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


View All Comments

  • etre - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    "Give me a reasonable Ultrabook-style chassis (or maybe a dockable tablet) with Kabini and a decent quality 1080p touchscreen and do it at the right price and there are plenty of people that will jump at the offer."

    I concur
  • PatriciaBau42 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

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  • redross - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    "There are two non-negotiables in building a PC these days: the cost of Intel silicon and the cost of the Windows license" this was a joke right? Intel has very nice CPU's so I'll agree with that, but MS? Linux helps You save those $ for better hardware :) Reply
  • redross - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    "There are two non-negotiables in building a PC these days: the cost of Intel silicon and the cost of the Windows license" You are joking right? Intel CPU's are great so OK with that, but Microsoft? Why is it a non-negotiable? I always choose more ram/better CPU and Linux instead of Windows. Unless You work with professional CAD software (< 0.1% of users) Windows is VERY negotiable. Reply
  • redross - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    oops double post. Seems strange that a new post appears at the top and after a refresh its gone to the bottom :) Reply
  • PCpowerman - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    I am a bit disappointed that you guys call yourselves PC experts, yet you guys are comparing this architecture's power consumption as bad for performance vs. an Core i3. The issue is you guys ignored the fact that Kabini is A SYSTEM ON A CHIP. BIG DIFFERENCE!!! If you want to properly compare the Core i3 to Kabini, then you guys should also include the power consumption of the support chips that the Core i3 requires since it is just the CPU. You guys should know better!!! You are not the ignorant consumer that goes to Wal-Mart and believes the sales guy. At least I hope not!! Reply
  • random2 - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    "AMD will take less of the BoM,"

    Please if you are going to force us to read leet speak, please allow us less than high IQ types the benefit of a definition. Thank you. :)
  • ezjohny - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    This is good for mobile, but a desktop APU, AMD needs major improvements because so far Intel takes the cake in the desktop! I would like to see AMD make an APU with 1.56 single thread performance and take advantage of the latest 7000 series graphic cards with there APU for desktops!

    PC Perspective Podcast #267 - 09/05/2013, This pod cast AMD should listen to! I got an AMD Rig and I'm sick and tried of people bashing them!

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