Filling the Product Gaps
AMD is finally releasing several new members of the Kaveri family
In the first several years of my PCPer employment, I typically handled most of the AMD CPU refreshes. These were rather standard affairs that involved small jumps in clockspeed and performance. These happened every 6 to 8 months, with the bigger architectural shifts happening some years apart. We are finally seeing a new refresh of the AMD APU parts after the initial release of Kaveri to the world at the beginning of this year. This update is different. Unlike previous years, there are no faster parts than the already available A10-7850K.
This refresh deals with fleshing out the rest of the Kaveri lineup with products that address different TDPs, markets, and prices. The A10-7850K is still the king when it comes to performance on the FM2+ socket (as long as users do not pay attention to the faster CPU performance of the A10-6800K). The initial launch in January also featured another part that never became available until now; the A8-7600 was supposed to be available some months ago, but is only making it to market now. The 7600 part was unique in that it had a configurable TDP that went from 65 watts down to 45 watts. The 7850K on the other hand was configurable from 95 watts down to 65 watts.
So what are we seeing today? AMD is releasing three parts to address the lower power markets that AMD hopes to expand their reach into. The A8-7600 was again detailed back in January, but never released until recently. The other two parts are brand new. The A10-7800 is a 65 watt TDP part with a cTDP that goes down to 45 watts. The other new chip is the A6-7600K which is unlocked, has a configurable TDP, and looks to compete directly with Intel’s recently released 20 year Anniversary Pentium G3258.
AMD is working hard to carve out a new niche for itself, and it is leaning heavily on their GPU technology. It is unfortunate that we have yet to see a hex-core Kaveri variant, or even a faster quad core unit to help compete against the array of Intel products in that same price range. The GCN architecture that powers the Kaveri based APUs is strong. Not only is it strong, but it is flexible. AMD gave over ½ of the die space to this monster graphical unit, and when we look at the benchmarks we can see why. AMD is betting heavily on visual computing and GPGPU/HSA implementations coming down the line to give more value to their parts than what Intel can currently provide. Unfortunately for AMD, the Steamroller architecture powering the CPU portion does not show the IPC increases that we were hoping for. This takes some of the luster from the excellent graphics component of this APU.
So here we are, roughly some seven months from the initial Kaveri launch. AMD is not offering faster products for the FM2+ socket, but they are offering interesting products. The cTDP option is certainly a compelling one for end users and OEMs. It allows OEMs to offer lower power systems in smaller chassis that have performance near that of the higher powered SKUs. If performance is the primary goal, then the higher TDP setting will afford users and OEMs that particular option. It also allows AMD to get closer to the TDP ratings of comparable Intel parts at the low end.