Mobilizing Kaveri: The Product Stack
The first, most obvious change from AMD's mobile Richland design is DDR3-2133 support. That's technically not a new feature for Kaveri, which already accommodates fast data rates on the desktop. But it's certainly something we haven't seen before in the mobile space. Unfortunately, there's only one 35 W mobile APU with DDR3-2133 support; the rest cap out at 1866 MT/s. And the 17 to 19 W versions are validated for up to DDR3-1600.
Of course, the mobile version of Kaveri demonstrates different thermal behavior compared to the desktop implementation. AMD is actually leveraging the same kind of optimizations it exposed in the low-power Mullins and Beema APUs (Mullins And Beema APUs: AMD Gets Serious About Tablet SoCs). Many aspects of the SoC's utilization are monitored on a constant basis, and the goal is to provide quick, high boosts in frequency that dynamically respond to user input. Once a snappy response is achieved, the clocks quickly drop to lower levels, cutting power consumption and preserving thermal headroom.
AMD is trying to give the impression of fast, responsive performance, and our sample does seem to achieve that. Of course, this model falls apart when sustained, intense workloads are applied to the hardware. But all chip makers share the same challenge when it comes to high performance in small form factors.
New Brands: Mobile FX, and The AMD Pro Series APUs
Applying the FX brand to mobile APUs will no doubt raise eyebrows amongst enthusiasts. That moniker was already feeling watered-down after the Bulldozer generation let us down. In truth, this is simply a new top-tier sub-class for AMD's notebook-oriented hardware. Previously, A10 was used to suggest top-of-the-line. Now FX does that job, implying the highest available clock rates, functional units, and performance. Again, the FX-7600P distinguishes itself as the only APU with DDR3-2133 support, while the 19 W FX-7500 is limited to DDR3-1600.
In addition to the FX brand, AMD adds a new line of products to address the low-voltage commercial and business space. It dubs these the AMD Pro-series APUs, most of which appear to be re-badged versions of the ULV 19 W consumer models. The exception is the only dual-core Kaveri mobile model, the AMD A6 PRO-7050B. Of course, the Pro marketing message focuses on attributes that IT departments like to talk about: performance, longevity, and stability. It's a bummer that the Pro line-up doesn't include FirePro driver certifications, though AMD representatives concede this could become possible if the market (or certain customers) demand it. Why did AMD choose to bring a commercial version of its APU to market? AMD's Bernard Fernandes told us that it's a response to requests spurned by the increase in visually-oriented workloads. "We have made commitments to the image stability, product life cycle, and performance required in commercial environments with the AMD Pro A-Series APUs."
Here's what the initial stack of Kaveri-based mobile APUs looks like:
|CPU Cores||Base/Max CPU Freq (GHz)||Shader Cores||Max GPU Freq (MHz)||L2 Cache||Max DDR3 Speed||PCIe Lanes||TDP (W)|
|AMD A-Series SV APUs|
|FX-7600P||4||2.7/3.6||512||686||4 MB||DDR3-2133||1x16 Gen3||35|
|A10-7400P||4||2.5/3.4||384||654||4 MB||DDR3-1866||1x16 Gen3||35|
|A8-7200P||4||2.4/3.3||256||626||4 MB||DDR3-1866||1x16 Gen3||35|
|AMD A-Series ULV APUs|
|FX-7500||4||2.1/3.3||384||553||4 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||19|
|A10-7300||4||1.9/3.2||384||533||4 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||19|
|A8-7100||4||1.8/3.0||256||514||4 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||19|
|AMD A-Series Commercial ULV APUs|
|A10 PRO-7350B||4||2.1/3.3||384||553||4 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||19|
|A8 PRO-7150B||4||1.9/3.2||384||533||4 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||19|
|A6 PRO-7050B||2||2.2/3.0||192||533||1 MB||DDR3-1600||1x8 Gen2||17|
That top-of-the-line FX-7600P is a completely functional Kaveri APU, with both of its Steamroller modules (four integer cores) and all 512 of its shaders enabled.