AMD aims for better battery life with next-gen laptop chip

AMD's next-generation A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for laptops and low-power desktops, codenamed "Carrizo", will simultaneously ramp up energy efficiency and boost performance.

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AMD

AMD's next-generation A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for laptops and low-power desktops, codenamed "Carrizo", will simultaneously ramp up energy efficiency and boost performance.

Carrizo will be an x86 APU built using 28-nanometer architecture and will, according to AMD, be optimized for both power and area efficiency. It is expected to make an appearance inside notebooks and all-in-one PCs towards mid-year, but AMD has unveiled some details about the new chip at International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

Intel is expected to start shipping its new quad-core Broadwell processors at around the same time.

  • 29 percent more transistors in nearly the same die size as its predecessor, the "Kaveri"
  • New "Excavator" x86 cores provide an uplift in instructions-per-clock at 40 percent less power
  • New Radeon GPU cores with dedicated power supply
  • Dedicated, on-chip H.265 video decode
  • Double-digit percentage increases in both performance and battery life
  • Integrated Southbridge for the first time on an AMD high-performance APU

One of the ways AMD has come up with to save power is by better optimizing the voltages used by the chip. Carrizo uses voltage adaptive operation functions in both the CPU and the GPU to control power at the nanosecond level, with "almost no compromise in computing performance." This cuts the power used by the GPU by up to 10 percent, and by up to 19 percent on the CPU.

Carrizo also features a new power technology called adaptive voltage and frequency scaling (AVFS). This uses patented silicon speed capability sensors along and voltage sensors in tandem with traditional temperature and power sensors to "enable each individual APU to adapt to its particular silicon characteristics, platform behavior, and operating environment."

AVFS can lead to up to 30 percent power savings.

"As a part of our continued focus on building great products, the advanced power and performance optimizations we have designed into our upcoming Carrizo APU will deliver the largest generational performance-per-watt gain ever for a mainstream AMD APU," said Sam Naffziger, AMD Corporate Fellow and co-author of the AMD presentation at ISSCC.

"There have been remarkable advances in performance and energy efficiency in computing since the birth of the modern microprocessor. However, the energy-related benefits that flow from new manufacturing processes have slowed, ushering in an era when alternative ways to improve processor performance and efficiency are needed. AMD has been pursuing Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and proprietary power management technologies to make continued gains. The upcoming Carrizo APU takes a big step toward the AMD 25x20 energy efficiency goal and incorporates a wealth of new features that will be adopted across our full product line going forward."

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