Mobile Kaveri Improves, But Is It Enough?
Kaveri is finally being introduced to the mobile space, and I believe it has more potential there than on the desktop. Where the previous generation of Richland-based APUs offer greater headroom for higher clock rates, that advantage is largely neutralized when you're more worried about battery life than raw performance.
Of course, AMD's mobile APUs aren't competing against the products they replace; they're doing battle against Intel's best effort, which is manufactured using more advanced technology. In that light, the mobile flavor of Kaveri fights an uphill battle to prove its mettle, particularly when the comparison points are benchmarks of popular applications.
The same arguments crop up over and over. Will you notice a difference between platforms while you're banging out emails, working in Excel, or browsing the Web? Probably not. But that's not a good enough reason to adopt a slower or less energy efficient system. Yes, OpenCL and the HSA initiative have wonderful potential, but it's still potential. Neither effort is yet prolific, and that's what we really want to see.
How about graphics? Score one for AMD there, though in certain host processing-bound applications, Intel's x86 cores alleviate bottlenecks that Kaveri must suffer through. But let's make this clear: in the four games we tested, AMD's FX-7600P established a clear win over the Core i7-4702MQ in three. Intel's HD Graphics 4600 engine was either unplayable or it dipped below the threshold of playability, while AMD proved more likely to deliver tolerable performance numbers. If you're a mobile gamer, that's a notable distinction between low-power processors.
The final piece of the puzzle is price. We won't know the specifics until AMD gets some mobile Kaveri design wins on the shelves. At a similar cost, you'd choose a Core i7-4702MQ or FX-7600P based on your preference for intense computing tasks or graphics ability, respectively. But I'd be a little surprised if those two chips ended up in similarly-priced laptops. If you could save a significant amount of money by choosing the AMD option, the value proposition could be compelling. As always, we'll have to wait until we have commercially available laptops to test in order to do a real value analysis. But no matter how you slice it, the mobile version of Kaveri is a stronger opponent than its predecessor.