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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  • kyuu - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    A Surface tablet running off Kabini -- with the consequence of much better battery life and a lower price -- would be great. I hope Microsoft is looking at Kabini/Temash for the v2 Surfaces. Reply
  • FwFred - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    I hope they are, though I expect Bay Trail to have better performance, thermals, and battery life in a fanless tablet form factor. May the best SoC win! Reply
  • vision33r - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Since when do we need high performance CPUs for Facebook, Reddit, and Porn. Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    since flash :p Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Just as a related comment: I tried several FB Flash games on Kabini and Core i7 ULV. (I know: i7 ULV is a bit much, but it's all I have right now in the ULV segment.) Bejeweled Blitz averages around 24FPS on Kabini, with dips into the low teens at times; on i7 ULV it's pretty much locked in at 30FPS. Zuma Blitz ups the maximum frame rate to 60, and i7 once again hits that pretty much constantly; on Kabini, it's usually above 30 but not always at 60, but at least it's playable. The last game I tried is Solitaire Blitz, and it also tops out at 60FPS; i7 comes close (usually in the 50s), Kabini is lower, like in the 30s. I didn't really have a good way to do apples-to-apples frame rate comparisons, so take these initial numbers with a margin of error. Kabini is definitely better than Brazos and Atom here, but it's not going to handle all the "light" Flash games. And for that matter, ULV Celeron and Pentium are likely in the same boat, but I can't say for certain as I lack the hardware to verify this. Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    If you look at the Tom's Hardware review, it's pretty apparent that the 15W TDP is *very* conservative. Compared to a 17W ULV Ivy Bridge, the 15W Kabini uses significantly less power.

    100% agree with your conclusion though -- we need an enlightened OEM to use this silicon to build a low cost but good quality ultraportable/thin+light/whatever design. That's the sort of thing I've been waiting to jump on but the OEMs just haven't delivered anything.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Enlightened and OEM do not mix together. (Apart from apple, maybe).
    I am very sure that cheaper silicon=cheaper notebook. OEM's arent going to improve the quality of the chassis and display.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    I agree that "enlightened OEM" is, unfortunately, something of an oxymoron. There's always the hope that we'll get surprised, though. Hopefully the downturn in PC sales will make OEMs consider different designs, as it becomes plain that their previous ethos are not going to work anymore. Reply
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    I'm very interested to see what would (will?) be done with these AMD APU series in the hands of Vizio, as I very much like the stylistic directions they have taken. By most accounts I believe their initial product launch, (while not exactly awe inspiring), was generally considered to be a reasonably sound first effort, and a well executed one. Reviews I've read suggest that Vizio is indeed serious and directed in their approach toward product improvement in successive iterations.

    Operating at a much smaller scale than the Big Boys and Girls in the consumer space, in theory Vizio should be more nimble and capable of quicker product deployment to market. This assumes of course, that they have the necessary technical personnel and funding available, and that both their supply and manufacturing resource chains are solid. In light of resource requirements and flagging PC sales, I have to wonder if the favor they've generated with MicroSoft (eg. products sans bloatware, etc.) might pay some dividends.

    Given their strengths in design, displays, and the degree to which Vizio employs word of mouth to generate buzz, one or two very solid thin & light notebooks built on an AMD platform (to say nothing of a tablet or two) might provide significant product and brand differentiation, and could really help to build upon a reputation for quality and for responsiveness to market inputs.

    With any luck, before too long we'll be reading in AT of something(s) Vizio that is(are) the absolute Bees Knees!
    Reply
  • Gaugamela - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    Asus already has a great chassis for these APUs. The Asus x202e. If they used a Kabini APU in this chassis they could offer it at an even lower price point. Reply

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