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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  • darkich - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    There you go.

    AnandTech, speak up!
    I'll take silence as a confirmation that I was right
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Most of the smartphone/tablet testing is done elsewhere (Brian for Smartphones, Anand for tablets). Given we're looking at tablets and laptops here, comparing performance to a Smartphone would be silly, so then we need to find a tablet with the Octa...which doesn't exist except in prototype form.

    As for the "octa" having eight cores, that's true, but it typically only runs four at a time -- either the four A7 or the four A15. With the right software (basically only a benchmark designed to do something the Galaxy S4 won't ever do on its own), you can get the theoretical performance, but in practice you won't ever get this (at least not on the only currently shipping Exynos 5 device).

    Finally, as pointed about by Kyuu, Geekbench is not a great benchmark. Sure, it can tell you some theoretical performance numbers, but many of the tests have very little to do with real workloads. I don't think we've ever used Geekbench outside of some smartphone testing, just like we don't generally report things like SuperPi or Sandra performance. Then again, I don't necessarily like Cinebench or x264 HD much either. If you want the Geekbench results, here's the 32-bit numbers for the A4-5000: 2987

    browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/1983485
    Reply
  • Exophase - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    If you're doing an SoC comparison I don't see why it matters if that SoC runs on a phone instead of a tablet. And I understand that this review may not be an SoC review, but that's what a lot of people are looking for right now.

    Geekbench's integer tests aren't that bad. Crypto, bz2 and jpeg compression/decompression done in native code are actually relatively common tasks on a variety of hardware. The code being ran on the lua test (prime testing) is junk, but since lua is interpreted most of the measurement is with how well it does with interpreters and running junk code doesn't make much difference.

    IMO your criticism applies more to Kraken which you conspicuously left out of your list of not so great (but we use them anyway) benchmarks. I gave a bunch of reasons why I don't like it in an earlier post, but I'd like to add a little bit to that - it's not just that it does a lot of DSP (audio and image processing) and crypto stuff but that these tests take up proportionately a lot more of the runtime, drowning out the little path finding and string parsing scores.

    These tasks (DSP and crypto) are useful on a variety of platforms like Geekbench's, but the problem is that they're greatly distorted by being executed in Javascript - which is not where it'll usually be ran. It's going to have a hard time optimizing beyond double precision - assuming the code wasn't intended to be double precision in the first place, which would make it even less relevant. It'll have a lot of memory overhead issues and vectorization is pretty much out of the question, despite these being vector-friendly operations. This all makes it a bad proxy for how native code would perform at these tasks, especially if we're comparing with hand optimized SSE and NEON.
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    No, the right software is a Linux kernel patch which allows all 8 cores to be used, and S4 will be upgraded to use it. Although it will improve performance, the actual goal is lower power consumption because you can now mix and match cores. Today a single high performance task forces all processes to use A15 even when they don't need it, and when the task finishes all processes have to be migrated back again. In the new world you enable 1 A15 as needed and keep 1 or 2 A7's running the background processes.

    Like most benchmarks, Geekbench is not perfect. But I agree with Exophase it is most definitely a lot better than JavaScript benchmarks. Geekbench does test real workloads (many of the tests is actual code people use), quite unlike JS benchmarks, which have nothing to do with browsing performance, let alone CPU performance.

    The state of smartphone/tablet benchmarking is a shambles - and this is an opportunity for AnandTech to make a difference. You could take a set of Linux benchmarks (eg. freely available versions of SPEC subsets, Phoronix and other common benchmarks like the ones used in Geekbench) and create an app for Android and iOS.

    Thanks for the Geekbench link, integer performance of Jaguar is slightly better than I expected vs Exynos Octa (http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/compare/... This may be partly due comparing a phone SoC with a laptop SoC (Jaguar has a major advantage on the memory/stream part), but this kind of detailed comparison is far more interesting and revealing relative strengths and weaknesses in the microarchitectures than looking at JS performance.
    Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Wow.. can you give a source about that kernel update?
    I can imagine all eight cores mixing would be beneficial on all areas.
    While four A15 cores can work asynchronously between each other(independently change frequency, idle/sleep state), their voltage is inherently higher that that of A7 cores.
    If the A57 soc will be able to mix cores too, then that will be an overall amazing prospect.

    And I completely agree about Geekbench.. no matter how realistic workloads it represents, it beyond any doubt DOES give an idea of raw processing power.
    It's ridiculous to neglect that.
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Note there are actually 3 different variants of big.Little software, ARM's hypervisor code which is OS unaware, the Linaro In-Kernel-Switcher and MP switcher (the latter supports 8 cores).

    This is the team developing the big.Little MP software: https://wiki.linaro.org/projects/big.LITTLE.MP. Here is a presentation: http://www.linaro.org/documents/download/6d58a63e4...

    Yes A57 supports big.Little with A53.
    Reply
  • darkich - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Thank you.

    This makes me wonder about the Snapdragon 800 for the Note 3 rumours..an upclocked Octa on that kernel should really be more than good enough.
    Only advantage I can see in snapdragon is the GPU..adreno 330 looks like a whole step above from anything on the market right now.
    Reply
  • Gaugamela - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    This was a really underwhelming review... Comparing Kabini to a Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge. Really?
    Why don't you make the charts with relevant comparisons instead of forcing people to dig through benchmarks to find comparable CPUs?

    And you just got to wonder what's the point of this sentence:
    "After all the bad news in terms of performance (not that it’s really bad, but it can certainly look that way at times), the good news is that not only is Kabini noticeably faster than Brazos, but it’s also mighty frugal when it comes to power use. "

    Bad news in terms of performance??? Why, because it doesn't compete with an i5 Ivy Bridge??
    If anyone wants to read a decent review to Kabini, with more comparisons to relevant notebooks head on over to Notebookcheck.net.
    Here's the link: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl...

    To sum up: The Kabini A4-5000 is competitive with a Sandy Bridge i3 in terms of CPU and GPU performance (number of cores compensating for lower single thread performance) and it sometimes shadows an Ivy Bridge i3.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    That's being awfully generous on "competitive". Single-threaded, i3-3217U is about twice as fast as A4-5000; multi-threaded it's only about 20% faster. In their graphics testing, the HD 4000 in an i3-3217U is consistently leading by 20-40%. That's a Core i3 laptop with Ivy Bridge that you can get for under $500, right now, and it's ahead by 20% or more in every test I looked at...and Core i3 with HD 4000 isn't exactly known for being a performance monster.

    I'd say that AMD is over-reaching with their targets; A6 is more like a match for Pentium, A4 for Celeron, and anything below that isn't really worth discussing (i.e. Atom). When we see the Haswell update next month, the margin in favor of Intel will only increase, but at least I don't think AMD will have to worry about ULV i3 Haswell for a few more months. Based on currently available laptops, Kabini needs to be well under $500 to compete -- or I'd say $500 is acceptable if you get a decent LCD.
    Reply
  • Gaugamela - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Considering that Notebookcheck said this:

    "Even though the A4-5000 on paper only slightly higher clocked than the recently tested A6-1450 , the performance differences in practice are quite large. The reason for this is the higher TDP Classification: Not to exceed its maximum consumption of 8 watts (without "turbo Dock"), the A6-1450 can achieve the full turbo of 1.4 GHz only with utilization of a single core; under full load decreases the frequency contrast decreases to just over 1.0 GHz. Thanks to constant fitting the A4-5000 1.5 GHz can settle in some benchmarks by almost 50 percent, and so makes a clear leap forward.

    , When all four cores, the APU beats even just the Core i3-2367M and comes in part the newer Core i3-3217U close. However, the gap in the per-thread performance remains impressive: Even a Pentium 987 per core expects at least 50 percent faster. Although the parallelization of modern applications has been greatly improved, you should not completely exclude this point.

    In everyday life, the tester provided by AMD still feels quite fast and responsive. The more power than the A6-1450 or the previous E2-1800 is quite noticeable, could additionally by a turbo mode but even higher - a pity that the A4-5000 have to do without this feature. For office and multimedia applications including full HD video, the rich, however, reserves the APU from perfect. "

    I'll go by their words since they have a more thorough review than the poor job you guys did here. The A4-5000 beats the Pentium in their benchmarks - except in single threaded performance - in every aspect. The Kabini GPU is comparable with the HD3000 in many of the graphical benchmarks and can run some non-demanding or old games. Hands-down the A4 eats the Pentium brand, so no AMD isn't over-reaching with their targets - have you tested the A6 yet and compared it with an i3 IB?

    And why are you talking about Haswell, when Kabini sits below the Intel Core brand? AMD defeats Intel below the Cores and this just confirms that.
    Now if you want to talk about Richland versus Ivy Bridge and Haswell I'll concede that AMD is really behind and Steamroller can't come soon enough.
    Reply

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