is a fusion of the CPU and GPU on to one piece of silicon. Llano brings together a dual- or quad-core CPU and mid-range DX11 GPU on to one chip, and it's modular enough to be scaled for laptop and low-to-mid-range desktop usage with ease.

Manufacturing problems at foundry partner GlobalFoundries have resulted in Llano being later to market than initially expected. The current consensus contends that GlobalFoundries is working overtime to deliver 32nm-based Llano chips to AMD.

Llano laptops and desktop APUs will be shipping in volume in Q3 2011, though AMD's partners are likely to show them at June's COMPUTEX trade show in Taipei, Taiwan.

Undaunted by the slipped schedule, AMD reckons that the mobile variant of Llano is better than Intel's impressive Sandy Bridge CPUs for all-round work. To this end, the firm demonstrated an unreleased Llano mobile chip up against an Intel Core i7-2630QM in a range of multi-tasking applications that tax both the CPU and GPU portions of the chips.

The AMD-controlled video, below, clearly shows that, while the Intel Core i7 is king for pure CPU compute, Llano's GPU does a better job at keeping things moving along when the system is genuinely stressed. This is decent appreciating that overall power-draw, according to AMD, is no more than a premium Sandy Bridge chip's.

It's advisable to take AMD's supposed hegemony with a dose of caution, especially as the tests are tailored to position the firm in the very best possible light, but the mid-range DX11 GPU portion of the APU - likely to be called Radeon HD 6620M - seems capable enough for mid-range laptops. AMD really could have done with it at the top of the year, though.

Click for more from CeBIT 2011

HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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I'm pretty impressed, even allowing for the AMD-biased aspect of things.
I run machines now that I consider to be ‘good enough’ that struggle to play back 1080p alone, never mind anything else concurrent.

Edit: Actually there is one other thing worth mentioning, and it's a hope really, but a potentially big one.
If AMD can find some way to allow the on-board GPU for alot of the calculation work, yet also allow (concurrent) discrete GPU for gaming such as my Radeon 6850, then I might be very taken. I feel that Intel really dropped the ball with the whole on-board ‘GPU / Quick Sync / ’H' series chipset / no discrete GPU' requirements, making a complete mess of what could have been very good. AMD have a real opportunity here to become very appealing to a good many people, especially gamers.
Yes, it certainly looks very good, the only downside being that we probably won't see a Laptop with Llano until July… I'm looking to buy a laptop soon and *was* looking at an i3 or i5 based laptop. I might sit tight now and wait, since AMD are bound to be cheaper anyway.
Very good news for laptops and mainstream/budget pcs, which is where the money is at. I think they've hit the nail on the hid by aiming to get a “good experience”.

Of course the benefits go out the window when you throw in a discreet card but it will certainly open up casual gaming for laptops.
“I'm pretty impressed, even allowing for the AMD-biased aspect of things.”

Agreed, but what i am really inetersted in is the dual-core SKU sporting what i believe is termed the “beavercreek” GPU.

If this has a 25W TDP then it promises to be an awesome APU for a slimline 12" chassis.