Computex 2014: AMD announces Kaveri mobile chips, challenges Intel

Computex 2014: AMD announces Kaveri mobile chips, challenges Intel

Summary: AMD announced the mobile version of its Kaveri mainstream processor and claimed it was now prepared to go 'toe-to-toe' with Intel’s Core processors. Along with the new mobile APUs, AMD announced new branding and rolled out a Pro Series to challenge Intel's vPro in the enterprise.

TOPICS: Processors, Laptops

At its Computex press conference, AMD announced the mobile version of its Kaveri mainstream processor and claimed it was now prepared to go “toe-to-toe” with Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors. Along with the new mobile APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), AMD announced new branding and rolled out a Pro Series for business systems.

AMD first demonstrated Kaveri desktop APUs at last year's show and they began shipping earlier this year. The basics of the architecture are the same: an enhanced Steamroller CPU core combined with AMD’s Graphics Core Next Architecture with Radeon R7 series graphics. Borrowing a page from Nvidia’s "192-core" Tegra K1, AMD said that the mobile version of Kaveri has up to 12 "compute cores," which translates to four general-purpose CPU cores and eight GPU cores. Combined, these compute cores can deliver up to 818 gigaflops of performance, according to AMD. Laptops using the mobile Kaveri APUs will be available this year from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and others.

Kevin Lensing, the senior director of AMD’s Mobility Product Line, said Kaveri is AMD’s first mobile chip that couples the CPU and GPU together using its HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture). In short, this means that the system can more easily offload some computing tasks from the CPU to the GPU to boost performance. For example, AMD demonstrated how a Kaveri system could apply a filter in Adobe Photoshop much faster than on an Intel Core-based system using Open CL hardware acceleration.

AMD has a separate FX Series brand for its high-performance CPUs targeted at gamers and enthusiasts, but its future has been a bit uncertain ever since the company removed it from the product roadmap. Whatever happens to the CPU, the brand will apparently live on since AMD is extending it to the fastest mobile Kaveri APUs. Lensing showed an HP gaming laptop that he said will be one of the first to use the FX Series APUs.

Aside from 3D graphics, AMD has generally shied away from performance comparisons with Core processors because the CPU performance has fallen short. That no longer seems to be the case. "Across the board on benchmarks we actually go toe-to-toe, and in many cases beat the Core i7," Lensing claimed. As with all benchmarks supplied by vendors, you need to take these with a grain of salt, and wait for independent, real-world tests. But it is nonetheless interesting to see AMD directly challenging Intel on CPU performance once again.


AMD is also looking to challenge Intel in business laptops — an area where it has a long way to go to catch up with vPro. The new AMD Pro Series has three features that separate it from the consumer version. First, at any given price, the Pro APU will outperform its consumer counterpart. Second, the same Pro models will be available longer. Finally, AMD is promising a more stable software image with few changes to the BIOS or drivers. Lensing said the Pro Series is helping AMD crack commercial systems such as HP’s EliteBook line.

AMD said it has shipped more than 150 million APUs since it launched the first ones in early 2011.

Topics: Processors, Laptops

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  • Good to see

    It's been a while since I've used an AMD chip. I'm glad to see them back in the game, competition is good for all of us!
  • Not suitable for gamers

    Sorry but I can find nothing in this report that shows me that AMD chips are anywhere near as fast as the Intel ones.

    The chart say's: 'Up to 52% performance' against the i3 processor. But how does it compare to i5 or i7 processors when the graphics capability are removed? Which is what gamers need to know.
    • What gamers really need to know.

      95% "and that's being conservative" of the current titles released are GPU dependent. You can couple and I7 vs an FX8350 with the "same gaming video card and drive" and the frame rates will be negligible and for the most part imperceptible.

      The following is only theory there is no such device currently in design. I'm only sharing because you need to know where HSA and compute cores can go if engineered properly.

      In theory with the right engineering you could place a SOC design onto a GPU PCB geared to fit into a PCIE 3.0 16x slot the max transfer rate is 8GT/s on PCIE 3.0 and if properly engineered such a compute core based processor design could "again in theory" have the potential to easily reach the same 5.6 TFLOPS operations per second as the current GPU only counterparts "again in theory".

      In comparison currently the I7 39xxk runs around 150gflops per second. Such a device would be a beast, yet with a comparable power draw of a mid high range GPU 200-350w

      Of course AMD would never think of adding more cores "even compute ones" to a slot based APU design "that's entirely out of character for them". Only time will tell though it would be interesting to see none the less.

      I personally would love to see this implemented in the form of a 2,816 core beast 4 CPU cores with 2812 compute cores would be a sight to behold with a encoder utilizing HSA. I wouldn't give two craps how much the TPD was at that point. :)
  • 4K

    Systems that support the new 4K monitors are going to be in high demand. How well an AMD system does in supporting the Ultra High Definition market should be important. Will there be a processor that can support the demand of 4K without extra dedicated video cards?
  • Power efficiency?

    Look, Intel lately has been all about lowering power consumption while basically treading water on processing speed. And they've been very successful, enabling much longer battery life, thinner designs, with less fan noise. So it would make sense to talk some about how the new AMD chips compare in that regard. Nothing here about that. I mean, they can go toe to toe on speed but how about battery life?
    • According to the site

      The upcoming FX-7600P APU "according to AMD" is going to have a total power draw of 35w, that's basically a quad core and an R7 series video chip pulling 35w not too shabby. When you put that side by side with an I7/I5 and 3rd party performance graphics it's coupled with. It should be roughly the same power draw depending on what on board graphics it's coupled with. Also this design potentially mitigates the issue plaguing many previous generation laptops with the separate on board graphics chip warping out of its BGA socket. I'm not counting Intel HD graphics. "Intel doesn't even count Intel HD graphics anymore so why should I".
      • Self correction

        The FX line will have an estimated 35w TPD "which is expected from performance anything". Meanwhile The Low-Power family of multicore x86 APUs “Mullins” are basically a SOC sys on a chip with two to four x86 cores and also incorporate Radeon graphics with power draw as low as 3.95W "I'm guessing dual core with radeon r series graphics".
  • Manufacturing is the key

    They may be comparable but they need to find a price point that competes with Intel and gives them a profit. They also need to compete on the power level too.