AMD A10-7850K (Kaveri)

Conclusion

On the CPU front, Kaveri did not make a giant leap that we have hoped. It is a bit of a mixed bag where the reduction in the clock speed hurts its performance in apps such as Cinebench that demands on higher clockspeed. On the other hand, for the software that is optimized for, we see about 10% improvements in the performance. The single-thread performance seems to have suffered the most on Kaveri and this is an area where AMD definitely needs improvement. Multi-thread performance in general is on par with Richland/Trinity and often exceeds its predecessor. While we do not expect Kavreri to actually out-perform Intel, we at least hope it would be able to improve a little more especially the single thread performance as that has always been a sore spot on the AMD APU.

The graphic portion of the Kaveri is an evolutionary upgrade and the move to the GNC is a much welcomed. There is about 10~20% improvements on the graphic performance. The switch to the GCN along with the array of features such as TrueAudio, Mantle, and discreet JPEG accelerator that AMD has bundled into the new APU puts the GPU on the APU at the same level as the current generation discreet Radeon graphics. While some of these features still need software support, it is nonetheless good to see the APU to have the same hardware as AMD’s own discreet GPU where it should help with gaining greater support from the developers.

Obviously, AMD’s goal with Kaveri is deliver a higher performance per watt ratio. And if we take the power consumption into account, then Kaveri is clear the winner here. The A10-7850K that we have here only is rated to be 5 watts lower in the A10-6800K. In our test, we noticed the APU to consume much lower power than the Richland and Trinity. So clearly, Kaveri is a much more efficient chip. And we are glad to see AMD is putting a greater emphasis on reducing its power consumption.

Consider the fact that the A10-7850K is retailed at $170, it maybe a tad too expensive to compete against Intel’s offering at similar price range. It is sandwiched between the fastest Core i3 and the entry Core i5. Intel’s offering at this price has lower TDP and performs better on the CPU front. Obviously, Kaveri’s GPU is faster but if you are gamer, you would be better off just pair an Intel CPU with a discreet graphic card. This makes Kaveri (A10-7850K) hard to recommend for anyone who plans to use a discreet GPU.

However, there is a market that Kaveri would be perfect for, which is systems that relies solely on the integrated GPU where a discreet GPU is out of the equation. The reduction in the power consumption on the A10-7850K and the support for the configurable TDP actually makes it a very competitive product for systems where discrete graphic is not necessary or non desired. We think with its balanced CPU and GPU performance and low power consumption, Kaveri would be perfect for all-in-one PC and small form factor systems such as media servers and HTPCs. Mobile Kaveri would also be very interesting product as well if it can deliver similar performance at low power consumption.

If we look at what AMD has done with the whole Fusion platform/APU. We can see that the CPU front essentially stayed the same; while  each generation, there is some improvement, it also takes a bit of regression in some area. AMD continues to improve on the GPU in order to make the CPU and GPU more of an equal partner and at the same time reduce the power consumption of the system. However, this is done at the expense of the CPU performance as it has essentially reached a plateau. We cannot help but think that Kaveri should have been the first APU from AMD back in 2011 as the successor to the K10 CPUs. Obviously, it was not possible for AMD to deliver Kaveri back then, or we would have seen it. However, if AMD were able to deliver then, we may have a much different landscape today where there would be more software that can take advantage of the heterogeneous computing and utilizing HSA.

Still, Kaveri is still exciting as it is a decade long work from AMD where it is finally ready to demonstrate its vision and promise. There are still lots of work needed to be done and most importantly, AMD needs to get the software developers on-board to create software to finally take advantage of the technologies and features that is on the chip. Mantle, TrueAudio, hUMA, and hQ all require software written to take advantage of their powers. At the moment, the FM2+ platform/Kaveri seems more like a developer’s platform where it is packed with many features waiting for the developers to tap into its power. If AMD is able to attract more developers to finally take advantage of its platform and the new technologies, then we maybe are on the cusp of something greater in the next couple of years as HSA finally takes mainstream.

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One comment

  1. With the new architecture, someone might get more perf gains from overclocking the memory and fsb before going after the multiplier.

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