AMD Takes Kaveri Mobile and FX Returns - FX-7600P
Earlier this year AMD launched their Kaveri APUs for desktops and now they are ready to release Kaveri APUs for mobile platforms. AMD's Kaveri series of APUs feature enhanced Streamroller x86 cores and the latest in graphics cores thanks to the inclusion of Graphics Core Next (GCN) with Mantle and TrueAudio technology support. The transition from desktop to mobile didn't change much as the mobile variants of Kaveri share the same basic features and really just differ in clock speeds and voltages due to their lower mobile power envelopes.
It should be noted that Kaveri is the first notebook processor to offer full HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) support. AMD has been driving HSA for years and this is the first mobile part that has HSA features. This is important as programmers now have the ability to fully exploit the capabilities of parallel execution units. With HSA, applications can create data structures in a single unified address space and can initiate work items on the hardware most appropriate for a given task with minimal dispatch overhead.
The flagship AMD Kaveri APU is called the FX-7600P and it will ship with 12 Compute Cores (4 Steamroller x86 CPU cores and 8 GCN GPU cores). Since it is using GCN GPU cores, it means that AMD's Mantle API and TrueAudio technology are both supported by these mobile APUs.
Oh, and the FX series has been brought back from the dead! Will there be future AMD FX desktop processors?
The new 2014 AMD Performance Mobile APUs are broken down into classes of A-series APUs: Standard Voltage or “SV” designed to run at 35W, Ultra Low Voltage or “ULV” designed to run at 19W, and Commercial ULV designed to run at 17W or 19W. The SV and ULV chips are what you'll see on many of the AMD-based consumer laptops later this year while the Commercial ULV or “AMD PRO” series chips will be used in a variety of business class or workstation notebooks later this year. So, the two most important series for our audience is clearly the AMD A-Series SV and ULV APUs. When looking at just those two groups you'll see that each groups flagship processor is labeled as FX. Yes, AMD is bringing the FX nomenclature back. This means that there are now A6, A8, A10, FX and Pro A-series processors out there. The the top two models are the AMD FX-7600P and AMD FX-7500.
All the Kaveri APUs are quad-core processors with 4MB of L2 cache except for the A6 PRO-7050B which is a dual-core part that has just 1MB of L2 cache available and 3 GPU compute cores. The base clock speeds for the A-series notebook APUs range from 1.8 GHz to 2.7 GHz, but some will be able to reach 3.6 Ghz thanks to AMD’s Turbo Core technology that allows the cores to speed up for a short period of time on certain workloads. One of the big difference between many of the mobile processors are the graphics. As we already noted, both mobile and desktop Kaveri APUs are powered by graphics that utilize AMD's GCN architecture. Each Kaveri APU has up to 8 GPU Compute Cores with speeds ranging from 514MHz to 686MHz.
So, what does all this get you when it comes to performance? AMD says that the FX-7500 'Kaveri' APU should be comparable to the Intel Core i7-4500U 'Haswell' mobile processor when it comes to PCMark8 and is 50% faster in 3DMark and Basemark CL. The Intel Core i7-4500U is a 15W TDP part and the AMD FX-7500 is a 19W part, but that is a pretty good showing for AMD.
The same holds true when you move down the product stack to the AMD A10-7300 and compare that to the Intel Core i7-4200U 'Haswell' processor. The only difference here is that there is just a 20% performance difference in Basemark CL. It looks like mobile Kaveri is going to offer some solid performance, so lets take a look at the prototype Kaveri notebook and run some of our own numbers.
AMD Kaveri FX-7600P Notebook Prototype and Test Setup
To try out the AMD FX-7600P APU we were given access for an afternoon with a 15.6" prototype touch screen notebook by Compal. This is basically an internal reference design that may likely never see the light of day, but it should be fine to show off what the mobile Kaveri APU can do. From what we can tell AMD took their 95W desktop processor, the A10-7850K, and reduced voltages and the clock speeds to make it their flagship mobile part. To be specific the CPU base clock was lowered from 3.7 GHz to 2.7 GHz and the GPU clock speed was dropped from 720 MHz to 686 MHz. The end result is a 35W mobile processor that is called the FX-7600P.
The bottom of the notebook clearly showed that this was a prototype and was not something that could be sold. This is the hardware and software that was installed on the system:
- Compal PD5D ODM 15.6-inch notebook
- AMD FX-7600P 3.6GHz Processor w/ Radeon R7 Graphics (Kaveri 35W Mobile Part)
- 8GB (4GBx2) Crucial/Micron DDR3 1866MHz memory in dual-channel with CL13 timings
- Samsung XP941 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- 802.11N Wireless
- Windows 8.1
- AMD Catalyst 14.4 Beta Drivers
CPU-Z was able to read the clock speeds okay, but had the code name wrongly labeled Bald Eagle. Bald Eagle are the 2nd Generation Embedded R-Series APUs. In the screen capture above you can see the AMD FX-7600P on the desktop at an idle. The clock speed is 1400MHz and CPU-Z reports the voltage as being 0.812V.
At full load we were seeing 3.65 GHz on the AMD Fx-7600P with the voltage running at 1.162V as seen in the CPU-Z 1.69.2 screen shot above.
Here is a look at HWiNFO64 that shows additional information about the test system for those that are interested.
AMD FX-7600P Kaveri Performance
In 3DMark11 we found scores of an overall score of P2147 with the default test preset. The Graphics score was 2116, the physics score was 2780 and the combined score was 1744.
n the latest build of 3DMark we found scores of 1285 in Fire Strike with the AMD FX-7600P with Radeon R7 graphics. This is a pretty damn good score, but slightly slower than the flagship Intel Core i7-4770R processor with Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 as it scored 1387 in Fire Strike.
Moving along to Cinebench R11.5 we found the AMD FX-7600P Kaveri APU scored 31.28 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 2.47 points on the multi-core CPU test and 0.79 points on the single CPU test.
A quick look at the memory performance showed just shy of 11 GB/s of bandwidth. This sounds a little low for a dual channel memory kit running at 18663MHz with CL13 memory timings, but that is what it scored.
In Sandra Processor Arithmetic the aggregate native performance score was 33.35 GOPS.
The Sandra Processor Multi-Media aggregate performance score was 61.38 MPix/s.
The Sandra Processor Cryptography bandwidth results showed the AMD Kaveri APU powered notebook was capable of 1.64GB/s.
In the Encryption Algorithm Benchmark that comes inside TrueCrypt we found an AES mean score of 1.8 GB/s.
A quick run of CrystalDiskMark v3.0.3 64-bit showed the sequential read speed at 715 MB/s and the write speed at 525.3 MB/s! The Random 4K read speed was 24.03MB/s and the 4K random write speed was 53.79MB/s. Not bad scores from the Samsung XP941 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD.
The PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3.0 benchmark score came in at 2974 with the video playback above 30FPS for the video chat and our casual gaming score was at 29 FPS.
The PCMark 8 Work Accelerated 2.0 benchmark score was 4020 with the video chat playback being 30.0FPS once again.
The final PCMark 8 benchmark that we ran was Creative Accelerated where we got an overall score of 3448. The video chat playback score came in for a third time at 30.0 FPS, so all three PCMark 8 tests that we ran had identical results there. The gaming test on this benchmark was much tougher as the gaming part one test had us at 13.3 FPS and part 2 was at 6.4 FPS.
Let's take a look at some game performance results:
Gaming and Youtube Playback Performance
The AMD FX-7600P Kaveri APU features Radeon R7 graphics with GCN, which is the best IGP solution that AMD has to offer on Kaveri. It would be an injustice to not look at how a real game title performs on this system!
Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.
We wanted to see what happened in a newer game title, so we fired up Metro: Last Light and ran some benchmarks at 1280x720 and 1920x1080 resolutions with the games built-in benchmark in order to get repeatable results. You can see our exact settings in the screen capture above.
Benchmark Results: The AMD FX-7600P with Radeon R7 graphics averaged 18 FPS on Metro Last Light at 1920x1080 and 28 FPS at 1280x720. Not bad scores as Metro LL is pretty tough on graphics cards.
Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have beem running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States.
This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with low, medium and high graphics quality to see how it would perform on the laptops native 1080P display. We used FRAPS to benchmark each card with these settings on the Shanghai level.
Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at 1920x1080 we were able to average 28 FPS with low image quality and the game was playable on the AMD Kaveri FX-7600P powered laptop without the need of discrete graphics. Once you increased the image quality settings to medium or low the game would start to get choppy and the average FPS dropped to 23 and 14 FPS, respectively.
Youtube video playback was also very good as the CPU was clocked down to 1.89GHz and was at roughly a 20% load when watching 1080P HD content online. The clip above is actually the Penny Dreadful Trailer, which is for a new series on Showtime. If we were watching local content off the SSD we were getting around 15% load with the CPU clocked between 1.65Ghz to 1.89GHz.
Let's wrap this preview up!
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
It is hard to write a conclusion after spending an afternoon with a prototype notebook, but our early impressions on the mobile version of Kaveri are pretty positive. The 15.6-inch laptop that we given the chance to benchmark on was nicely built and felt very peppy with the AMD FX-7600P processor at the helm. We did notice that AMD was using a Samsung XP941 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD though, which is a very fast drive capable of hitting 1170MB/s read and 950MB/s write since is uses the M.2 PCIe interface. We were very well aware of the fact that this $300 USD storage drive was part of the reason this platform felt so good during our use and we aren't sure how many retail laptops will feature M.2 PCIe slots or drives of this caliber. Most laptops these days from AMD are trapped down into the under $400 budget market and this is certainly not one of those laptops. We really do hope that AMD really does get some good design wins with this platform as if you put on a high quality panel with a decent resolution, a killer touch pad and support for M.2 PCIe storage drives you would end up with a great notebook. The AMD protoype that we were shown does a great job showing off what AMD's Kaveri mobile architecture can do and we can only hope that the major OEM brands (Acer, ASUS, HP, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba and so on) will see the same value and build something nice.
The x86 CPU performance isn't amazing, but it was enough to have a good user experience. The graphics side of the processor has always been good for AMD and that hasn't changed with Kaveri. We streamed online videos from YouTube and HBO GO without and issues, surfed the web, played Battlefield 4, Bioshock Infinite, Metro Last Light and even Angry Birds. Yes, Angry Birds as we had to try out that touch-screen display!
So, AMD's Kaveri mobile APU looks really exciting and after spending just an afternoon playing around with a system we have high hopes for it. If AMD can get some solid design wins with this platform there should be some great notebooks coming out this fall just in time for the back to school rush and holiday shopping season. We'll have to see what hits the market and how good it is later this year!