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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
AMD's New Mobile APUs Integrate ARM Security Core


Samsung has revealed the Galaxy K zoom, the new camera specialized smartphone that features 10x optical zoom, 20.7 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS), AF/AE Separation and more.

Codenamed Beema and Mullins, these are the 2014 updates to Kabini and Temash (respectively). Beema is aimed at entry level notebooks, while Mullins targets tablets.

These new mobile APUs feature up to four newly-designed x86 CPU cores with updated, AMD Radeon graphics and a hardware-level data security solution based on the ARM Cortex-A5, all on a single system-on-chip (SoC). Products based on these new APUs are already announced by Lenovo and Samsung, with many more expected on-shelf in time for the 2014 back-to-school shopping season.

The 2014 AMD Mainstream and Low-Power Mobile APUs are designed for consumer and commercial mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, from fanless tablets to 2-in-1s like detachable and convertible notebooks, to small-screen and ultrathin laptops. They feature up to four x86_64 "Puma+" CPU cores and AMD Radeon R Series graphics based on Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. Additional power management features integrated into the APUs include:

  • AMD Enduro technology that enables longer battery life;
  • AMD Start Now technology for quick boot-up and resume from sleep mode;
  • AMD Turbo Core technology that senses when a computing task requires more performance.
AMD Beema And Mullins APUs
Model
Radeon Brand
SDP
TDP
CPU Cores
CPU Clock Speed (Max)
L2 Cache
Radeon Cores
GPU Clock Speed (Max)
DDR3 Speed (Max)
A6-6310
R4
15W
4
2.4GHz
2MB
128
800MHz
1866
A4-6210
R3
15W
4
1.8GHz
2MB
128
600MHz
1600
E2-6110
R2
15W
4
1.5GHz
2MB
128
500MHz
1600
E1-6010
R2
10W
2
1.35GHz
1MB
128
350MHz
1333
A10 Micro-6700T
R6
2.8W
4.5W
4
2.2GHz
2MB
128
500MHz
1333
A4 Micro-6400T
R3
2.8W
4.5W
4
1.6GHz
2MB
128
350MHz
1333
E1 Micro-6200T
R2
2.8W
3.95W
2
1.4GHz
1MB
128
300MHz
1066

Marking AMD's first implementation of ARM-based technology into processors designed for consumer and commercial client devices, the 2014 AMD Mainstream and Low-Power APUs feature an AMD-developed platform security processor (PSP) based on the ARM Cortex-A5 featuring ARM TrustZone technology for enhanced data security. These are the first and only x86 processors available to integrate an ARM core for security. The integrated PSP taps into the open standards-based ARM TrustZone ecosystem and partitions the new processors into two "virtual CPUs" -- a "secure world" and a "normal world" based on the type of data being processed -- and ensures secure storage and processing of sensitive data and trusted apps including online payments, digital rights management and enterprise- and web-based services.

According to AMD, its 2014 AMD Mainstream APUs ("Beema") deliver up to 100% better graphics performance over the previous generation ("Kabini"); up to 20% power reduction versus the previous generation ("Kabini"); increased memory support from the previous generation to DDR3-1866; up to 50% better graphics performance and up to 7x the compute performance versus Intel Pentium ("Haswell U") and; up to 3x the graphics performance and over 35% better system performance than Intel Pentium ("Bay Trail M").

AMD also claims that its new Low-Power APUs ("Mullins") offer over 2x the graphics performance-per-watt and nearly 2x the productivity performance-per-Watt versus AMD's previous generation (formerly codenamed "Temash"); better graphics performance than Intel Core i3 and three times the compute performance of Intel's Atom processor.

Beema and Mullins can turbo up to much higher frequencies. In the case of Mullins in particular, since it’s so thermally constrained, the potential upside for frequency scaling is huge. The frequency gains aren't just limited to the CPU, the 128 GCN cores can also run at higher speeds with Beema and Mullins:

AMD managed to hit significantly higher frequencies without a substantial architecture change or new process node, by raising the max thermal operating point of the silicon.

Previously once the silicon temperature hit 60C, AMD would cap max CPU/GPU frequency. With Beema and Mullins, AMD increases the silicon temperature limit to around 100C (still within physical limits) but instead relies on the surface temperature of the device to determine when to throttle back the CPU/GPU. In AMD’s own words, this allows the SoC to run at a much higher frequency for up to several minutes before having to scale back down.

The trick is that AMD is able to enable this new chassis temperature governed boost without requiring any additional sensors or hardware from the OEM. What AMD does instead is gives the OEM tools to properly map SoC temperature to chassis skin temperature.

These new processors also have several software capabilities:

  • AMD Gesture Control - enables touch-free control of popular apps using hand gestures
  • AMD Face Login - uses facial recognition for logging into popular websites
  • Premium BlueStacks optimized for AMD - brings a full Android experience to Windows PCs
  • AMD Quick Stream Technology - delivers virtually uninterrupted streaming video
  • AMD Perfect Picture - boosts image quality automatically for enhanced color, contrast and resolution
  • AMD Steady Video technology - helps smooth jittery videos with a single click

It seems that although AMD has not made significant changes to the architecture or manufacturing process, its 2014 updates to its entry level and low power silicon are substantial. According to the first reviews that have surfaced online, Puma+ delivers performance that comparable to Intel’s Bay Trail and still, it holds a GPU performance advantage. Still, it is unclear how these new SoCs stack up against Bay Trail when it comes to power consumption.

AMD expects to see Beema and Mullins designs show up over the next 1 - 2 quarters.



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