Final Words

Despite no significant changes to the architecture or manufacturing process, AMD’s 2014 updates to its entry level and low power silicon are substantial. We finally have AMD silicon, built around a non-Bulldozer architecture, that seem to have turbo capabilities comparable to Intel’s. The result is a completely different performance profile. While AMD’s Jaguar cores in Kabini and Temash were easily outperformed by Intel’s Bay Trail, Puma+ pulls ahead. AMD continues to hold a substantial GPU performance advantage as well.

The gains in performance come while decreasing platform power. You can now have roughly the same performance as AMD offered last year in a 15W entry level notebook part, in a 4.5W TDP (2.8W SDP) tablet SKU. That’s seriously impressive.

The progress AMD made in a year with Beema and Mullins shows just how time constrained the team(s) were with bringing Kabini and Temash to market in 2013. While both of those SoCs were quite successful for AMD, I expect that at some point AMD won’t be allowed two years to fully polish a single design.

The big unknown is how these new SoCs stack up against Bay Trail when it comes to power consumption. From a performance standpoint at the very high end they are faster, but we’ll have to wait until we can get our hands on shipping devices before we know the full story when it comes to battery life. AMD expects to see Beema and Mullins designs show up over the next 1 - 2 quarters, with some designs shipping in the coming weeks to specific regions.

The other thing we need to see is a real Android strategy from AMD. Mullins seems like a good fit for a high performance Android tablet, but today AMD’s native OS strategy is exclusively Windows. I don’t think it’ll stay that way for long, but AMD has yet to give us any indication of when it’ll change.

And if I’m asking for things I want to see from AMD, you can add a PoP package and idle power that’s competitive with the likes of Apple and Qualcomm. AMD clearly came a long way over the past couple of years, but there’s still more progress to be made.

The Discovery Tablet & Performance
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  • name99 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    "I’d expect a similar die size to Kabini/Temash. It’s interesting to note that these SoCs have a transistor count somewhere south of Apple’s A7."

    Isn't this something of an apple's to oranges comparison?

    This AMD SOC is basically CPU+GPU+memory controller.

    A7 is all that plus secure storage, ISP, h264 encoder/decoder (the genuine low power deal, not some "hardware assisted" frankenstein that runs the CPU and GPU [together, both at high power] to do the job) along with god knows what else --- flash controller? fingerprint recognition cell?
  • mczak - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Kabini / Temash also full custom hw video encode/decode (all gcn based chips do), though if you want some hybrid mode is still available, so that should be pretty comparable. Flash controller and the like, too. Yes no ISP, but OTOH there's quite a lot of stuff the A7 won't do too (like 2xsata, the 4x1 and 1x4 pcie 2.0 connectivity, 2xUSB 3.0, high-speed i/o isn't exactly cheap). Anyway, the transistor count and die size is comparable after all (based on the official numbers, Kabini is slightly larger, but the a7 has slightly more transistors, though there's both different methods to count transistors and measure die size, not to mention they come out of different fabs), and it shouldn't be a surprise.
  • lmcd - Friday, May 2, 2014 - link

    AMD should try partnering with Broadcom (as Broadcom has no real SoCs for smartphones).
  • 200380051 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    I am eager to see how Mantle-enabled games will perform on these Mullins tablets. It seems a good fit from a technical standpoint. It might just push the PC gaming sphere to dig into tablet space. This in turn directly expands the market of game studios.

    Also, I wonder if AMD's mobile lineup is to be the first product they'll roll out on Samsung's 14nm FINFET process. The process will be available starting 2015, as per their agreement. Its up to AMD to cook us a shrinked revision of these chips in a timely fashion.

    Things are getting interesting.
  • MartinT - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    It seems to me that performance numbers for these parts don't tell even half the story without the accompanying power readings, considering the 'use whatever power until the chassis burns the user' approach of AMD's turbo implementation.
  • kirilmatt - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    How AMD did this is amazing. Imagine if this was released instead of kabini/temash. This destroys Bay Trail. I only hope that it gets released soon so it doesn't have to compete with Intel's 14nm SoCs. Anyways, good job AMD!
  • R3MF - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Ubuntu tablet please...
  • purerice - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Would one way to test the "non-turbo" performance be to loop some test 100 times and see the performance decrease over time? Considering the turbo would decrease as the CPU/APU heats up we could see the performance difference and also how long you really get "turbo" turned on for.
  • azazel1024 - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    I am impressed, but I am curious as to both why Bay Trail beats it in the PCMark testing by a fair margin, but not in individual CPU benchmarks. If that is thermal limits...well, I will say that a lot of tablet workloads are very short term. Windows tablet workloads (at least mine)...not so much.

    Enough of what I do would likely hit those thermal constraints and at least in my testing, my T100 doesn't clock down even under very prolonged workloads, like 15+ minutes of converting RAW to JPEG images. Or long gaming, like an hour or two of KSP.

    That and I have concerns about that idle and low power use. Seems to be pretty good under higher load and performance seems to be there (with caveat/concern)...but idle and low power could be an issue. According to those AMD specs, the APU itself is using darn near 2w of power streaming 1080p. Based on my math, my T100 TOTAL uses around 2.4w of power when streaming 1080p (around 13hrs of run time, 31whr battery). I assume that the display, wifi, signal processor, memory, etc, etc are consuming more than .6w of power.

    Having a much bigger battery or much shorter run time could be a big sticking point for a lot of tablet users (I know I'd have an issue if my 6-7hrs gaming/10hrs normal use/13hrs video turned in to more like 3hrs gaming/6hrs normal use/8hrs video.
  • FITCamaro - Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - link

    My next tablet will likely be a Windows 8.1 tablet. I'd love the high end AMD CPU tested here even if it doesn't do as well on power as Baytrail but bests it in GPU performance. Would be nice to be able to do better light mobile gaming.

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