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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  • georgec84 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    These chis look great! I hope it can provide AMD with a small spark. They certainly seem to be looking up compared to 2 years ago. Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    I think it would have been interesting if Anand tested the CPU against some older mid-range to high-end CPUs. From my own assessments it looks like Jaguar has slightly better IPC than K8 and is overall comparable to the original Phenom (though obviously without the huge power consumption). Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    I really want to see a comprehensive rundown of single-threaded tests with constant clock rate. We have a rough idea of which architectures have better IPC, but I'd like to see some hard numbers. Reply
  • Streetwind - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    This is the first real step forard for AMD I've seen in nearly a decade... everything else were minor clock speed bumps, experimental architectures that ended up being slower clock-for-clock than the old ones, big iGPUs and shuffling around its product stack to target a changing market with the same technology.

    The performance advantage Intel has accumulated over the years means that AMD can still only really compete via price, but Kabini is finally the kind of product that attempts to narrow the gap with the competition again. Please AMD, more of this! Maybe in one or two years we the consumers will have a real choice in the x86 market again if you keep it up.
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Regarding memory performance: as I understand it, Kabini supports two DIMMs, but only single-channel. Reply
  • darkich - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Why are you always comparing that dual core ARM chip?
    Why not Octa chip?(like, the best currently available ARM chip)
    And why always avoid using Geekbench, but instead use a heavily software dependant tests?
    This always seems to be case when dealing with ARM on this site.
    Really, it looks like a deliberate undermining of the architecture, in my mind.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    One: the "octa chip" is really quad-core.

    Two: Geekbench is not a great benchmark utility, especially when comparing cross-platform.

    Three: Attributing an anti-ARM agenda to this website is pretty freakin' silly.
    Reply
  • darkich - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    One: the chip has 4+4 independently operated core clusters.
    Operating at low power cores makes for a very advanced solution, compared to big cores revving down for a certain task.
    Besides, what does your remark have to do with what I said?
    My point is, Octa is a FAR more capable ARM chip than the one used in this comparison.. yet it doesn't cost more, and consumes up to 70% less power.

    Two: as opposed to what? Comparing Chrome for Android with Chrome for Windows?
    Geekbench is not perfect, but it is the best you can try when comparing across platforms.
    It is the ONLY credible comparison of pure processing abilities in this case.

    Three: answer the first two then. What am I missing here?
    Reply
  • darkich - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Correction..I meant two modules (core clusters), with 4 cores each, of course Reply
  • Wilco1 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    And those 2x4 cores can run simulataneously with the right software, hence the name Octa.

    I agree with darkich that Anand always appears to show ARM in the worst light, first by only showing JavaScript browser tests rather than native code benchmarks, and second by insisting on the Chrome browser rather than the stock or fastest available browser. For example Geekbench shows that Exynos Octa easily beats Bobcat at the same frequency:

    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/compare/...

    This means Jaguar will get very close to A15 - until Cortex-A57 is released of course.
    Reply

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