Trinity Joins The Front Line In The AMD-Intel Chip Battle

May 29, 2012
The long-fought chip war between AMD and its archrival Intel has entered a new phase. Will history repeat itself as Trinity challenges Intel’s Ivy Bridge?
The long-fought chip war between Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and its archrival Intel has entered a new phase following the launch of a processor that AMD says will give computer gamers a superior experience while offering prolonged battery life.

AMD’s Trinity targets Intel’s Ivy Bridge. Like its rival, Trinity has four CPUs and a graphics processing unit (GPU). It also can be enabled to run at 17 W, which AMD claims will allow some laptops to run for 12 hours, although independent confirmation is not yet available.

Trinity can handle high-definition games on systems without discrete graphics cards, delivering high-definition 1080 resolution performance at 30 frames/s. AMD also says Trinity boasts 25% better CPU performance and greater GPU capability. And, Trinity can provide AMD’s stabilisation feature, which steadies shaky videos.

But don’t expect Trinity to beat Intel once and for all. Intel has many customers, and their systems already are committed to Intel technology. As a result, Intel enjoys production-related economies of scale for greater price competitiveness, especially when a new competitive device is trying to win a slice of market share.

Saving Energy

Implemented in AMD’s CPU cores, the Piledriver architecture provides an energy-saving resonant clock mesh technology that enables it to “recycle” some of the energy consumed as it carries out calculations. AMD has licensed the technology from Cyclos Semiconductor, a firm created by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The researchers based the technology on the principle that electrical energy can be reclaimed and recycled in digital semiconductors, in much the same way that kinetic energy is reclaimed and recycled in hybrid automobiles. It therefore uses less power to perform the same computations as its conventional counterparts.

Cyclos says that semiconductor designers can slash their chips’ power consumption by up to 30% with its Resonant Clock Mesh (RCM) technology. RCM works by introducing inductive-capacitive oscillators in mesh-based high-performance clock distribution networks to provide frequency-locked, high-performance, precision timing while dissipating almost no power.

The RCM technology does not demand changes in the specification-design-verification flow, providing time-to-market advantages. The Cyclos RCM technology can be deployed by adding Cyclos drop-in intellectual property and the Cyclos RCM Compiler to any standard synthesis-APR flow.

Deja Vu

Are we reliving those AMD-Intel battles that occurred when AMD launched its Athlon processor at the same time that Intel unveiled its Pentium 3? I think we are. Like the Trinity device, the Athlon provided certain operational advantages.

For instance, the Athlon was bullet-quick even compared to the 600-MHz Pentium 3. But despite that, Intel still held the advantage with a much larger user/customer base and a more aggressive and successful marketing strategy.

So will history repeat itself as Trinity challenges Intel’s Ivy Bridge? Maybe, but only time and the price points will tell.



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