AMD’s Kabini Laptop Prototype

AMD shipped hardware sites special prototype laptops, similar to what we’ve seen in the past with Sandy Bridge, Llano, Ivy Bridge, and Trinity. These systems typically aren’t intended to hit retail outlets, though in some cases they may be very similar to production laptops; I’d guess that’s not the case with the Kabini prototype.

The laptop is actually very interesting in some areas, but it has major flaws in others—chiefly the build quality, keyboard, and touchpad. There’s more flex in this keyboard than in a steroid laced bodybuilding contest, and the feel of both the keys as well as the touchpad is poor at best. Those are areas that are easy to address, and given we’re not looking at hardware intended for retail sales it’s not too much of a problem; we only need the laptop for benchmarks right now.

If that’s the bad news, what’s the interesting aspect? The display. It’s the first high quality 1080p 14” LCD I’ve personally encountered. It’s an AU Optronics AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) panel, model AUO B140HAN01.1. I’m hopeful that with AMD using such a panel in a prototype laptop, we may finally be nearing the end of the horrible 1366x768 panels…but don’t hold your breath.

Here’s the short rundown of the laptop’s hardware.

AMD Kabini Prototype Specifications
Processor AMD A4-5000M
(Quad-core 1.50GHz, 2MB L2, 28nm, 15W)
Chipset Yangtze
Memory 4GB (1x4GB) DDR3L-1600 (11-11-11-28?)
Graphics AMD HD 8330
(128 cores, 500MHz)
Display 14.0" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
(AUO B140HAN01.1)
Storage 320GB Toshiba HDD (MQ01ABD032)
Optical Drive DVDRW (HL-DT-ST GU70N)
Networking 802.11n WiFi (Broadcom BCM43228)
(Dual-band 2x2:2 300Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Broadcom)
Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8161)
Audio Conexant HD (R600)
Stereo Speakers
Headphone/Microphone combo jack
Battery/Power 6-cell, 15V, 3000mAh, 45Wh
65W Max AC Adapter
Front Side Flash Reader (MMC/SD)
Left Side 1 x USB 3.0 (Powered when Sleeping)
1 x Mini-HDMI
1 x VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
Exhaust Vent
AC Power Connection
Right Side Headphone and Microphone
2 x USB 2.0
Optical Drive
Kensington Lock
Back Side N/A
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 13.34" x 9.47" x 0.88" (WxDxH)
(339mm x 241mm x 22.4mm)
Weight 3.81 lbs (1.73kg)
Extras Webcam
86-Key Keyboard

Just to call out a couple noteworthy items, first is the single-channel memory configuration. In theory that could be hampering performance somewhat, but we have no real way of knowing. While the laptop does support two SO-DIMMs, Kabini only supports a single-channel interface, so adding a second SO-DIMM wouldn't help.

The other configuration item I want to call out is the storage device, specifically the Toshiba HDD. Hard drives are slow, we all know this, but our experience over the past several years suggests that Toshiba’s 5400RPM hard drives are even slower than other offerings. Anand installed an SSD to run PCMark 7 for comparison, and that certainly helps with overall responsiveness. Realistically, though, we’re not at the stage where I expect laptops using Kabini to ship with SSDs—even an inexpensive 128GB SSD will increase the total BoM by 15% or more, which isn’t going to fly in the budget sector Kabini is destined to compete in.

Before we get to the actual benchmarks, let me go over the general impression of the system in day-to-day use. For much of what you might do (e.g. surfing the web, watching streaming videos, emailing, and office use), Kabini works well. Technically even Atom and Brazos can handle most of those tasks, but there’s a noticeable speed up in typical use. However, there are also occasions where the system really bogs down; some of that may be thanks to the slow HDD, or (less likely) the single-channel memory, but while Jaguar cores are a step up in performance from Brazos cores (never mind Intel’s Atom variants), they’re still nowhere near as fast as a Trinity or Ivy Bridge core.

What Kabini really brings to the table is ultra low power requirements with performance that’s a great match for ultraportable devices. We’ll see the Temash APUs (basically a lower power Kabini) in tablets, but Kabini may find its way into a few larger tablets as well as hybrid devices. At 9W and 15W TDPs, basically anywhere we’ve seen Intel’s ULV cores show up is a place that Kabini can go as well. There are compromises you’ll have to make one way or the other (faster CPU, faster GPU, battery life, drivers, features, etc.), and I don’t think there’s going to be a single “correct” solution for every device out there. Choice is the name of the game, and even if you decide Kabini may not be right for you at least it’s good to have an alternative.

Introducing AMD's 2013 Mainstream APU Platform, aka Kabini Kabini vs. Clover Trail & ARM
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  • Kevin G - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Those aren't real benchmarks, just estimates that are based upon improvements from an anonymous source. Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    It should be criminal to market any of these chips as "Elite Performance" platforms. The words elite and performance have pretty well understood meanings, which nothing AMD is offering stand up to. If I'm shopping for a new computer and it is advertised as an elite performance platform, I'm going to expect it to run AAA games at elite settings.

    AMD is distancing themselves from my wallet a little more every day, thanks to weak products, weak initiatives, hype and terribly dishonest marketing.
    Reply
  • Finally - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    I want a Kabini in my Office PC, I want one in my 13' laptop and I surely will be recommending them to all my friends. Reply
  • lmcd - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Don't know about in your office PC unless you're an Office-only type of worker. I guess that applies to a lot, but I wouldn't know. I could see it in an AIO for office type of deal, or nice, SFF setups. I feel like multi-seat and/or thin-client setups would be cheaper though. May as well buy that i3 if you're getting an independent machine. Reply
  • wumpus - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Considering just how many office machines are running XP (the pentium4s only get replaced when they burn up, the core-based products are likely to stay until the IT department adopts some faddish idiocy*).

    * not saying that core+windows is irreplaceable, just that stupid business fads are much more likely than real reasons to replace them, the money being available, and enough pointy haired bosses on board at the same time.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Uh huh, I'm sure you were totally predisposed toward getting an AMD product until you saw that marketing-speak.

    Dude, it's marketing. Intel is just as (if not more guilty) of the same. Feel free to hate marketing-speak -- I certainly do. But let's not pretend it's something unique to AMD, m'kay?

    And uh, there's nothing weak about Jaguar, from what I can see. It looks like the best low-power x86 SoC bar by a large measure.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    It looks like the best low-power x86 SoC by a large measure.** Reply
  • yannigr - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    You are free to buy an Intel product, you know Intel, that beautiful company that in the past was threatening anyone thinking that he could sell PC's with Athlon's. That behavior off course has nothing to do with words like "criminal" or "dishonest marketing". So go and buy an Intel system, the "dishonest marketing" free and "criminal" hardware. Reply
  • yannigr - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    I meant "criminal" free hardware off course.
    Intel, because we hate monopoly.
    Reply
  • lmcd - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Ya know, it happened, but an i3 ULV with 4k graphics knocks this chip silly, to ignore GT3e coming around the corner. Sorry but it's to the point where Intel will never need such moves again. Reply

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