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The Discovery Platform

Mullins And Beema APUs: AMD Gets Serious About Tablet SoCs

While AMD doesn't provide a true reference platform for its new APUs, the company did have its engineers put together a functional test bed for demonstration purposes. Dubbed the Discovery project, we got to try out the platform at AMD's campus in Austin, Texas.

Equipped with the 4.5 W A10 Micro-6700T flagship, based on the Mullins APU, AMD's Discovery tablet is equipped with 2 GB of DDR3L-1333 inside a generic 10" display form factor. AMD showed off stylized peripherals alongside the device, such as a game controller attachment and dock, and demonstrated the platform wirelessly broadcasting video to a television.

Although it's interesting, Discovery isn't a shipping product. So, the tablet's most important job is simply showing that Mullins operates in a handheld chassis without thermal issues.

Discovery also gave us a sneak peek at the platform's performance capabilities. Naturally, we prefer to put retail hardware through its paces in our lab. However, AMD only has a handful of these things, and there aren't enough to send out to reviewers.

As a result, we were limited to a few hours of testing on-site at AMD. To the company's credit, we were given completely unrestricted access to the hardware and were allowed to install anything we wanted. Still, though, this is a one-off device benchmarked at AMD. There's no way for us to guarantee its clock rates or the amount of time it was able to sustain them represents anything you'll see in the future.

Typically it takes us days of testing to come up with truly useful data. But form factors are so important to tablet benchmarking that going deep into a demo platform would yield limited information anyway. I'd much rather put a commercially available product through the wringer, and that's what I'll do as soon as it's possible. Until then, the few numbers gleaned from AMD's Discovery will hopefully shed some light on the potential of AMD's newest APUs.

Even though I didn't have much time to test, I prepared a couple of interesting comparisons. For instance, I benchmarked Dell's Venue 8 Pro tablet equipped with an Atom Z3740D, giving us representation from Intel's low-power Bay Trail line-up. To better plot where Mullins falls on the spectrum, I also have the Celeron J1900 (Bay Trail-D) and Athlon 5350 (Kabini) in my charts. Those two processors are rated at higher 10 and 25 W TDPs, respectively.

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