AMD Athlon 5350 And AM1 Platform Review: Kabini In A Socket

AMD is repackaging the mobile-focused Kabini APU for use on the desktop, and tucking them under the familiar Athlon and Sempron brands. We take a closer look at the company's socketed AM1 platform and compare its performance to Intel's Bay Trail-D.

AMD started banging the Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) drum shortly after purchasing ATI. But it wasn't until the company introduced its Jaguar architecture that we saw uptake really garner the big headlines. In rapid succession, AMD found its hybrid technology in the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and E- and A-series Mobility APUs (code-named Kabini and Temash) for mobile devices running Windows.

If you're not familiar with the Jaguar design, it's an evolution of AMD's Bobcat architecture, which we first looked at back in 2010. The goal this time around was to improve Bobcat's modest performance by augmenting the amount of work it could do per clock cycle. AMD also gave Jaguar support for more modern instruction set extensions like SSE 4.1/4.2 and AVX. Of course, in the process, APUs equipped with Jaguar get an updated on-board graphics engine. Gone is the VLIW-based design prevalent in Radeon HD 6000-and-newer GPUs, replaced by Graphics Core Next.

The Kabini-based APUs leverage up to four Jaguar cores and as many as 128 GCN-based shaders. If you want more technical depth on that processor, have a look at AMD's Kabini: Jaguar And GCN Come Together In A 15 W APU.

Almost a year has passed since our first look at Kabini. Originally, AMD positioned the APU as mobile-focused, ideal for low-power devices wielding the flexibility of x86. More recently, the company revealed its intention to sell the chip into a desktop platform called AM1 as well, built around its FS1b processor interface.

Of course, AMD's marketing machine is aflutter, calling AM1 the world's first "system in a socket," since Intel's Bay Trail-D design isn't upgradeable. It's an embedded configuration with a soldered-down SoC. Indeed, most of the Bay Trail-equipped boards we've seen so far appear best suited to industrial applications. In contrast, AM1 motherboards seem more desktop-like, supporting up to 16 GB of DDR3 memory and accommodating active cooling.


Athlon 5350
Athlon 5150
Sempron 3850
Sempron 2650
CPU Cores
4
4
4
2
Clock Rate
2.05 GHz
1.6 GHz
1.3 GHz1.45 GHz
GPU Frequency
600 MHz
600 MHz450 MHz400 MHz
Memory Data Rate
1600 MT/s
1600 MT/s
1600 MT/s
1333 MT/s
Total Cache
2 MB
2 MB
2 MB1 MB
TDP
25 W
25 W25 W25 W
MSRP
$59
$49
$39
$34

AMD is shipping AM1-capable APUs under the company's Athlon and Sempron brands. Currently, all of the available models are rated for 25 W and feature 128 shaders, although the graphics engine ranges from 400 to 600 MHz, depending on the specific implementation. Three of the four chips come with four cores and 1600 MT/s memory support, while the lowest-priced Sempron 2650 is a dual-core version with a 1333 MT/s transfer rate cap. Core frequencies range from 1.3 to 2.05 GHz, which does serve to hold back performance. Then again, Intel is shipping similar to slightly higher clock rates on its Silvermont-based CPUs (Intel Silvermont Architecture: Does This Atom Change It All?).


Pentium J2900Celeron J1900
Celeron J1800
CPU Cores
4
4
2
Base/Turbo Boost Clock Rate
2.41/2.67 GHz
2/2.42 GHz
2.41/2.58 GHz
Dynamic GPU Clock Range
688/896 MHz
688/854 MHz688/792 MHz
Memory Data Rate
1333 MT/s
1333 MT/s1333 MT/s
Total Cache
2 MB
2 MB
1 MB
TDP
10 W
10 W
10 W

At least in this segment, AMD and Intel are topping out with four cores (the Jaguar architecture can continue scaling, as it does in the Xbox and PlayStation, while Silvermont does as well in the Atom C2000 family). Intel's solution uses less power. However, the company's HD Graphics engine is also less capable. And memory support is limited to 1333 MT/s across the Bay Trail-D platform.

We'd expect AMD's socketed Kabini platform to be faster than the competition from Intel, based on all of those specifications, though Bay Trail-D may be more efficient. Let's take a closer look at the hardware for more detail.

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132 comments
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  • srap
    Are the CPU/APU names on Page 4's third image correct?
  • kartu
    Why is there no pricing on Intel CPUs on page 1?
  • AMD Radeon
    i hope mini office pc box can be a new trend
    AM1 can be a potential winner in this market
  • Niko_boy
    Ultra low detail lol made me confused for once
  • Maxx_Power
    To Toms:

    What was the ambient temperature during the testing ? Surely Toms is not testing in an refrigerator ? That idle GPU and CPU temperature at 13 degrees Celsius seems about 10 degrees too low, given that they have to be necessarily above ambient conditions to make physical sense. Perhaps the sensors are not read correctly (wrong offset) ?

    For the Dota2 graphs, there seems to be a mistake for the color legend. The difference in color isn't resolution, since the resolution is fixed (right hand top corner of graph at 1080), so my guess is that red/black represents min/avg FPS similar to the 2nd graph on Grid2.
  • bustapr
    lol my bad, misread and graphs are fine.
  • nezzymighty
    Thanks for the article. I agree with your conclusion, as I would probably seek an alternative build for a a "PC-Like Device" as you put it. Seeing AM1 product costs relatively the same to an A4-4000 FM2+ confuses me, as I had originally expected (hoped) AM1 high-end combinations with a motherboard to cost around the $70 mark... If I were to make an AMD HTPC, or a typical AMD business computer, based on prices released by the e-tailers today, it would make more sense for me to build an FM2+ with A4-4000. Maybe prices will reduce in time to make this a more attractive alternative relative to an FM2+ for an HTPC or business computer.
  • ykki
    "Based on our results, I'd guess that AMD's AM1 platform should be able to handle less-demanding MMOs like World of Warcraft, lightweight shooters like Left 4 Dead, and a wide range of even more casual games (such as Angry Birds)."
    I think that it is safe to say that it can max out angry birds at 4k :)
  • ykki
    I think it would be nice to see NAS PCs rocking the AM1 platform
  • cleeve
    797416 said:
    To Toms: What was the ambient temperature during the testing ? Surely Toms is not testing in an refrigerator ? That idle GPU and CPU temperature at 13 degrees Celsius seems about 10 degrees too low, given that they have to be necessarily above ambient conditions to make physical sense. Perhaps the sensors are not read correctly (wrong offset) ?


    On-die sensors are notoriously inaccurate at low temperatures. In this case that's obvious, but we can only report what the sensors tell us.

    797416 said:
    For the Dota2 graphs, there seems to be a mistake for the color legend. The difference in color isn't resolution, since the resolution is fixed (right hand top corner of graph at 1080), so my guess is that red/black represents min/avg FPS similar to the 2nd graph on Grid2.


    Good catch! Fixed. :)
  • cleeve
    692707 said:
    Are the CPU/APU names on Page 4's third image correct?


    Thanks! Fixed. :)
  • cleeve
    222405 said:
    Why is there no pricing on Intel CPUs on page 1?


    Two reasons: they're not for sale yet and we don't have reliable pricing, plus the fact that they're bundled with motherboards, so we didn't want the pre-release pricing to be confusing next to the AM1 processors.
  • m32
    Overpriced is this products' shadow. I can build an FM2(+) build for about the same money. Yes, it may use 20 watts more, but I get more CPU & GPU power from it. I really wanted the MB-CPU combo to be around $70 but that is almost the price of the APU.
  • Wisecracker
    Where are the POV-Ray and Cinebench benchies ??
  • CaptainTom
    Tomshardware! PLEASE test this platform with discrete graphics cards. I mean come on if the 5350 doesn't hold a 250X back it could be one hell of a budget builder's dream platform!
  • logainofhades
    Your assumption that this would handle WoW is flat out wrong. My sandy bridge i5 equipped laptop with a GT 540m struggles in 40 man world boss situations. This thing would be a slideshow.
  • Wisecracker
    Quote:
    PLEASE test this platform with discrete graphics cards. I mean come on if the 5350 doesn't hold a 250X back it could be one hell of a budget builder's dream platform!


    That's essentially a 45/65w A8-7600 Kaveri APU (likely around $120)
  • zooted
    I am interested in seeing this tested with discreet graphics as well.
  • de5_Roy
    i always had a suspicion that jaguar cores might have more ipc than silvermont cores. the igpu kinds seals the deal for kabini. baytrail-d has lower power use but it's also overall slower and the boards seem to have less number of i/o ports.
  • iceman26
    i'm planning to build a download only machine, will this be a viable solution? or should i go with a netbook?
  • EdgeT
    They look like great little platforms. But a whole lot of people go the AMD route for homeservers (myself included). And just like me, a lot of people think that 4 SATA ports are just not enough. If it had like 8, like a lot of AMD motherboards I've looked at, I'd buy it in a heartbeat, and I bet a lot of people would.

    It's just convenience and cost efficiency, really, on the one hand, you've got 1 motherboard, CPU, tower, PSU, OS and IP adress for remote control and 8 HDDs and on the other, you've still got 8 HDDS, but 2 of everything else. Power consumption wouldn't make THAT much of a difference, since storage servers mostly idle, but the noise and size do take their toll.
  • greghome
    Why didnt the just release them as BGA like the Bobcats?
  • iceman26
    nowadays when i'm thinking about building an HTPC i'm looking forward to use it with Madvr but seeing how madvr punishes my hd7850, i guess the two doesn't want to be together (HTPC+madvr). but i think this am1 system is for super light weight use. (e.g. downloading stuff, server) but when it comes to this kind of thing the first thing i'm concerned of was power usage .
  • EricJohn2004
    I was curious to read this because I own a PS4. And my PS4 has 8 Jaguar cores the EXACT same as these Kabini cores. So basically, if you multiply the benchmark scores by 2x, you'll get the score my PS4 would have, round about. Except for single core benchmarks, but even in that case it looks like AMD's Jaguar does pretty good with single threaded stuff. But it's not like the PS4 will have anything single threaded most likely everything will be using a ton of threads.

    I also read on another website that the 5350 scores around a 1.6 in Cinebench 11.5. So it's like .4 per core, which is about half as much as an 8350 core or 4300 core. Meaning my PS4 would score a 3.2 in Cinebench 11.5. Being that that's what an FX4300 scores, i'd say a PS4's CPU is really no slouch, especially while multithreading. Sure, if you compare it to an i7, an i7 will double it's scores and more, but being that it matches an FX4300 and A10 7850k's, I'd say that's impressive.

    Of course it's only half as fast as FX4300 in single threaded tasks, but that's good enough.

    Any of you impressed?