Kabini vs. Clover Trail & ARM

Kabini is a difficult SoC to evaluate, primarily because of the nature of the test system we're using to evaluate it today. Although AMD's Jaguar cores are power efficient enough to end up in tablets, the 15W A4-5000 we're looking at today is a bit too much for something the size of an iPad. Temash, Kabini's even lower power counterpart, will change that but we don't have Temash with us today. Rather than wait for AMD to get us a Temash based tablet, I wanted to get an idea of how Jaguar stacks up to some of the modern low-power x86 and ARM competitors.

To start, let's characterize Jaguar in terms of its performance compared to Bobcat as well as Intel's current 32nm in-order Saltwell Atom core. As a reference, I've thrown in a 17W dual-core Ivy Bridge. The benchmarks we're looking at are PCMark 7 (only run on those systems with SSDs), Cinebench (FP workload) and 7-Zip (integer workload). With the exception of Kabini, all of these parts are dual-core. The Atom and Core i5 systems are dual-core but have Hyper-Threading enabled so they present themselves to the OS as 4-thread machines.

CPU Performance
  PCMark 7 Cinebench 11.5 (Single Threaded) Cinebench 11.5 (Multithreaded) 7-Zip Benchmark (Single Threaded) 7-Zip Benchmark (Multithreaded)
AMD A4-5000 (1.5GHz Jaguar x 4) 2425 0.39 1.5 1323 4509
AMD E-350 (1.6GHz Bobcat x 2) 1986 0.32 0.61 1281 2522
Intel Atom Z2760 (1.8GHz Saltwell x 2) - 0.17 0.52 754 2304
Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz IVB x 2) 4318 1.07 2.39 2816 6598

Compared to a similarly clocked dual-core Bobcat part, Kabini shows a healthy improvement in PCMark 7 performance. Despite the clock speed disadvantage, the A4-5000 manages 22% better performance than AMD's E-350. The impressive gains continue as we look at single-threaded Cinebench performance. Again, a 22% increase compared to Bobcat. Multithreaded Cinebench performance scales by more than 2x thanks to the core count doubling and increased multi-core efficiency. The current generation Atom comparison here is just laughable—Jaguar offers more than twice the performance of Clover Trail in single threaded Cinebench.

The single threaded 7-Zip benchmark shows only mild gains if we don't take into account clock speed differences. If you normalize for CPU frequency, Jaguar is likely around 9% faster than Bobcat here. Multithreaded gains are quite good as well. Once again, Atom is no where near AMD's new A4.

The Ivy Bridge comparison is really just for reference. In all of the lightly threaded cases, a 1.7GHz Ivy Bridge delivers over 2x the performance of the A4-5000. The gap narrows for heavily threaded workloads but obviously any bigger core going into a more expensive system will yield appreciably better results.

For the next test I expanded our comparison to include an ARM based SoC: the dual-core Cortex A15 powered Samsung Exynos 5250 courtesy of Google's Nexus 10. These cross platform benchmarks are all browser based and run in Google Chrome:

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Chrome)

Here we see a 14% improvement over Bobcat, likely closer to 20% if we normalized clock speed between the parts—tracking perfectly with AMD's promised IPC gains for Jaguar. The A4-5000 completes the Kraken benchmark in less than half the time. The 1.7GHz Ivy Bridge part is obviously quicker, but what's interesting is that if we limit the IVB CPU's frequency to 800MHz Kabini is actually a near identical performer.

Jaguar seems to be around 9-20% faster than Bobcat depending on the benchmark. Multithreaded workloads are obviously much better as there are simply more cores to run on. In practice, using the Kabini test system vs. an old Brazos machine delivers a noticeable difference in user experience. Clover Trail feels anemic by comparison and even Brazos feels quite dated. Seeing as how Bobcat was already quicker than ARM's Cortex A15, its no surprise that Jaguar is as well. The bigger problem here is Kabini needs much lower platform power to really threaten the Cortex A15 in tablets—we'll see how Temash fares as soon as we can get our hands on a tablet.

AMD’s Kabini Laptop Prototype Kabini vs CT/ARM: GPU Performance
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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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