Power Consumption and Conclusions

At idle, and at the same 45 watt specification, the Kaveri APU draws the same amount of power as the two Richland parts.  The Core i3-4330, though obviously on a very different platform, is a few watts under that.

Our first load power consumption test comes in the form of CineBench 11.5, a CPU heavy workload that doesn't touch the GPU portion at all.  In this case the 45 watt Kaveri A8-7600 is actually using 12 watts more power than the 45 watt Richland A10-6700T APU and 16 watts more power than the Core i3-4330!  While the ability to stay within range of Richland is great news, I would like to see power draw closer to that of the Intel Core i3-4330.  

Worth remember here is the number of times the A8-7600 was within spitting range of the A10-5800K's performance; it was able to do that while using 65 watts less power!

Our final power test uses the integrated Tomb Raider benchmark to check power draw during gaming.  Clearly the A8-7600 is using the most power out of the bunch as it has the most die space dedicated to the GPU of these tested processors.  Intel's power consumption is quite low (28 watts lower actually) though that also comes with 32% higher average frame rates.

Closing Thoughts

AMD's new Kaveri APU is an impressive feat of engineering, coming in as the very first truly HSA-compatible processor.  There are a lot of changes for AMD with this release including a new processor core, a new memory hierarchy, as well as a new process technology.  For the APU to turn out as well as it did is quite the accomplishment.  

From a CPU perspective, not much changes though.  The architecture is still well behind the Intel designs in terms of IPC and it shows in our processor-centric benchmarks and, in particular, those that are single thread heavy.  The Steamroller architecture just didn't improve x86 performance in any appreciable way and it certainly doesn't close the gap with Intel enough to affect users that remain concerned with CPU performance.  

As it happens, more and more of the software stack for PCs is moving towards the GPU or, at least, heterogeneous compute models.  Based on our gaming tests it's impossible to deny AMD's position as the leader in processor graphics with their product out performing the Intel HD 4600 by as much as 40% in 1920×1080 scenarios.  Intel does have a higher graphics option with Iris Pro but we have yet to see that implemented in the same form factor as we are testing here. Once they do, I'll be sure to see how it stacks up.

GPU performance will also lead to advantages in other application areas that utilize those compute cores effectively.  OpenCL is one such area and software developers continue to adapt and create software using it (including major vendors like Adobe and Microsoft).  Our PCMark 8 v2.0 and Basemark CL results attempt to measure the capabilities of these processors and the results show that the GPU advantage AMD enjoys pays big dividends.

The implications of this launch will resonate for years to come but, as with the case with 64-bit computing, I worry that it will take Intel jumping in to really move the industry forward.  

One area that is still tough to touch on is the performance advantages of HSA and what that means to the end user.  AMD and its team are hard at work getting software developers on board and working on software that can take advantage of the heterogeneous architectures they have built but the work is slow and tedious.  AMD did provide another couple of examples of HSA at work including a LibreOffice test and one that improves the decode performance of JPEG files on Windows.  I didn't have time (we were very limited after our CES return) to check out the LibreOffice test enough to feel comfortable including it and the JPEG decompression demo program had some performance issues which raised questions that AMD couldn't answer for me in a timely manner.  As we take a look at more of the Kaveri APUs, including that slippery A10-7850K, I'll be sure to find more ways to demonstrate the potential that HSA offers for software going forward.

The AMD A8-7600 APU is a fantastic processor that will surely find a home in users systems and OEM PCs that need the 45 watt thermal limit.  It offers adequate CPU performance and well above the average GPU performance to show that even though AMD definitely has issues on the processor side, it is innovating in the key areas of visual and heterogeneous computing.  For DIY buyers that want a very cool and quiet HTPC or SteamOS build, the A8-7600, priced at just $139 based on AMD's estimates, will be a fantastic choice.  

It's just unfortunate that I don't know how well the A10-7850K (Kaveri's launch flagship) will perform to offer a more complete recommendation.

AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU – Value and Efficiency Leader

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