CPU Performance & Power

On the CPU front, the difference between the Core i5-3317U and the Pentium 2020M is actually quite small. The former has a nice 2.6GHz max turbo while the latter has a higher TDP and thus a higher base clock as well. The result is that most single threaded performance results are very close between the two. If we look at Kraken, SunSpider, PCMark, Cinebench (1-thread) or 7-Zip (1-thread) - the two perform quite similarly. As a result, Kabini doesn’t really gain any ground here. In my own use, I can feel a performance difference between the 2020M and the A4-5000 in tasks like installing/launching applications, as well as bigger CPU bound activities.

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
Intel Pentium 2020M (2.4GHz IVB x 2) 4214 1.00 1.96 2856 5434
Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz IVB x 2) 4318 1.07 2.39 2816 6598

A big issue here is Kabini, at least in its launched versions, lacks any turbo core support. The 15W A4-5000 runs even single threaded tasks as if all four cores were active and eating into that TDP budget. The fastest Jaguar implementation seems to be 2GHz, but even if the A4-5000 could turbo up to that level I feel like I’d still want a bit more. There’s obviously room on the table for a Kabini refresh, even at 28nm.

For light web browsing and general use workloads Kabini, like many modern platforms, can really be good enough.

It is impossible to have a performance discussion without looking at power consumption when it comes to mobile devices. This is where Kabini makes up a lot of ground. The Pentium 2020M is a 35W part (Intel does offer slower 17W parts but I unfortunately don’t have a system that uses one of those), compared to the A4-5000’s 15W TDP. I measured total platform power of both notebooks without a battery and with the display disabled (and using the same SSD in its lowest power state). While isolating SoC power would be ideal, this does give us a general idea of platform power consumption:

Platform Power Consumption
  Idle Cinebench 11.5 (1-thread) Cinebench 11.5 (multithreaded) 7-Zip (1-thread) 7-Zip (multithreaded)
AMD A4-5000 (1.5GHz Jaguar x 4) 4.75W 7.91W 11.5W 7.9W 11.3W
Intel Pentium 2020M (2.4GHz IVB x 2) 8.14W 17.9W 22.4W 17.6W 21.7W

The difference is pretty big. Kabini will either last longer on the same size battery, or be able to fit into a smaller chassis altogether. I also suspect the 15W TDP is perhaps a bit conservative, total platform power consumption with all CPU cores firing never exceeded 12W (meaning SoC power consumption is far lower, likely sub-10W).

It’s also worth pointing out that there’s clearly a lot of thermal headroom when only a single CPU core is active. Design limitations would probably keep a single core from ramping up too high, but there’s clearly room for improvement here.

The 17W Pentium/Celeron parts are architecturally very similar to the 2020M I’m featuring here, they just run at 75% of the clock speed. If we assume perfect scaling, Intel would appear to still hold substantial single-threaded CPU performance advantage even if the comparison was to a lower clocked Pentium. Interestingly enough, the multithreaded advantage would pretty much disappear though. These 35W Pentiums seem a lot more common in retail (likely because of the spec shopping that’s presumed at these lower price points).

Compared to Atom (or Brazos), Kabini does extremely well though. Similar to Brazos, AMD is looking for Kabini to do battle slightly above its weight class. In its press materials AMD specifically calls out Pentium and Core i3 as potential targets for the A4/A6-class Kabini APUs. Part of this is AMD looking at the CPU and GPU as a whole though, so let’s move on to the graphics comparison.

Introduction GPU Performance & Power vs. Intel HD Graphics
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  • FwFred - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    Same area == less transistors, and higher power per transistor when comparing Intel's best to GF or TSMC's best. If the costs are similar, an AMD chip will be worse--less performance due to less transistors--so it will have to price it lower. It's design teams are at a distinct disadvantage, so AMD is forced to focus on seams in Intel's product lineup. Not an enviable position. Reply
  • casteve - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Would love to see HQV scores for this device. Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Those who don't understand Anand's analysis aren't qualified to even make comments on Kabini vs. Intel. The bottom line is once again AMD is offering more than intel and for substantially less cost. More in this case equals:

    1. Better user experience
    2. Better run time/longer battery life
    3. Better grahics performance by a huge amount
    4. Better price
    5. Potential for better display or SSD
    Reply
  • xenol - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    At first I saw the benchmark numbers and went "so what's AMD trying to prove here?" But then I saw the power consumption and went ô_o.

    Similar performance for a lot less power? That's good news for mobile devices.
    Reply
  • thebeastie - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    I hope to see this SoC in the next version of HPs popular Microserver, or even something that is so cheap mb+Kabini combo that I can build a comparable sized and priced HP Microserver. Reply
  • duploxxx - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    nah HP has fallen again for the Intel pressure and has chosen for a sandy in the next generation Gen8 of microservers, which will make it offcourse again way more expensive. Reply
  • Klimax - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    Too little too late. They have few weeks till Haswell (Upper limit) and a quarter or two till new Atoms. (Lower limit) Not sure if there will be much left after that. Reply
  • ddriver - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    It will still fit its niche, baytrail will still be slower, albeit a bit more efficient, and haswell will be way more expensive. Intel likes their profit margins high, even on low end products, baytrail has good chances of being more expensive. The profit margin for AMD is much thinner, they are just happy to move some product. Reply
  • kyuu - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Haswell is not going to compete on price, and the jury is still out on how low it will be able to scale power-wise since we have not seen any actual review hardware for ULV Haswell.

    As far as Atom... we have a lot of promises but Intel has yet to show any ability to do anything worthwhile with Atom. Even assuming Bay Trail lives up to promises, in a quarter or two AMD will be well on its way to releasing improved Jaguar-based silicon.
    Reply
  • Hector2 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    I bought a full sized $280 15.4" Lenovo laptop on sale several months ago. It has a Intel Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz i3 dual core with 4M of memory. I'm really happy with the performance and thrilled about the price. Very tough to beat this price/performance Reply

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