This was something of a wild ride. I have always had an attraction to budget and midrange products, and I think a big part of that is seeing where that sweet spot of price vs. performance really falls. I like to tweak things to see where I can really see some performance games. The budget and midrange sectors give users the greatest chance for the greatest gains for the lowest overall price. The AM1 platform is attempting to perhaps not redefine this area, but rather change the conversation about it. AM1 will likely not overclock worth beans, but the combination of efficiency and a deep feature set will make this product appealing to a significant cross section of consumers.
AMD saw that there was a market for a product like Kabini at 25 watts. Previously AMD kept Bobcat at 18 watts, but the extra headroom they are giving Kabini allows for double the cores and a boost in clockspeeds. Not to mention the jump from the VLIW-5 graphics architecture to GCN! Kabini also features quite a few fixed function units to offload video playback as well as encoding from the CPU, thereby making the processor even more efficient in commonly used applications and scenarios.
The price is right for these parts as well. The combination of motherboard and APU will be less than $100 in most instances. Throw in an inexpensive hard drive, power supply, case, and a single 4 GB DIMM, it will all be available for less than $250 (without OS). It is a nice combination of performance considering the features that this particular APU brings to the table at 25 watts. A true quad core running at 2 GHz with a solid GCN based graphics implementation attached makes for a pretty neat part.
Whatcha gonna do with all that power? The power delivery system is pretty minimal for a 25 watt TDP APU.
This product is not for everyone, though. Users who want more graphics and gaming performance from their APU will need to look elsewhere. Enthusiasts who are willing to spend thousands of dollars on their rigs are going to ignore this. People who want a very inexpensive, efficient, and feature packed product that can get themselves and their relatives through their regular computing day without issue could very well be interested in this. It can play a lot of casual games, it can do some interesting things with video and photo editing/presentations, it has the capabilities to show 4K content at 30 Hz. Good things come in small packages, right?
It is unfortunate that I was unable to get a working Intel Bay Trail D based product in for testing, but all indications point to these AM1 parts outperforming the Intel J1900 and J2900 products across the board. The only exception of course is that of power. The Bay Trail parts for the desktop are listed as 10 watt TDP. We will dig more to see exactly how much more efficient they are as compared to the performance they exhibit against the AMD lineup.
AM1 is not the end-all, be-all of computing. It is a tightly focused product that is aimed at a certain market. It will not appeal to all consumers. It will appeal to some. It has shown itself to be a nicely performing part that is extremely energy efficient. AMD won’t blow any hair back with this release, but they do deliver on a product that hits all the major checkboxes for modern home computing. Now we just have to see if the uptake in the consumer market was worth AMD’s time. I think it might just be.