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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  • nunomoreira10 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    try turning off turbo-boost
    it did wonders for mine
    select 99% maxprocesserspeed on power management
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Where did you get that platform power consumption from? Because I've done some pretty extensive measurements on my own laptop (a not-really-ultrabook Medion, i5-3317U, UM77 chipset, 4GB RAM, Samsung 840, crappy display on eDP) and I got an idle total platform power of 3.3W. Of course that's with a 3.0W TDP UM77 chipset and not one of the 4.1W TDP non-ultramobile chipsets, but I don't think the gap should be *that* big! You're saying 8.14W for your Pentium 2020M setup, there must be some power hog or some software setting that you missed. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    It's a 35W CPU in a $3xx system; unlike your not-really-an-ultrabook I doubt power consumption was a major vendor concern. Reply
  • repoman27 - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    "As a more fully integrated SoC, Kabini’s IO duties are handled by an on-die North Bridge."

    On die northbridge is nothing new. Kabini has an on die FCH—both the north and south bridges are now integrated.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Oops, sorry DanNeely. That was supposed to be a comment, not a reply. Still getting used to the new site layout. Reply
  • thuejk - Friday, May 24, 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.

    The Windows license is becoming a bit optional. With Steam on Linux, lots of indie games with Linux support, and wine emulation (Starcraft II!), running Linux is becoming possible for gamers willing to limit their game library a bit.
    Reply
  • Calinou__ - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    It always was optional. There were lots of games before there was Steam, too.

    But well, you know, that's Anandtech. If it's non-commercial then it sucks. 8)
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    100% agreed with your conclusion. While cheaper-than-Pentium Kabini laptops would be okay (and will happen), I would like to see a Kabini laptop priced the same with a slightly larger battery, better/higher-res display and maybe more RAM or a small-ish SSD at the same price than competing Intel based laptops. Reply
  • Gaugamela - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    This is more like it. The previous review was just pitiful. Considering that Notebookcheck.net had a much more extensive review, Notebookreview had an awesome review with glowing conclusions to Kabini, that Tomshardware managed to make a comparison with a 35W Pentium and an i3 Ivy Bridge you guys just had to do damage control.

    Kabini is a great piece of hardware. Super efficient and with enough performance for the majority of users not to notice an impact in daily use. Especially if options with an SSD exist.
    Considering how it competes with a 35W Pentium and how efficient it is (it puts to shame the Ivy Bridge i3) this is an awesome chip. And then there's the matter of price. Considering this is a SoC, it is much cheaper than anything that Intel has to offer.

    So, yes AMD has a great product here. And you guys will have to change your tune and stop using them as punching bags.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    [Rolls eyes]

    The previous review was under a severe time crunch, and while we'd love to have performance scores from every noteworthy CPU/APU out there (hello ULV Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, Trinity...) the fact is no one ever sent us laptops with those parts, and nearly all of the laptops we've reviewed over the past two years have gone back to the manufacturers.

    This follow-up isn't about damage control, it's about hoping -- praying! -- that the OEMs won't do with Kabini what they've done with every other low-cost APU out there. I'm skeptical that we can get leopard to change their spots (i.e. budget laptop manufacturers to give us decent displays and chassis to go with the Kabini/Temash SoCs), but we shall see. For the price, Kabini has something to offer, but history suggests that most OEMs will take the cost savings and cut corners everywhere else to create mediocre laptops. The best CPU/APU/SoC in the world married to a lousy design is not a compelling product.

    The simple fact of the matter is that you can't handle a the reality of the price/performance equation. Kabini laptops (and Temash tablets) will need to offer either better features/quality and/or lower cost than Core i3 in order to truly impress. They'll likely sell fine regardless, just like Brazos, but speaking of Brazos I actually managed to borrow a C-50 from a friend today, and I had forgotten just how bad the experience can be. E-350 was tolerable; C-50, not so much. Compared to C-50, the A4-5000 is amazingly fast! That's the problem with living in a vacuum where you only look at the comparisons a product wins: there are a lot of options out there to consider.

    If there are two laptops with the same design, features, and components at the same price, and one has Kabini A4-5000 while the other has i3-3217U, it's a tossup. We know i3-3217U will have better CPU performance, and in many cases it will have better GPU performance as well. Kabini should have a slight edge in power use. Depending on the user's needs, either laptop could be a good fit, but personally I'd take Core i3 with HD 4000 and slightly worse battery life since I rarely need 7+ hours off the mains. On the other hand, if the Kabini option has a better LCD, or an SSD, that would be enough to give it the nod. This is exactly what we said in the original review, but you keep overlooking that fact.
    Reply

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