AMD Mobile Kaveri SKUs

The previous generation Trinity/Richland APUs came in four variants: at the top were the highest performance 35W TDP standard voltage (SV) parts, and then we dropped into the ultra-low voltage (ULV) range with several variations: 25W, 19W, and 17W TDPs were all available. With Kaveri, AMD is mostly consolidating their lineup into two classes: SV 35W TDP parts, and ULV 19W TDP parts. AMD did mention at one point that the 19W parts can be configured to target different TDPs, however, allowing the laptop OEM to target anywhere from 15W to 25W if desired. There's also at least one 17W TDP part, which we'll get to in a moment.

One other item that AMD emphasized was their new idea of "Compute Cores", which is a way for them to compare performance potential of CPU and GPU cores. GPUs typically have hundreds of cores that are good for very specific tasks whereas CPUs have a few cores that are general purpose, but the GPU functionality is becoming increasingly complex so AMD wanted a way to compare them. For the purposes of Kaveri (and GCN graphics cards), AMD has defined a Compute Core as being "any core capable of running at least one process in its own context and virtual memory space, independently from other cores." What that means is each GCN Compute Unit counts as a Compute Core, and each CPU thread (two per Steamroller module) counts as a Compute Core.

AMD 35W Standard Voltage Mobile APUs
 
Trinity
Richland
Kaveri
Model A10-4600M A8-5557M A10-5757M A8-7200P A10-7400P FX-7600P
Core Name Trinity Richland Richland Kaveri Kaveri Kaveri
Microarch Piledriver Piledriver Piledriver Steamroller Steamroller Steamroller
Modules/Cores 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
CPU Base Freq 2300 2100 2500 2400 2500 2700
Max Turbo 3200 3100 3500 3300 3400 3600
TDP 35W 35W 35W 35W 35W 35W
L1 Cache 128KB I$
64 KB D$
128KB I$
64 KB D$
128KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
L2 Cache 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB
Graphics HD 7660G HD 8550G HD 8650G R5 R6 R7
GPU Cores 384 256 384 256 384 512
GPU Clock 685 720 720 626 654 686
Max DDR3 1600 1600 1600 1866 1866 2133

Starting at the top with the 35W APUs, these will be the highest performance mobile parts. At launch there will be three 35W APUs: the "entry" A8-7200P, "mainstream" A10-7400P, and "enthusiast" FX-7600P. All three APUs use the P suffix to indicate that they’re 35W parts. And right away, we see some interesting changes from the Trinity/Richland lineup.

First, you're sure to notice the use of the FX branding. Make no mistake: this is the same APU as the other Kaveri parts and it has no relation to the desktop FX processors; AMD marketing simply feels the FX brand has a good reputation among enthusiasts and consumers and they wanted to carry that over into the mobile world. Of course this also solves the question of what to call the new highest-end APU; Llano had A4/A6/A8 while Trinity used A6/A8/A10; Kaveri will use A6/A8/A10/FX (so no A12 for now; sorry).

Looking at the core clocks, the base clocks haven't changed too much (2.4-2.7GHz with Kaveri compared to 2.1-2.5GHz on Richland), but Turbo Core clocks have gone up quite a bit. AMD noted that a lot of work went into tuning the mobile Kaveri APUs for power, with one of only four Corporate Fellows at AMD being in charge of that area. The result is that Kaveri should run closer to its Turbo clock in many situations, and the maximum clock speeds have increased from 3.0-3.5GHz on Trinity/Richland to 3.3-3.6GHz on Kaveri. That might not seem like a big deal at first, but keep in mind a couple of points. First, at the same clock speed the Steamroller cores in Kaveri should be about 15-20% faster than the Piledriver cores in Trinity/Richland, thanks to architectural improvements. Second, on the desktop Richland actually topped out at 4.1/4.4GHz while Kaveri only reaches 3.7/4.0GHz, so while Kaveri still enjoys architectural improvements it had to be clocked slower; we don’t see that with the mobile parts.

AMD's Joe Macri (Corp VP and Product CTO Global Business Unit) discussed some of the design decisions that went into Kaveri, noting that choosing the right type of transistor for an APU is different than building a pure CPU. At a high level, there are “V” shaped transistors frequently used with CPUs that can run at higher clock speeds, and “T” shaped transistors that tend to work better in the highly parallel design of GPU cores. From what I could gather, AMD used "V" transistors in Trinity/Richland but has switched to "T" transistors for Kaveri, which explains the drop in maximum clock speed. Joe also noted that 47% of the Kaveri core is dedicated to GPU, again highlighting the importance of the transistor choice.

Moving over to the GPU side of things, each of the 35W APUs comes with a different GPU configuration, using 256, 384, or 512 stream processors for the A8/A10/FX parts, respectively. GPU clock speeds top out at 686MHz with Kaveri compared to 720MHz with Richland, so this is another small step back but GCN’s architectural efficiency and increase in SPUs in the FX-7600P should more than compensate. That said, feeding these increasingly powerful GPUs becomes an increasingly difficult task, which is why maximum memory clock speeds are up to 1866MHz for the A8 and A10, and meanwhile the FX processor goes one further to 2133MHz. Given just how hard it is to feed a fully enabled APU like the FX-7600P – a problem we’ve already seen on the similarly configured desktop SKUs – the memory bandwidth increase is a welcome sight.

AMD 17W Ultra-Low Voltage Mobile APUs
 
Trinity
Richland
Kaveri
Model A4-4455M A4-4145M A6-5345M A6-7000
Core Name Trinity Richland Richland Kaveri
Microarch Piledriver Piledriver Piledriver Steamroller
Modules/Cores 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2
CPU Base Freq 2100 2000 2200 2200
Max Turbo 2600 2600 2800 3000
TDP 17W 17W 17W 17W
L1 Cache 128KB I$
64 KB D$
128KB I$
64 KB D$
128 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
L2 Cache 2MB 1MB 1MB 1MB
Graphics HD 7500G HD 8130G HD 8410G R4
GPU Cores 256 128 192 192
GPU Clock 424 554 600 553
Max DDR3 1333 1333 1333 1600
AMD 19W Ultra-Low Voltage Mobile APUs
 
Trinity
Richland
Kaveri
Model A8-4555M A8-5545M A8-7100 A10-7300 FX-7500
Core Name Trinity Richland Kaveri Kaveri Kaveri
Microarch Piledriver Piledriver Steamroller Steamroller Steamroller
Modules/Cores 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
CPU Base Freq 1600 1700 1800 1900 2100
Max Turbo 2400 2700 3000 3200 3300
TDP 19W 19W 19W 19W 19W
L1 Cache 128KB I$
64 KB D$
128KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
L2 Cache 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB
Graphics HD 7600G HD 8510G R5 R6 R7
GPU Cores 384 384 256 384 384
GPU Clock 424 554 514 533 553
Max DDR3 1333 1333 1600 1600 1600

Moving on to the 17W/19W parts, there's apparently a single 17W APU, the A6-7000, along with three 19W APUs. (AMD didn't provide details on the A6-7000 at the briefing, but we've since confirmed the above specifications, and there's also a Pro equivalent -- see below.) Richland had two 17W parts and one 19W part, so AMD has sort of flipped roles here. As expected the 17W A6-7000 is a rather lean chip; it has one Steamroller module and 192 GCN steaming processors (for a total of five Compute Cores, if you're counting), with a base/turbo CPU clock speed of 2.2GHz/3.0GHz while the GPU turbo clock stands at 553MHz. Compared to the previous generation Richland processors, the A6-7000 gains all of Kaveri’s architectural improvements along with an additional 200MHz for the maximum CPU turbo clock. GPU clock speeds on the other hand take a hit, but this is offset by GCN’s greater performance and a badly needed increase in the maximum DDR3 memory clock speed. In fact with mobile Kaveri, DDR3-1600 is now the baseline, with all processors supporting 1600 or better.

Meanwhile the 19W parts all have two Steamroller modules, and maximum base/turbo clock speeds only differ by 300MHz; most of the differentiation comes in the GPU department. The A8-7100 includes four GCN CUs, the A10-7300 has six CUs with slightly higher GPU clocks, and the FX-7500 also has six CUs with another moderate bump in clock speed. AMD has also brought along the "R-series" branding for the GPUs, so the A6-7000 gets an R4 GPU, the A8 is an R5, A10 gets an R6, and the FX has an R7 GPU. Maximum GPU clocks are again down in some cases compared with Richland, though architectural difference should more than cover any loss in clock speed.

AMD 17/19W Commercial Pro Series ULV APUs
Model A6 Pro-7050B A8 Pro-7150B A10 Pro-7350B
Core Name Kaveri Kaveri Kaveri
Microarch Steamroller Steamroller Steamroller
Modules/Cores 1/2 2/4 2/4
CPU Base Freq 2200 1900 2100
Max Turbo 3000 3200 3300
TDP 17W 19W 19W
L1 Cache 192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
192 KB I$
64 KB D$
L2 Cache 1MB 2x2MB 2x2MB
Graphics R4 R5 R6
GPU Cores 192 384 384
GPU Clock 533 533 553
Max DDR3 1600 1600 1600

There's one final category of APUs, which appear to be AMD's equivalent of Intel's SIPP (Stable Image Platform Program) CPUs: the AMD Pro Series. There are three Pro APUs, the A10 Pro-7350B, A8 Pro-7150B, and A6 Pro-7050B. These APUs are functionally equivalent to the FX-7500, A10-7300, and A6-7000 respectively. The Pro series targets business customers with a message of commercial stability and management. AMD guarantees that these APUs will remain available for an extended period of time, so enterprise customers won't need to worry about validating new hardware for a couple years.

Besides offering different levels of performance, AMD is also differentiating their Kaveri APUs based on other features. Eyefinity and TrueAudio support will be limited to the A10 and FX APUs; the A6/A8 APUs lose this functionality. Similarly, the A6 does not have Dual Graphics functionality; I didn't have much luck with Dual Graphics on Richland/Trinity laptops, but with the iGPU and dGPU both being GCN architectures now there's at least more potential to extract additional performance through CrossFire. Finally, note that the A6 APUs get ARM TrustZone functionality, whereas the higher-end A8, A10, and FX APUs do not.

All of the above was discussed previously (and then pulled), but we have something new to add with today's launch: a performance preview.

Introducing AMD's Mobile Kaveri APUs AMD Kaveri FX-7600P System/CPU Performance Preview
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  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    "The comparison is for CPUs in the same price range, not CPUs in the same TDP range, obviously."

    For a mobile platform? I couldn't disagree more. Power consumption directly affects battery life, and you either need to spend more on the battery (negating cost savings) or just live with less runtime.
    Reply
  • The_Countess - Sunday, June 15, 2014 - link

    you can buy a LOT of extra battery capacity for the premium intel charges for its ULV CPU's. (a whole laptop battery replacement can be had for as little as 50 euro's.)

    furthermore most of the time, and most of the power, will be spent on idle, which is completely separate from the TDP. and again TDP is not power draw. the 2 don't even have to be related. a TDP is quit often set for a whole RANGE of CPU's so OEM's can make 1 laptop designed to one TDP and put a whole host of CPU's in it.

    so without some actual power draw tests doing various tasks this speculation is useless.
    Reply
  • Galatian - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    It's even a bigger joke when they test Intel chips with the worst possible iGPU (HD4400). If you have to use 15W chips vs. a 35W chip in comparison at least take the best of the bunch aka one with a HD5000. Apple offers the MacBook Air for an incredible cheap price, while having a high builds quality. Though for AMD to get into designs like that. When you have a processor that cuts corners, than your entire product has to cut corners IMHO. I mean I can pay 600€ for a cut corner AMD notebook or I can spend 300€ and be a happy camper.

    Also dedicating so much text about why SSD are important doesn't really bode well for the product reviewed here...
    Reply
  • hamoboy - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Well, Tom's Hardware takes a 35W Intel chip to compare their Kaveri test system to, and the Kaveri still absolutely smokes the Intel competitor in gaming. What Jarred is getting at in his reviews I think, is that it's no use for AMD to put out 19/17W chips if OEMs aren't going to bother making anything worth a damn with them inside.

    The comment about OEM's hamstringing AMD laptops is quite true, so many AMD laptops come out with single channel RAM and slow mechanical HDDs, but people attribute the low performance to the APU being slow, when for most purposes, any new mainstream chips coming from Intel or AMD are more than enough.
    Reply
  • Galatian - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    It doesn't "absolutely smoke" the Intel competition:

    1.) DOTA2 is actually faster on the Intel chip
    2.) Frametime variance is better on the Intel chip through out (although admittedly probably moot point, since abysmal FPS anyway)
    3.) It's a HD4600, so still not the better Intel iGPUs
    Reply
  • Fergy - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    If you take an Intel cpu with HD5000 (that is the one with the expensive L4 cache right?) doesn't that make it really really expensive so totally outside the market where AMD is putting these chips?
    System1: kaveri $500
    System2: intel HD5000 $700
    Consumers compare on price not on performance.
    Reply
  • Galatian - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    No. The HD5000 is actually what's Inside the MacBook Air for example, so a 15W ULV part. For 35W you have the Iris 5100 (which is still without the "expensive" eDRAM). Only some of the 45W chips have the Iris Pro 5200.

    I only have Apple as a reference but their notebooks are of high quality, don't cut corners and are actually affordable. The MacBook Air starting at 899€ and the 13" rMBP at 1299€. I would argue that an AMD equipped notebook which doesn't cut corners is not going to be much cheaper. In the end the price difference will be a question of weather you want the more powerful Intel chip or not.

    Also I think AMDs claim of OpenCL performance I blown out of proportion. Their advertisement slides when Kaveri lunch actually had faked stats for Intels iGPU OpenCL performance. I did my own tests and received muh higher numbers. You can also check the PCMark and 3DMark websites to see that Intel was and is much better then what AMD wants you to believe. That is not to say that they are not better, I just think it needs to be put into better perspective if you really want to make the trade off (Better GPU for OpenCL but worse CPU)
    Reply
  • nico_mach - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Your price comparison is off, though. Apple gets the highest end GPU chips from Intel, and then charges LESS than competitors. That Sony i5 was MORE expensive than the MBA or even the Mac Pro. Apple doesn't make cheap hardware, but they haven't had overpriced hardware in years (or no more than competitors).

    But I agree in principle, it just isn't going to happen for AMD. The HP sleekbook was easily the best looking 'ultrabook' and it was only briefly available (not that it was good, but lots of poor laptops do better). AMD is used by the OEMs only to keep Intel honest - and that's why they launched on desktop first. Intel doesn't really care about desktop, so AMD wisely chose that first, where they can get some enthusiasts as well as a few modest OEM wins.

    I have an AMD chip and it was a good budget choice for a basic PC. But the OEMs are closer to adopting ARM en masse (HP has joined Samsung with ARM chromebooks now) than AMD. I'd like to think HSA might turn it around, but I think at this point Intel's guns are bigger than AMD's and they have more of them. Perhaps Lenovo will keep going vertical and scoop them up to move to China. They already have red logos, after all.
    Reply
  • hamoboy - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    1) That Dota2 result is so wide it seems like a result of driver non-optimization, than the Intel GPU actually being better.
    2) Like you said, it's a moot point.
    3) The best Intel GPUs are found in chips that are way way out of AMD's price range. A true apples to apples comparison is between affordable midrange chips to affordable midrange chips, and that's what Tom's Hardware did.
    Reply
  • Galatian - Thursday, June 5, 2014 - link

    I agree on your first two points but beg to differ on the later. Not everybody is shopping with a set amount of money, most usually look what will 100€ more or less get me or what can I get in a given thermal envelope. I would argue for example that the HD5000 will turn out faster in the 19/15 W TDP envelope next to AMDs chips.

    Also I think most people are forgetting that AMD won't be competing with Haswell but with Broadwell which is close to be released.

    Now this is not to say it's a bad chip, I just don't get the hype that's being made. I think the trade off worse CPU for better GPU is not worth it for most customers. HUMA and HSA still has to show how powerful it could be (and I have my doubts if it will ever get widespread attention) and people easily forget that Intel also supports OpenCL, so every software optimized for it will also run faster on Intel hardware.
    In the end AMD chips - in my eyes - still remain the budget choice (if at all) and this is why you probably won't see many non cut corners notebooks.
    Reply

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