CHIP DESIGNER AMD launched its long-awaited fourth generation Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) Kaveri today.
AMD's Kaveri line of processors offers increased performance and power efficiency, and is the first series of APU chips based on AMD's heterogeneous system architecture (HSA).
AMD's latest 28nm microprocessor has 2.41 billion transistors and is designed to target "multiple segments" of the information technology industry, covering desktops, notebooks, embedded systems and even servers, with a design power range scalable from 15W to 95W.
As the successor to AMD's Richland desktop processors, Kaveri claims to provide 50 percent more GPU performance thanks to some nifty features such as a redesigned compute core architecture and the ability to share system memory via Heterogeneous Queuing (HQ), which refers to the GPU and CPU having equal flexibility to create and dispatch workloads.
The biggest architectural change for Kaveri is its use of AMD's x86 Steamroller architecture, a multi-threaded architecture focusing on enhancing the Instruction Per Cycle (IPC) rate by up to 20 percent. This is designed to feed the CPU cores faster and improve single core execution.
As the first APU to feature AMD's heterogeneous system architecture (HSA), a system of shared memory and heterogeneous queuing that allows both the CPU and GPU to create and dispatch work independently and efficiently, Kaveri is touted by AMD as having up to 12 compute cores: four CPU cores and eight AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) compute units, all linked via HSA. This means that the integrated GCN processing hardware can assist the CPUs with compute tasks.
As a result, AMD claims that Kaveri will deliver "vastly superior performance" over its competition, with no prizes for guessing that refers to Intel's Haswell processors that were launched last autumn.
As you can probably tell by the number of GPU cores, the APU is targeting gamers, having almost 50 percent of its circuit real estate dedicated to graphics processing. AMD said that the design of Kaveri is the same as its Hawaii GPU architecture but with "the addition of coherent shared unified memory", that is, the ability for both the CPU and GPU cores to access the entire memory space of up to 32GB, giving all compute components of the processor equal access.
Speaking at a press briefing, AMD said Kaveri is "a product that is at the heart of the 'lifestyle device' to give users their bragging rights", delivering features such as video encoding and decoding built in to enable fast rendering of high definition images, accelerated video and image editing via the leveraging of GPU resources in real time, gaming with increases realism in physics and artificial intelligence, and faster, more advanced user interfaces, such as gesture and speech recognition as well as facial animation and augmented reality.
The flagship Kaveri APU is the A10-7850K and is designed to compete with separate CPU and GPU system configurations. This replaces AMD's previous Richland A10-6800K APU and is clocked at 3.8GHz, hitting 4GHz in turbo mode with 12 compute cores, four CPU with eight GPU.
The second most powerful in the lineup is the A10-7700K, which has 10 compute cores, four CPU and six GPU, at 3.8GHz, while third in the lineup is the A8-7600, which also has 10 compute cores and runs at 3.8GHz but has a lower power usage and a slightly lower default CPU frequency.
AMD claims that its A10-7850K delivers an 87 percent performance improvement over Intel's Core i5 4670K CPU in gaming using the 3D Mark benchmarking tool, with a 63 percent improvement over the same Intel chip in compute power and a 24 percent improvement in system performance.
During the press briefing, AMD showed off a range of games running on the Kaveri APU, each of which looked rich in colour with high graphics quality, while playing smoothly with no visable lag. This gameplay was also seen at Computex in June when the firm showed off its fourth generation Kaveri APU chip for the first time.
The A10-7850K and A10-7700K Kaveri APUs are available today, while the A8-7600 is expected to arrive a little later this year. AMD has yet to announce UK pricing, but the APUs are available on Ebuyer for £128 and £113, respectively, so are likely to have similar prices when they hit other retailers. µ
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