AMD's Kabini: Jaguar And GCN Come Together In A 15 W APU

AMD's Kabini-Based Prototype And Our Benchmarks

Prototypes generally don't emphasize industrial design. However, our Kabini-based ultra-thin notebook with an A4-5000 in it is surprisingly svelte.

Although we used a number of different notebooks for our benchmarks, we used the same hard drive and memory in all of them to keep our comparisons as valid as possible. We want to zero in on platform performance after all, and not the difference between a mechanical disk and SSD.

AMD suggests that Kabini's prime adversary will be low-priced Pentium laptops. To that end, we secured a Pentium B960-equipped notebook for testing as the most inexpensive platform we could find with Intel's CPU inside. It sells for $350 on Newegg.

At the other end of the spectrum, Core i3-3217U is another good match-up. This processor sports a similar power envelope and is available in notebooks starting around $400.

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Laptop Comparison Test Settings
PlatformKabini Prototype LaptopAcer Aspire V3HP Pavillion Sleekbook 15
ProcessorA4-5000: 1.5 GHz Base Clock Rate, 2 MB Shared L2 Cache, 15 W (Kabini)Pentium B960: 2.2 GHz Base Clock Rate, 2 MB Shared L3 Cache, 35 W (Sandy Bridge)Core i3-3217U: 1.8 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3 MB Shared L3 Cache, 17 W (Ivy Bridge)
MemoryHynix 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-667 @ CAS 9-9-9-24-1T
GraphicsRadeon HD 8330 128 ALUs, 500 MHz coreIntel HD Graphics, 6 EUs, 350 to 1,100 MHz coreIntel HD 4000 Graphics, 16 EUs, 350 to 1,350 MHz core
Hard DriveToshiba MQ01ABD100H 1 TB, 5,400 RPM
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst13.101_Beta3Intel HD Graphics Driver HD Graphics Driver

And here are the benchmark details:

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Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Metro: Last LightVersion, DirectX 10, Built-in Benchmark
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimVersion, Version, 25-Sec. Fraps
Tomb RaiderVersion 1.04, Built-in Benchmark
F1 2012Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.98, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version:, MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio:MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
7-ZipVersion 9.28, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012
WinRARVersion 4.2, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro, Best Method, ZIPX Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1, Entry, Performance, Extreme Suite
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2012Version: 2012 SP5c-1872, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • zeek the geek
    This is was we expect on the new consoles, I sure as heck can't wait to see what improvements we'll have on games ported over to PC are. I'm tired of these makeshift ports... Glad to see AMD has their hands in the console field, now maybe we'll see a huge influx of cash on their end to help improve their line and drivers that will give Nvidia a good run for so we can see "OUR money" go to good use. To better technology and innovation!
  • slomo4sho
    With Haswell around the corner claiming models with TDP of 15, 13.5, and 10 watts, the lack of performance in this chipset is discouraging to say the least.
  • dragonsqrrl
    This is the best CPU architecture to come out of AMD in a very long time. It has so many things going for it in comparison to the current competition from Atom. Far superior overall performance, improved power consumption and FP performance over its predecessor (weak points of Brazos), much better graphics performance, broader x86 instruction support, and an actual process advantage (28nm vs 32nm). AMD has a huge opportunity here, and I sure hope they capitalize on it quickly because it won't last long. Atom's based on Intel's upcoming Silvermont architecture will likely outperform Jaguar and reverse most of the advantages AMD currently has.
  • BringMeAnother
    Its performing well in all the wrong areas. If I'm going to play games, I'd rather play with at least high settings with decent resolution. I'm perfectly willing to give up mobility for a gaming machine.
  • mcx2500
    Given that the AMD Temash and Kabinis are priced in the range of Atoms, it is illustrative that the Tom's reviewer used two Pentium and i3 CPUs that cost over $130 and $200 respectively.

    To see the Intel chips utilizing dramatically more watts than the Kabini brings up issues discovered by other reviewers. Just look at the graph of the i3-3217u rated at "17 watt TDP" playing F1-2012 at what is 100% or nearly 35 watts! This means that AMD Kabini A6-5200 which is being released in June will outperform Intel's $225+ i3-3217u for price-performance per watt, you can be on it.

    While running the range of applications, the AMD Kabini remained cool while the Intel chips heat up dramatically. This heat has to be dissipated from the laptop and it takes a toll on both the machine and user.

    HP just announced 10 point touchscreen laptops that utilize AMD Jaguar Kabinis for a breakthrough price of $399 and that is just a start of a flood of good old competition (hello AMD Kaveri APU Xmas).
  • dragonsqrrl
    mcx2500To see the Intel chips utilizing dramatically more watts than the Kabini brings up issues discovered by other reviewers. Just look at the graph of the i3-3217u rated at "17 watt TDP" playing F1-2012 at what is 100% or nearly 35 watts!This is because the i3-3217u is not an SOC, it's just an ULV dual core Ivy Bridge. Many of the controllers and other supporting hardware are located off die on the mother board, which increases power consumption over the CPU/GPU's rated 17W TDP.

    Kabini will have to compete with Intel's upcoming ULV Haswell, which will go as low as ~10W TDP and will be an SOC. This is why I said in my previous comment that I feel AMD has a rare advantage right now and a narrow window of opportunity to make an impact. Jaguar will overlap Silvermont on the low end of its TDP range, and Haswell on its upper end. Both will likely outperform it in their given segments.
  • cleeve
    mcx2500Given that the AMD Temash and Kabinis are priced in the range of Atoms, it is illustrative that the Tom's reviewer used two Pentium and i3 CPUs that cost over $130 and $200 respectively.
    AMD told us the Kabini laptop they gave us would be priced $500 on the market, and that cheaper versions would be as low as $350.

    We used the cheapest comparison laptops we could find. The only thing it illustrates is that we were trying to give Kabini the best chance of strutting its stuff.
  • amdfangirl
    AMD Kabini follows the idea of a tablet - people buy them because they are good enough. That's what is causing the downturn in the PC industry. With the performance advantage over ARM chips and Intel Atom, I really see this as a viable alternative in netbooks and Windows tablets.

    AMD Kabini sleekbook. I am just drooling at the idea of that.
  • amdfangirl
    dragonsqrrl Kabini will have to compete with Intel's upcoming ULV Haswell, which will go as low as ~10W TDP and will be an SOC
    No, Kabini competes in the Intel Atom price range like its predecessor, AMD Brazos.

    Sure they compete in a similar TDP range, but you wouldn't expect people to compare the chips that go into $999 ultrabooks with chips that will (ultimately) go into the same form factor as them, but are priced at <$400.

    ULV processors from Intel are priced at a premium - because Intel is unchallenged in that space. AMD would be insane to try and price Kabini anywhere near IVB or Haswell ULV parts, because AMD will never win by overpricing their products.

    "There's no such thing as a bad product, just a bad price point"
    Edit: Not entirely sure why my comment got cut off, but here it is. Please note this comparison was made about the ultraportable area of the market, where the main concerns are weight, screen size and battery life. If we start comparing a CPU designed for primarily 11.6" or 10.1" screens with say 35W CPUs in a 15" form factor, you've lost the whole point of the comparison you're doing ultraportable vs. desktop replacements. Sure, if a manufacturer wants to put Kabini in a 15" form factor then it's fair game, but for the majority of Kabini chips, we'll see them in ultraportables, not desktop replacements.
  • ta152h
    Comparing Kabini with SB/IB is like comparing a four cylinder car with an eight cylinder car. It's plain silly, and kind of obnoxious.

    This was a poor review because of the choice made there. I think a lot people were curious about how improved it was over the Bobcat. No data. How about the Atom? No data. Let's just compare it with chips the Piledriver competes with, instead of those it does. It makes no sense.

    In case you guys haven't figured it out, Piledriver is the competitor for SB/IB, not Kabini. Two different markets. That you justify this so poorly by saying one particular notebook would cost x amount of dollars, is borderline insane. From one notebook, which are based on things other than the cost of the processor as well, you would assume all will cost the same? Strange.

    The comparisons with SB/IB aren't worthless, but they should have been in addition to the processors in their market, and also with AMD's Trinity line. Maybe four or five processors, instead of just two that are addressing a higher performance market, and architecturally quite close.

    You lost this one to other sites. Normally, especially when Chris writes them, Tom's ends up having the best information. Not this time. Not even close.