Graphics, Hardware

AMD Revises the Llano Fusion APU Transistor Count


In a reaction to our AMD?s 2012 Mobile Strategy analysis, one of our readers accused us of not checking the facts in regards to the actual transistor count in AMD APUs. Given that practically every article we publish comes through several layers of fact checking and going through the presentations, we decided to check what is going on.

AMD Llano Explained at the Hot Chips 2011 Conference. Note the AMD engineering template
AMD Llano Explained at the Hot Chips 2011 Conference. Note the AMD engineering presentation template. 1.45 Billion transistors, 227mm2 die.

A quick result of our investigation rendered the fact that it is someone else who should probably dedicate some effort to get their facts straight. We are talking about none other than the company itself – Advanced Micro Devices. Apparently, Bulldozer was not the only instance where AMD supplied the public with an erroneous transistor count, but as it now turns out they have done the same for Llano as well.

While writing our article about Trinity APU we took the transistor count originally supplied at its launch last year. That number was confirmed in the Llano post-mortem presentation at the Hot Chips 2011 conference, and widely cited in various Llano reviews, including the AnandTech one. Back then the quad-core version of Llano counted no less than 1.45B transistors. Now, if you look at Trinity launch articles at various sites, you will find a different number, such as 1.178B transistors on AnandTech. You will also find sites such as  Tom’s Hardware and Tech Report state Llano as 1.45 billion transistors, while Trinity packs 1.30 billion. What remains unchanged is the die size, which has remained at the same 228mm² since Llano emerged in 2011.

Sounds familiar? Remember Bulldozer x86 architecture and the Zambezi die of yesteryear? Back then the transistor count was wrongly reported to be a whopping 2 billion, only to have it corrected down to 1.2B later on (again AnandTech as an example). You can also derive with a little math that back then Llano was still officially 1.45B.

The difference is, that in the case of Bulldozer AMD contacted the press on their own to have this count corrected. Not so this time. Apparently, most journalists happily copied whatever information was given to them during briefings about Trinity without even giving a second thought as to the accuracy of the information.

We have sent a request to AMD explaining the situation and will update this article as soon as it is available.