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Mobile CPUs: AMD A8 and A10 vs Core i5 and i7 (Llano, Trinity, Sandy and Ivy Bridge)
by Guillaume Louel
Published on August 30, 2012

For our tests we used three mobile platforms for each of the sockets represented. In order to put all the configurations on an equal footing with respect to energy consumption, we chose machines without additional graphics cards.

For FS1, the socket used by the AMD Llanos, we used a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E525 laptop. For the AMD Trinity solutions (socket FS2), we used a test machine supplied by AMD. For the Intel platform, used for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (PGA988), we used a Clevo W270EU equipped with the HM76 chipset.

Our three platforms were equipped with three different but relatively similar chipsets:

On the AMD side the only difference between the A60M, which equips the Llano platform, and the A70M, which equips the Trinity platform, is the addition of an NEC block that supports USB 3.0. The chip TDP hasn’t changed.

The Intel HM76 also supports USB 3.0, like its desktop equivalents. Still in line with the Intel desktop chipsets, only two SATA 6 Gb/s ports are supported here, which isn’t too much of an issue on the mobile side. RAID is however absent and is only used on very few laptops (Intel has some higher end versions of its chipset with RAID). The Intel chipset supports up to 8 PCI Express 2.0 lanes to interconnect additional chips. The AMD chipsets settle for four lanes. Once again, this is plenty for this type of configuration.

We have thus tested seven different processors, the specs of which are shown in this table.

In addition to Trinity, we have added the best Llano processor available at an equivalent TDP. We got our hands on two entry-level Sandy Bridge Core i5s with the 2410M (often now replaced with the 2430M, which is 100 MHz faster) and a quad core model at 45 Watts. Intel doesn’t have a 35 Watt quad core for Sandy Bridge. We have chosen the constructor's most affordable model, the 2630QM (once again, generally replaced by the 2670QM).

We also got hold of the most affordable of the dual core Ivy Bridge 35 Watt models, the 3210M. We also added two other quad cores. Intel has both 35 and 45 Watt models of its chips with some relatively obscure references. Thus the 3610 is a 45 Watt model and faster than the 3612, which is just a 35 Watt model. Once again we restricted ourselves to the least expensive models, though of course we don't know the real prices of these chips.

Generally speaking we're talking about Llano and Intel dual core machines with a starting price of around €600 (entirely variable depending on the configuration and the OEM!) and around €100 more for the quad core models. The exact positioning of the Trinity platforms, while still not on sale in stores, should be between the two, with AMD positioning the A10 opposite the Core i7 range.

The reference AMD Trinity platform

So as to put the machines on an equal footing, they were all tested with the same SSD, a Samsung 830 128 GB that we tested in this article.

Regarding the memory, we tested the machines both in single channel and dual channel. Unfortunately, many OEMs are still delivering machines with a single bar of memory, a hardly significant economy that can wreck performance as we’ll see further on. For information, the Llano machine that we used here was delivered with a single bar of memory. All machines were configured with 4 GB of memory (2x2 GB or 1x4 GB) for the tests. In theory, Llano, Trinity and Ivy Bridge support DDR3-1600 memory while Sandy Bridge is limited to DDR3-1333. In practice our Lenovo Llano platform wouldn’t accept DDR3-1600 and it ran rather at 1333 MHz on this platform. With laptops in fact SPD detection of bars can’t be relied on. It’s impossible on machines that we had to force a given memory setting on. In passing, in the ‘Advanced’ menu of one of our machines we could only find… an option to turn Bluetooth on or off. Very advanced!

The Wi-fi card, the optical drive and the battery were removed for the energy consumption readings, which were taken at the socket with a universal power adaptor so as not to be affected by variable yields of power supplies supplied by manufacturers. All our tests were also carried out using a 1366x768 screen, with the internal screen deactivated so as to enable us to provide as level a playing field as possible. Let’s move onto the tests!

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