Chip manufacturer AMD today presented information about its next-generation APU, codenamed Kaveri, at CES 2014.
The majority of the presentation re-iterates what was already announced at the AMD Developer Conference in November of last year:
- Kaveri will be available at retail on January 14th
- It is the first APU with heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) features
- The first with AMD's new Steamroller CPU cores
- The first to leverage the company's GCN graphics architecture instead of the VLIW design utilized previously
On the graphics side, GCN matches the functionality of what's already available from the company's newest discrete GPUs, with features such as TrueAudio, PCIe Gen 3, and Mantle API support. As for the new Steamroller CPU core design, the company claims up to a 20% IPC performance increase over the previous generation A10-6800K, based on Piledriver.
Up to 12 "Compute Cores"
The company's claim of "up to 12 compute cores" in its APU line is a little confusing, as it refers to four CPU cores and eight GCN compute units linked via HSA. This is a noteworthy shift from the nomenclature AMD used at their least developer conference, where CPU and GPU resources were both referred to as "compute units". This is definitely a strategic way to suggest that the integrated graphics hardware will help out in day-to-day processing tasks like a traditional CPU core, but it remains to be seen just how realistic this will turn out to be. We understand that developers will have to invest effort into optimizing applications for HSA, and there's no guarantee that the technology will gain the widespread support of software publishers.
Nevertheless, AMD published some benchmarks for us to consider showing how the new A10-7850K leverages its GCN compute cores to perform better in PCMark, 3DMark, Basemark CL, and Libre Office.
A10-7850K: Respectable Gaming Performance?
The first two APU models that the company has officially announced are the A10-7850K and A10-7700K. The press deck mentions that the 856 theoretical GFLOPS performance citation is based on the A10-7850K with four CPU cores (two Steamroller modules) at 3.7 GHz (CPU-world lists this part as having a 4.0 GHz turbo clock), plus a graphics processor comprised of eight GCN Compute Units at 720 MHz. Each of those compute units contains 64 shader cores for a total of 512, making the flagship Kaveri home to GPU silicon that is functionally very close to a Radeon HD 7750. This is a desktop graphics card capable of some very respectable gaming performance.
As for the A10-7700K, the deck doesn't mention specifics but CPU-world suggests it also has a four-core CPU side, albeit with lower 3.5/3.8 GHz core/turbo clocks. It also claims that the graphics processor is cut down to six GCN compute units for a total of 384 shader cores at 720 MHz, comparable to the recently released Radeon R7 250. While not as impressive as the A10-7850K, the A10-7700K looks like a respectable part in its own right and, based on specifications alone, is probably faster than the Trinity-based A10-6800K.