Indian fans of AMD finally have something to cheer about – the latest AMD Trinity laptops are here in India.
However, only one model, from HP, seems to have been launched yet.
AMD Trinity is the most advanced version of AMD’s ‘Fusion’ series of chips that combine both the CPU and a graphics core or GPU.
It was a year ago that the Fusion chips were launched in India. The first fusion chips comprised the C series (C-50, C-60) targeted at the netbook market and the E Series (E-300, E-350, E-450) targeted at the entry-level laptop market.
About three months ago, laptops based on the more powerful quad-core A Series (A4, A6) started turning up in India as well.
The A Series chips available in India so far, such as the A6 3420M and the A6-3400M, were built on the rather old K10 ‘Husky’ (Llano) architecture. The K10 architecture is relatively old, dating back to the late 2000s.
However, laptops based on the 32-nanometer Llano chips have been moderately successful over the last three months, as they offered powerful graphics (as good as a separate mid range GPU) and a main processor of low-to-medium power.
The Llano-based 3400 and 3420 chips had the 6000 series of ATI graphics card built into them, giving them strong graphics capabilities.
Costing about Rs 27,000-32,000, the A series notebooks were about 10-20% cheaper than the cheapest Intel-based PCs with comparable graphics capabilities.
However, they suffered from one drawback — weak processing power. The Husky cores were no match to Intel’s second generation Core-i processors.
The A6 3400 chip, for example, ran at a basic clockspeed of just 1.4 GHz, while the 420 ran at 1.5 GHz. In comparison, even the cheapest Intel chips ran at 2.2 GHz.
It is this shortcoming that has been fixed in the new Trinity-based notebooks.
The Trinity chips (called APUs or accelerated processing units by AMD) are based on a more recent architecture called Bulldozer.
Unlike the Llano platform (A6 3400,3420) which was based on the old Husky design, the Bulldozer architecture is a total rewrite from the ground up. The architecture, released in late 2011, however was seen as power hungry and unsuitable for laptops.
The Trinity APUs are, therefore based on a refined version of the bulldozer, called Piledriver.
AMD has released three Trinity chips for mainstream laptops so far — 4400M (A6), 4500M (A8) and 4600M (A10).
The first one is dual core, while the other two are quad core (four core).
Unlike the 3400 and 3420, these new chips have a base frequency of 1.9 GHz to 2.7 GHz. The new chips are estimated to be about 25-30% more powerful than the comparable older ones.
In graphics, they are estimated to be about 50% better, and come with the 7000 series of Radeon GPUs.
There are two types of Trinity chips — 35 watt mainstream ones and 17 & 25 watt ‘Ultrathin’. Unfortunately, the HP model launched in India, the Pavilion G6-2005AX, comes with the 35-watt A8 4500M. The 4500 is more powerful than the 4400, but has less power than the 4600.
That means that battery life is no better than the 3 hours (on a 6-cell battery) that the earlier ones based on A6 3400 and 3420.
The Pavilion has 4 GB of RAM, an HD screen (not full HD) and the processor has a basic speed of 1.9 GHz that can rise up to 2.8 GHz when work load increases.
In terms of power, the CPU may be compared to a second/third generation Core-i 5, but its graphics capabilities are reported to be better than those on even the third generation Core-i processors to be launched this year.
The HP model is priced at Rs 32,667 on Flipkart. Interestingly, that is about Rs 100 less than what the HP Pavilion G6-1313AX — which has the Husky-based A6 3420 costs on the same website.
In conclusion, it may be said that the new model is suitable for those looking for a ‘normal’ laptop for every day use, including gaming.
Due to its superior graphics, the model may remain a better choice than even third-generation Core-i3 equipped models — when they become available in a couple of months. Most users today tend to watch online videos at higher and higher definition, which requires graphical horsepower.
In comparison, tasks that require very high processing power — such as video format conversion — are not part of most people’s everyday life.
In addition, latest Intel-based models with separate graphics cards are likely to start at around Rs 37,000. That said, battery-life of notebooks based on the new third generation Core-i processors are likely to offer about 20-25% more battery-life, going by initial indications from the industry.
Another area to watch out for will be the Ultrathin / Ultrabook market.
Based on the Ultrathin Trinity chips, HP has launched Ultrathin (like Ultrabook) models globally.
The 14-inch Envy Sleekbook weighs about 1.7 kg, compared to the 2.5 kg that the Pavilion G6-2005AX weighs.
While the Pavilion gives a battery life of about 3 hours, the Sleekbook is promising 8-9 hours, implying about 6 to 7 hours in actual use.
The Sleekbook is less than 2 cm thick, while the Pavilion is 3.63 mm thick.
While Intel’s Ultrabooks typically cost about Rs 60,000, the Trinity-powered Ultrathins are likely to come for about Rs 45,000.