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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  • Gaugamela - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    I'm fully aware that Kabini can't beat an i3. But you should also be fully aware that AMD in their slides doesn't point the A4-5000 as competing with i3 Ivy Bridge but with Pentiums. They mention the 25W A6 as competition for the i3's. Would that APU be competitive with the i3 still in performance/power consumption/GPU/price? I remain a bit more skeptical of that. Will the OEMs use it in compelling designs instead of using it in the crappiest notebooks in the market? I certainly hope so, just like you.

    As for what the OEMs do, the only one that used a AMD APU in a premium case was Asus with their U38N and U38DT. It's a 13,3'' Zenbook with Trinity APUs. It has a Full HD multi-touch IPS displays, aluminum body, and offers a lower price than comparable ultrabooks from Intel (obviously with lower CPU performance). I would expect for a Kabini/Richland refresh though. What I would love to see, is if you want that type of notebooks so much ask OEMs to send them to you for review if they're available.

    In my case, I am not blind and if I had to pick a cheap notebook I would go for the Asus x202e. I always go for high performance notebooks (that's why my picks have always been Intel/Nvidia notebooks). However, while you may get the Asus x202e in the US for 400$ in my country it's available for 600€! A comparable Kabini notebook would cost probably 400-450€ since it doesn't have the Intel sticker.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Not sure if you get Vizio offerings, but Vizio looks to have some compelling Richland (maybe Kabini as well?) touchscreen laptops launching soon. We'll certainly try to get them, but sadly a lot of OEMs are very particular over what laptops they send for review, hence the lack of i3 ULV, Pentium, Celeron, Trinity ULV, etc. If I had the money, I'd just go buy the damn things for review, but that's not generally practical. Reply
  • Gaugamela - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately there's no Vizio offerings in Europe. :(
    They are beautiful and seem to be one of the few OEMs that use AMD APUs in atractive designs similar to Intel ultrabooks.
    With the trend that we are seeing, it would be interesting to see more reviews of low-power APUs.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Do they? The recent refresh used Trinity, and they haven't even started shipping the 14" Trinity model yet. Plus the prices ballooned to over a grand for the cheapest model.

    Is there another refresh coming up?
    Reply
  • dbwells - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    I think the big story here is that AMD is meeting and sometimes besting Intel IVB parts on performance per watt. I cannot remember the last time that happened. Or am I misunderstanding something? If they can scale up Jaguar, they might really have something here. It's kinda like the second coming of Core, while Barcelona and its progeny are the corresponding repeat of NetBurst. Reply
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    My take-away is much the same as yours: AMD is punching it's way back into the game, which now also happens to feature more, (as well as many more moving), targets. (The "moving ≈ mobile ≈ more rapidly paced product cycle" pun is intended, though as I've advised my kids, if you have to explain it, well then it's just not funny!)

    I'm a relative late comer to the ranks of tech obsessed / tech aficionados. Since my arrival, maybe 4-5 years ago, Intel has always been the widely dominant force, though I always enjoy rooting for an underdog; in this case AMD.

    My desire to root for AMD has increased significantly within the last couple of months, due in large part to several Anand-authored profiles on new arrivals, or employees returning, to AMD. This rationale for wishing AMD well was further solidified by a brief history of AMD, written by Andrew Cunningham & posted in Ars Technica at the following link:

    http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/04/amd-on-rop...

    Lacking extensive personal knowledge with which to gauge or critique the article, it at least gave me a greater sense of the significant role occupied by AMD & their summary impact within the industry. With some much valued platform infrastructure still in place, the recent influx of quite formidable talent & experience is, I think, cause for at least guarded optimism over AMD's fortunes.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    The scale up is easier said than done, scaling down is much easier. Jaguar can only clock to 2GHz due to the architecture, they'd have to significantly change it to scale that up, and once they do the IPC may suffer. Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Your right, if they could just double the performance per core, doubling everything, they could have a great mobile cpu for everything. they sure have an exess of tdp to use.
    I always wonder how hard it would be to do that, but im sure it´s easier to say then do.
    Reply
  • takeship - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Any chance Anand that you could swap some performance memory in for that single stick, say something with 8-8-8 24 or 9-9-9 27 timings, and see if we get any graphical boost out of ti? Reply
  • woofersus - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    I wonder if we could see one of these in a lower priced x86 Surface, given the market's clear preference for the full version of Windows and the high price of the original Surface Pro. Seems like a Kabini chip could make for a nice intermediary. Reply

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