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Wednesday, June 04, 2014
New Mobile Kaveri APU brings Steamroller, Graphics Core Next and HSA to Notebooks

AMD's most a Kaveri APU comes to mobile, bringing performance and power efficiency improvements, hoping to challenge Intel's Core processors. AMD also announced new branding and rolled out a Pro Series to challenge Intel's vPro in the enterprise.

Earlier this year, AMD brought its AMD A-Series APU family (codenamed Kaveri) to the DIY desktop market. The Kaveri mobile APU combines AMD's Steamroller x86 CPU and GCN GPU architectures, Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and AMD TrueAudio technology all in one package. Today the APU that comes to laptops includes up to 12 compute cores (4 CPU + 8 GPU) in an HSA design. Kaveri chips will go into laptops starting at around US$400, and be an alternative to Intel's Haswell CPUs, which dominate the market today.

The new chips will have up to four CPU and eight GPU cores, and draw between 17 and 35 watts of power. Laptops will offer up to nine hours of battery life, according to Kevin Lensing, the senior director of AMD's Mobility Product Line.

Kaveri's biggest architectural achievement is the pooling of CPU and GPU memory resources to increase the overall system memory available to all processors.

Kaveri is also AMD's first laptop chip that is compatible with HSA's Foundation's parallel programming specifications, which allows for faster program execution. HSA provides the underlying tools so code can be written and compiled once for execution across multiple processors in the chip.

Lenovo will sell a 15.6-inch Flex 2 starting at $429, 14-inch Flex 2 starting at $799, B50 and G50 laptops starting at $399, and Z-series laptops starting at $579.

Beyond better gaming, users will be able to get Kinect-like gesture recognition capabilities in laptops. For example, users can move a webcam around just by waving fingers, something that could not be easily achieved by earlier AMD chips. The CPU and GPU shaders are able to process the images of moving fingers, process them via algorithms, which then results in the webcam moving. This could be done with a basic webcam, Lensing said, adding that it wouldn't require expensive 3D cameras like Intel is recommending for gesture and face recognition on laptops.

The nine new A-series chips have clock speeds between 1.9GHz and 3.6GHz. The 2014 AMD A-Series Performance Mobile APU processors include AMD's first ever FX-branded mobile part. So the fastest Kaveri chip is the quad-core FX-7600P with eight Radeon R7 GPUs with clock speeds between 2.7GHz and 3.6GHz. The most power efficient is the A6 Pro-7050B dual-core chip with three Radeon R4 graphics cores, which operates at clock speeds between 2.2GHz and 3.0GHz.

AMD FX and A-Series Accelerated Processors
Model Radeon Brand  Compute Cores CPU
TDP Total L2
DDR3 Speed
FX-7600P Radeon R7 graphics 12
(4 CPU + 8 GPU)
3.6 GHz/
2.7 GHz
686 MHz 35 W 4 MB DDR3-2133
FX-7500 Radeon R7 graphics 10
(4 CPU + 6 GPU)
3.3 GHz/
2.1 GHz
553 MHz 19 W 4 MB DDR3-1600
A10-7400P Radeon R6 graphics 10
(4 CPU + 6 GPU)
3.4 GHz/
2.5 GHz
654 MHz 35 W 4 MB DDR3-1866
A10-7300 Radeon R6 graphics 10
(4 CPU + 6 GPU)
3.2 GHz/
1.9 GHz
533 MHz 19 W 4 MB DDR3-1600
A8-7200P Radeon R5 graphics 8
(4 CPU + 4 GPU)
3.3 GHz/
2.4 GHz
626 MHz 35 W 4 MB DDR3-1866
A8-7100 Radeon R5 graphics 8
(4 CPU + 4 GPU)
3.0 GHz/
1.8 GHz
514 MHz 19 W 4 MB DDR3-1600
A6-7000 Radeon R4 graphics 5
(2 CPU + 3 GPU)
3.0 GHz/
2.2 GHz
533 MHz 17 W 1 MB DDR3-1600

The FX chips will be targeted at premium laptops and take on Intel's fastest laptop chips, said Lensing. They promise to deliver a better gaming experience through support for Mantle, a low-level gaming API much like Microsoft's DirectX.

The top-of-the-line AMD FX-7600P APU delivers a total of 818 gigaflops of processing power, which Lensing said was "console-like." It includes Radeon R7 graphics has 12 compute cores, comprising of four Steamroller CPU cores running at up to 3.6GHz at Max Turbo, eight GCN GPU cores running at 686MHz and supporting DDR3-2133 memory. AMD claims its FX-7600P APU is 58 percent faster on graphics than Intel's Core i7-4500U chip, and 52 percent faster on overall system performance.

The other is the 19-watt AMD FX-7500 with six R7 Graphics GPUs and CPU clock speed between 2.1GHz and 3.3GHz. The chips have 4MB of cache and support DirectX 11.2 for gaming.

The 2014 Performance Mobile APUs also bring power efficiency with TDPs as low as 17W. This means that laptops with AMD Kaveri APUs can have up to 11 hours of battery life when using eReader applications or 9.2 hours when browsing the web.

Lensing showed an HP gaming laptop that he said will be one of the first to use the FX Series APUs.

AMD?s GCN architecture support Microsoft?s DirectX 11.2, meaning it can play the latest games, but it also supports OpenCL. This allows the power of the GPU to be used by applications to provide performance benefits. AMD claims that applications such as Adobe Photoshop CC can run up to 59 percent faster thanks to OpenCL acceleration, with functions such as Smart Sharpen being up to 384 percent faster than Intel's chips. The OpenCL performance of 2014 Performance Mobile APU helps general tasks such as JPEG picture decoding with the GPU helping decode images up to 81 percent faster when using AMD?s JPEG decoder.

Aside from 3D graphics, AMD has generally shied away from performance comparisons with Core processors because the CPU performance has fallen short. That no longer seems to be the case. "Across the board on benchmarks we actually go toe-to-toe, and in many cases beat the Core i7," Lensing claimed.

As with all benchmarks supplied by vendors, you need to take these with a grain of salt, and wait for independent tests. But it is nonetheless interesting to see AMD directly challenging Intel on CPU performance once again.

AMD has also introduced a professional line of the Performance Mobile APUs to challenge Intel is business laptops (vPro). Designed especially with business, AMD PRO A-Series components enable open, industry-standard DASH manageability. The new AMD Pro Series has three features that separate it from the consumer version. First, the Pro APU will outperform its consumer counterpart. Second, the same Pro models will be available longer. Finally, AMD is promising a more stable software image with few changes to the BIOS or drivers.

AMD PRO A-Series Accelerated Processors
Model Radeon Brand  Compute Cores CPU
TDP Total L2
DDR3 Speed
A10 PRO - 7350B Radeon R6 graphics 10
(4 CPU + 6 GPU)
3.3 GHz/
2.1 GHz
553 MHz 19 W 4 MB DDR3-1600
A8 PRO -7150B Radeon R5 graphics 10
(4 CPU + 6 GPU)
1.9 GHz/
3.2 GHz
553 MHz 19 W 4 MB DDR3-1600
A6 PRO -7050B Radeon R4 graphics 5
(2 CPU + 3 GPU)
3.0 GHz/
2.2 GHz
553 MHz 17 W 1 MB DDR3-1600

HP will be using mobile Kaveri PROs-series APUs in three of their Elitebook Pro laptops that are designed to undergo MIL-SPEC 810G testing. HP?s Elitebook Pro 725 G2, Elitebook Pro 745 G2 and Elitebook Pro 755 G2 make use of Kaveri's compute and graphics power by supporting Full-HD screen resolutions.

AMD’s Embedded G-Series family has also gotten bigger with the company's latest x86 System-on-chip (SoC), previously codenamed "Steppe Eagle" and the x86 central processing unit (CPU), previously codenamed "Crowned Eagle."

AMD says that the Embedded G-Series "Steppe Eagle" SoC offers a 60 percent CPU intensive performance jump from previous G-Series SoC solutions, with a configurable TDP as low as 5W. "Steppe Eagle" is an efficient SoC, with a 96 percent improvement in overall performance-per-watt and is designed to work in harsh environments.

The "Steppe Eagle" SoC includes a graphics processing unit based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture. This allows "Steppe Eagle" to produce high-quality graphics and because it supports OpenCL, provides immense compute capability.

AMD's latest Embedded G-Series SoCs also combine enterprise-grade technology such as ECC support and the AMD platform security processor (PSP). AMD PSP is built upon ARM’s TrustZone architecture and provides protection against malicious software threats.

Alongside "Steppe Eagle," AMD is launching a new 64-bit x86 CPU previously known as "Crowned Eagle." This CPU is designed to meet the demand for high performance network services due to the proliferation of the cloud. "Crowned Eagle" is designed for networking and communications infrastructure equipment, with features such as PCI-Express Gen 2.0, USB 3.0 and single-channel DDR3-1600 memory with ECC support and TDP as low as 5W.

To address the need for demand for data security protocols such as IPSec, "Crowned Eagle" incorporates an on-chip security processor that allows for fan-less security appliances, such as network infrastructure equipment, Network Attached Storage appliances and storage controllers.

The new AMD G-Series SoC and CPU solutions are pin-compatible, allowing AMD's customers to design common boards and slot in the G-Series SoC of choice without having to invest in hardware and software tooling.

AMD is a also gold-level sponsor of the Yocto Project - a Linux Foundation Collaboration Project. The company has also recently signed a multi-year agreement with Mentor Graphics, a major contributor in the open source community, giving developers access to customized embedded Linux development and commercial support on our AMD G-Series family of chips.

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