AMD launches its first Kaveri processors

AMD has launched its range of Kaveri accelerated processing units, its long-awaited line of more efficient chips.

AMD has launched its Kaveri accelerated processing units (APUs) – a new line of processors designed to offer improved performance and power efficiency.

The processors are the first to use AMD's more efficient Steamroller CPU microarchitecture, which can carry out up to 20 percent more instructions per clock cycle than its earlier APUs, according to AMD.

The APUs also feature AMD's heterogeneous systems architecture (HSA), which allows the chips' on-die CPU and GPU to work closely together to more effectively tackle compute workloads.

The specs of the Kaveri APUs are below. The price per processor is when bought in 1,000-unit quantities and will be slightly more when buying individual APUs.

Image: AMD

The A10-7850K and the A10-7700K95W are available now, while the A8-7600 model, which has reduced power consumption, will ship later this quarter.

The new APUs feature two dual-core x86 Steamroller modules, a Radeon R7 GPU with up to 512 stream processors (eight graphics core next (GCN) compute units), and a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller that supports a heterogenous unified memory architecture.

Other built-in accelerators include AMD TrueAudio DSPs and an AMD Unified Video Decoder, which supports hardware decoding of H.264 and VC-1 video codec standards. The chip also has built-in support for video encoding for H.264 via its video compression engine.

A new architecture

The APU's HSA introduces a heterogenous unified memory architecture, which allows the on-die GPU and CPU to address the same memory space, with a shared memory controller that fetches data for both processors. Another HSA feature is heterogeneous queueing, which allows both the CPU and GPU to dispatch work to each other and create work for themselves.

Because the APU can split general processing tasks between the CPU and GPU cores, AMD claims that Kaveri has up to 12 compute cores, four on the CPU and eight on the GPU. However not all applications can offload processing to the GPU's stream processors, in which case software will be restricted to the four x86 CPU cores.

AMD and its chosen chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries have moved from a 32nm to 28nm process to produce Kaveri processors, resulting in 2.41 billion transistors being packed onto the die.

AMD will release further processors based on the Kaveri design this year, with a 15W to 95W thermal design power envelope, targeted at laptop and desktop PCs and servers.