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AMD Kaveri Mobile – evolution continues. Reporting / Processors and memory

At the beginning of the year, AMD introduced desktop processors Kaveri. Even then, there was little doubt that the manufacturer would sooner or later release a mobile version of such hybrid chips. As a result, this event had to wait almost six months – the official announcement of new APUs for laptops took place within the framework of the exhibition Computex 2014.

 

AMD Kaveri mobile APUs have almost all the same advantages as their desktop counterparts. At the heart of the processors is the modern microarchitecture Steamroller, and the chips are manufactured for the “thinest” AMD technology process available – 28 nm. AMD calls APU Kaveri the most advanced hybrid processor – indeed, the new products boast support for a number of unique technologies.

Sunnyvale company prefers to consider Kaveri processors as 12-core solutions. In fact, CPU-cores in mobile KAUU APUs are only four, the other eight are the graphics subsystem. However, do not take this step of the company as a usual marketing ploy – of course, there has been no marketing here, but AMD has reason to carry out these generalizations. It’s all about supporting the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) specification, which provides for the ability of parallel processing of data by CPU and GPU cores. Thanks to hUMA (heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access) technology, all processor cores of the processor can use shared memory and a single address space. This eliminates the need for additional data copying when processing them with CPU- and GPU-cores and in theory should increase performance – of course, with software support.

The graphics component in AMD Kaveri processors is represented by the Radeon R7-based solutions based on the GCN architecture (in older models, the younger ones use the solutions of the previous generations – Radeon R6 and R5). This means that the Microsoft DirectX 11.2 API is supported, as well as AMD Mantle’s proprietary technology, due to which the performance in some games is doubled. The GPU in the top processor AMD Kaveri runs at 686 MHz, and the theoretical total performance is stated at 818 Gflops. To get acquainted with all the features of AMD Kaveri processor architecture it is possible in a detailed review by Ilya Gavrichenkov

Other interesting features of AMD Kaveri mobile processors include support for AMD proprietary technologies: TrueAudio, Eyefinity, Face Login, Gesture Control, Turbo Core, Quick Stream, Wireless Display, Perfect Picture, Start Now and Enduro. Of course, in full, these technologies are supported only by older solutions. For example, AMD Face Login allows you to authorize on various websites by recognizing a person that is carried out using a webcam laptop, so you do not need to drive passwords. The technology of wireless connection of displays AMD Wireless Display allows you to exchange content without any wires, ensuring smooth viewing of video in HD-quality.

So, the new family of mobile processors AMD Kaveri includes nine different models. An interesting moment is the emergence of the AMD FX brand in mobile chips: two models, FX-7600P and FX-7500, should defend the honor of the once popular brand. The older chip should be told in more detail – it is on its example that we will try to estimate the performance gain of new processors in comparison with its predecessors. So, AMD FX-7600P contains 12 “computing” cores (4 CPUs + 8 GPUs), operates at 2.7 GHz, which in turbo mode can go up to 3.6 GHz, is equipped with 4 MB of second-level cache memory and can work with memory modules DDR3-2133. Its TDP is limited to 35 W.

We decided to compare the processor with one of its predecessors – APU AMD A10-5750M and low-voltage Intel processor from the new Intel Core series of the 4th generation i7-4200U. We also tested the graphics part of the new APU and compared it not only with the previous solution – AMD Radeon HD 8650G, but also with the discrete mobile NVIDIA GeForce 840M video adapter built on the latest NVIDIA Maxwell architecture. Unfortunately, the time taken to get acquainted with the new processor was limited to several hours, so we did not physically manage to perform a full cycle of tests. Also, the results of one of the PCMark 8 subtests – Creative – were taken from AMD for the reason already mentioned.

Here you can confirm the accuracy of the information specified in the description.

Features of the compared notebooks
Notebook Displaying the display The processor Memory Graphics The accumulator The battery OS
AMD Kaveri Mobile Sample 15.6 ”
1920×1080
AMD FX-7600P;
2.7 (3.6) GHz, 2x 2Mbytes L2;
Four cores, TDP 35 W
2 x 4 GB DDR3L-1866 AMD Radeon R7 Series (Built-in CPU) SSD 256 GB (SAMSUNG MZHPU256HCGL) Windows 8.1, 64 Bit, SL
Lenovo G505S 15.6 ”
TN
1366×768
AMD A10-5750M;
2.5 (3.5) GHz, 2x 2 Mbytes L2;
Four cores, TDP 35 W
2 x 4 GB DDR3L-1600 AMD Radeon HD 8650G (Built-in CPU) HDD 1 TB (Seagate ST1000LM024) Detachable, 41 W · h
(2800 mAh, 14.88 V)
ASUS Zenbook UX32L 13.3 ”
IPS
1920×1080
Intel Core i7-4200U
1.6 (2.6) GHz 3 MB L3;
Two cores, TDP 15 W
1 x 6 GB DDR3L-1600 NVIDIA GeForce 840M (2 GB GDDR3) HDD 1 TB (HGST HTS541010A7E630) Built-in, 50 W · h
(4300 mAh, 11.3 V)

Before proceeding to the tests, let’s recall what ended the familiarity with the desktop processor AMD A10-7850K, the fastest of the new AMD Kaveri APU:

In general, Kaveri turned out to be a very ambiguous product, and opinions about it can drastically vary depending on what angle to look at the novelty. The new processor is extremely interesting because it develops the concept of heterogeneous computing and introduces HSA technology, which allows software developers to easily go on to write algorithms that run on the computing clusters of the graphics core. It seems, a little more – and AMD will achieve that new applications will run on its processors no worse than on Intel’s CPU. To do this, Kaveri has all the necessary resources and, most importantly, a huge theoretical computing power, which lies in the graphics core. However, not all so simple. While there are not many even simple optimized for OpenCL applications, and the effectiveness of existing implementations of heterogeneous computing leaves much to be desired. Another thing – the game. Most of today’s games can be played on A10-7850K in Full HD resolution, and many of them, for example popular network projects, are quite tolerable even with medium or high quality images.

⇡ # Testing the processor

Let’s remind once again that the results of one of the subtests, namely PCMark 8 Creative, were provided by AMD for the reason that its “run” takes about two hours, and all testing was allotted only four hours. Unfortunately, this subtest was made using the OpenCL working environment, thanks to which the processor was assisted by the video adapter. Usually, the 3DNews test lab does not use this option to speed up the computation, but this time we simply did not have a choice due to the lack of time allocated for acquaintance with the new mobile APU.

In a single-threaded benchmark estimating the speed of audio encoding conversion, the AMD FX-7600P processor was slightly faster than its predecessor and slower than the competitor from Intel.

In the benchmark made on the basis of Adobe Photoshop CS6, we see similar results, although here it is worthwhile to make one small clarification. The laptop with the new APU used SSD-drive, which could accelerate the caching process with a lack of RAM.

In the PCMark 8 test package, we see the superiority of the new AMD FX-7600P over the old AMD A10-5750M in all three tests. That’s only the Intel Core i7-4200U with TDP 17W was faster than its competitors in the subtests Work and Home. In the Creative subtest, this CPU is not represented because it had to be done using OpenCL, and the ultrabook ASUS Zenbook UX32L is no longer in the test lab.

In the synthetic gaming tests, the new APU proved to be very worthy. In the synthetic benchmark 3DMark, it is almost twice as fast as its predecessor in all three tests. ASUS Zenbook UX32L in this discipline again does not participate, because the test laptop AMD was installed 3DMark a new version, the results of tests which are incompatible with our 3DMark 1.1.

In the game Bioshock Infinite processor graphics AMD FX-7600P almost managed to catch up with the discrete video adapter NVIDIA GeForce 840M, which is very good. With minimal graphics settings and 1366×768 resolution, the AMD Radeon R7 Series processor core was able to overcome the 60 FPS barrier, and with the maximum settings, it’s closer to the discrete NVIDIA solution.

⇡ # Conclusions

As noted, the testing was preliminary – we can make full conclusions only after we receive the first commercial products based on AMD Kaveri Mobile and test it in our laboratory.

So, in the testing of CPU cores alone, the superiority of the new APU with the Steamroller architecture relative to the old APU with the Piledriver architecture turned out quite noticeable, unlike the situation with desktop processors. Although it is still beyond the power of the new processors to catch up with Intel solutions, even with half the heat and the number of cores. However, it should be noted that if all our benchmarks were compatible with HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) technology, which allows processing the same data using CPU and GPU, the test results could be quite different. In its discussions about the power of the new APU, AMD is focusing on such parallel computing, but as soon as such an opportunity is realized in the software – it depends only on the developers of the programs.

As for the graphic video core, it turned out quite fast: in our benchmarks it not only left far behind its predecessor AMD Radeon HD 8650G, but it also managed to get close enough to discrete NVIDIA GeForce 840M graphics cards that for processor graphics very good. So, with reasonable pricing, laptops based on new AMD processors will become excellent inexpensive solutions for game lovers.

We thank the company “Yulmart” for the laptop Lenovo provided for testing.

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