Home » notebooks » AMD’s Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and Graphics Core Next (GCN) is coming to notebooks

AMD’s Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and Graphics Core Next (GCN) is coming to notebooks

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Why AMDers are excited about “Kaveri” [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 15, 2014]

Hear from the team behind “Kaveri” why they are excited about it and how it will affect the pc market.http://www.amd.com/nextgenapu

The GCN architecture that is behind Xbox One and Sony PS4 (among others) and the HSA (quite probably available as well in Xbox One and PS4) are coming now to notebook APUs.
OR how much could AMD reap the benefits (first time) of ATI acquisition in 2006?
OR how much the 28nm SHP (Super High Performance) process from Global Foundries will help AMD to compete?
OR will the next-gen Steamroller microarchitecture be sufficient to compete?

How “Kaveri” is Going to Change the World of Compute Capabilities [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 16, 2014]

AMD’s John Byrne, Chief Sales Officer sat down with us “Kaveri” Tech Day in Las Vegas to discuss why he is excited about “Kaveri” and the effect is it going to have on the computer market. Learn more: http://www.amd.com/nextgenapu

If it can game, imagine what else it can do. [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 6, 2014]

See what else the AMD APU can do at amd.com/ifitcangame AMD APUs are found in everything from the leading game consoles to PCs. AMD has brought it all together to bring you incredible, new experiences. Our AMD A-Series APUs combine the performance of multicore processors and the power of AMD RadeonTM graphics technology on a single chip for a whole new level of immersion and interactivity with your PC. Whether gaming, watching videos or multitasking on your PC, we give you the performance you need to fit your life.

The Four Technologies that make up AMD’s Kaveri APU [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 14, 2014]

AMD’s Joe Macri, Corporate VP, Product CTO of Global Business Units sat down with us Kaveri Tech Day in Las Vegas to highlight the four technologies that make up Kaveri.

In AMD Kaveri Review: A8-7600 and A10-7850K Tested [AnandTech, Jan 14, 2014] it was touted as:

The first major component launch of 2014 falls at the feet of AMD and the next iteration of its APU platform, Kaveri. Kaveri has been the aim for AMD for several years, it’s actually the whole reason the company bought ATI back in 2006. As a result many different prongs of AMD’s platform come together: HSA, hUMA, offloading compute, unifying GPU architectures, developing a software ecosystem around HSA and a scalable architecture. This is, on paper at least, a strong indicator of where the PC processor market is heading in the mainstream segment.

My insert: AMD Kaveri APU Tech Day at CES [on Jan 5, 2014] [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 14, 2014]

End of my insert

Final Words
As with all previous AMD APU launches, we’re going to have to break this one down into three parts: CPU, the promise of HSA and GPU.
In a vacuum where all that’s available are other AMD parts, Kaveri and its Steamroller cores actually look pretty good. At identical frequencies there’s a healthy increase in IPC, and AMD has worked very hard to move its Bulldozer family down to a substantially lower TDP. While Trinity/Richland were happy shipping at 100W, Kaveri is clearly optimized for a much more modern TDP. Performance gains at lower TDPs (45/65W) are significant. In nearly all of our GPU tests, a 45W Kaveri ends up delivering very similar gaming performance to a 100W Richland. The mainstream desktop market has clearly moved to smaller form factors and it’s very important that AMD move there as well. Kaveri does just that.
In the broader sense however, Kaveri doesn’t really change the CPU story for AMD. Steamroller comes with a good increase in IPC, but without a corresponding increase in frequency AMD fails to move the single threaded CPU performance needle. To make matters worse, Intel’s dual-core Haswell parts are priced very aggressively and actually match Kaveri’s CPU clocks. With a substantial advantage in IPC and shipping at similar frequencies, a dual-core Core i3 Haswell will deliver much better CPU performance than even the fastest Kaveri at a lower price.
The reality is quite clear by now: AMD isn’t going to solve its CPU performance issues with anything from the Bulldozer family. What we need is a replacement architecture, one that I suspect we’ll get after Excavator concludes the line in 2015.
In the past AMD has argued that for the majority of users, the CPU performance it delivers today is good enough. While true, it’s a dangerous argument to make (one that eventually ends up with you recommending an iPad or Nexus 7). I have to applaud AMD’s PR this time around as no one tried to make the argument that CPU performance was somehow irrelevant. Although we tend to keep PR critique off of AnandTech, the fact of the matter is that for every previous APU launch AMD tried its best to convince the press that the problem wasn’t with its CPU performance but rather with how we benchmark. With Kaveri, the arguments more or less stopped. AMD has accepted its CPU performance is what it is and seems content to ride this one out. It’s a tough position to be in, but it’s really the only course of action until Bulldozer goes away.
It’s a shame that the CPU story is what it is, because Kaveri finally delivers on the promise of the ATI acquisition from 2006. AMD has finally put forth a truly integrated APU/SoC, treating both CPU and GPU as first class citizens and allowing developers to harness both processors, cooperatively, to work on solving difficult problems and enabling new experiences. In tests where both the CPU and GPU are used, Kaveri looks great as this is exactly the promise of HSA. The clock starts now. It’ll still be a matter of years before we see widespread adoption of heterogeneous programming and software, but we finally have the necessary hardware and priced at below $200.

image

Until then, outside of specific applications and GPU compute workloads, the killer app for Kaveri remains gaming. Here the story really isn’t very different than it was with Trinity and Richland. With Haswell Intel went soft on (socketed) desktop graphics, and Kaveri continues to prey on that weakness. If you are building an entry level desktop PC where gaming is a focus, there really isn’t a better option. I do wonder how AMD will address memory bandwidth requirements going forward. A dual-channel DDR3 memory interface works surprisingly well for Kaveri. We still see 10 – 30% GPU performance increases over Richland despite not having any increase in memory bandwidth. It’s clear that AMD will have to look at something more exotic going forward though.

My insert: Kaveri Tech Day: Thief running on a 7850K APU with Dual Graphics [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 14, 2014]

Learn more at http://www.amd.com/nextgenapu At Kaveri Tech Day in Las Vegas we showed off a ton of awesome demos including the upcoming Eidos Montreal title Thief. Check it out running on dual graphics!

End of my insert

For casual gaming, AMD is hitting the nail square on the head in its quest for 1080p gaming at 30 frames per second, albeit generally at lower quality settings. There are still a few titles that are starting to stretch the legs of a decent APU (Company of Heroes is practically brutal), but it all comes down to perspective. Let me introduce you to my Granddad. He’s an ex-aerospace engineer, and likes fiddling with stuff. He got onboard the ‘build-your-own’ PC train in about 2002 and stopped there – show him a processor more than a Pentium 4 and he’ll shrug it off as something new-fangled. My grandfather has one amazing geeky quality that shines through though – he has played and completed every Tomb Raider game on the PC he can get his hands on.
It all came to a head this holiday season when he was playing the latest Tomb Raider game. He was running the game on a Pentium D with an NVIDIA 7200GT graphics card. His reactions are not the sharpest, and he did not seem to mind running at sub-5 FPS at a 640×480 resolution. I can imagine many of our readers recoiling at the thought of playing a modern game at 480p with 5 FPS. In the true spirit of the season, I sent him a HD 6750, an identical model to the one in the review today. Despite some issues he had finding drivers (his Google-fu needs a refresher), he loves his new card and can now play reasonably well at 1280×1024 on his old monitor.
The point I am making with this heart-warming/wrenching family story is that the Kaveri APU is probably the ideal fit for what he needs. Strap him up with an A8-7600 and away he goes. It will be faster than anything he has used before, it will play his games as well as that new HD 6750, and when my grandmother wants to surf the web or edit some older images, she will not have to wait around for them to happen. It should all come in with a budget they would like as well.

The Importance of AMD’s TrueAudio Technology in Thief [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 10, 2014]

Eidos Montreal joined us onsite at CES to demo their upcoming game title Thief. Hear from Jean-Normand Bucci, Technical Art Director, Square Enix on the importance of audio in games and how AMD’s TrueAudio is making a difference.

Johan Andersson explains how Mantle [API] will leverage AMD’s new “Kaveri” APU [AMD YouTube channel, Dec 3, 2013]

At APU13 DICE/EA’s Technical Director Johan Andersson explains how Mantle is bringing the level of performance experienced on next generation consoles to AMD powered PCs. With the extra performance on Frostbite, there’s bound to be things never seen before in gaming!

In AMD Surrounds 2014 International CES Visitors with Breakthrough Visual and Audio Experiences [press release, Jan 6, 2014] it was touted as:

“Kaveri” – AMD’s most powerful APUs ever, the AMD A10 7850K and 7700K (codenamed “Kaveri”), are now shipping and will be on shelves in desktops early next week, with pre-orders starting today from select system builders. “Kaveri” is the world’s first APU to include Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features, the immersive sound of AMD TrueAudio Technology and the performance gaming experiences of Mantle API. “Kaveri”-based notebooks will be available in the first half of this year.

“Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra”

Bringing AMD’s Surround Computing vision to life in an overwhelming and unique way, “Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra” engages show-goers in an instrumental performance by a collection of misfit monsters performing in a 360-degree domed theater. This immersive experience uses many of AMD’s current and developing technologies including gesture control optimized by HSA features on the new “Kaveri” APU, next-generation AMD FirePro™ graphics driving 14 million pixels across six projectors, and 32.4 channels of audio processed with AMD TrueAudio technology and presented with Discrete Digital Multipoint Audio.

Building of AMD Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra at CES 2014 [AMD YouTube channel, Jan 6, 2014]

Time lapse video of the construction of AMD Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra dome as part of AMD’s booth at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Oxide Games AMD Mantle Presentation and Demo [AMD YouTube channel, Dec 17, 2013]

At APU13 Oxide Games showed off the first live demo of AMD’s Mantle API. Watch their full presentation and see the results for yourself. Learn more: http://bit.ly/AMD_Mantle

Now it is said by them that AMD Revolutionizes Compute and UltraHD Entertainment with 2014 AMD A-Series Accelerated Processors [press release, Jan 14, 2014]

Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features enable groundbreaking compute performance and define next-gen application acceleration
SUNNYVALE, Calif. —1/14/2014

AMD (NYSE: AMD) today launched the 2014 AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs), the most advanced and developer friendly performance APUs from AMD to date. The AMD A-Series APUs with AMD Radeon™ R7 graphics, codenamed “Kaveri”, are designed with industry-changing new features that deliver superior compute and heart-pounding gaming performance.

New and improved features of the AMD A-Series APUs include: 

  • Up to 12 Compute Cores (4 CPU and 8 GPU) unlocking full APU potential1
  • Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features, a new intelligent computing architecture that enables the CPU and GPU to work in harmony by seamlessly streamlining right tasks to the most suitable processing element, resulting in performance and efficiency for both consumers and developers; 
  • Award-winning Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture with powerful AMD Radeon™ R7 Series graphics for performance that commands respect and with support for DirectX 11.22
  • AMD’s acclaimed Mantle, an API that simplifies game optimizations for programmers and developers to raise gaming performance to unprecedented levels when unlocked3
  • AMD TrueAudio Technology, 32-channel surround audio delivering the best in audio realism and immersion4
  • Support for UltraHD (4K) resolutions and new video post processing enhancements that will make 1080p videos look even better when upscaled on UltraHD-enabled monitor or TV5;  
  • FM2+ socket compatibility for a unifying infrastructure that works with APUs and CPUs.

“AMD maintains our technology leadership with the 2014 AMD A-Series APUs, a revolutionary next generation APU that marks a new era of computing,” said Bernd Lienhard, corporate vice president and general manager, Client Business Unit, AMD. “With world-class graphics and compute technology on a single chip, the AMD A-Series APU is an effective and efficient solution for our customers and enable industry-leading computing experiences.”

The A10-7850K and A10-7700K APUs will be bundled with EA’s Battlefield 4, to bring a first-in-class APU gaming experience6.

Product Specifications

Model
AMD A10-7850K with Radeon™ R7 Graphics
AMD A10-7700K with Radeon™ R7 Graphics
AMD A8-7600 with Radeon™ R7 Graphics
Price7
$173 USD 
$152 USD 
$119 USD 
Power 
95W
95W
65W/45W
Compute Cores
12
10
10
CPU Cores 
4
4
4
GPU Cores1
8
6
6
Max Turbo Core 
4.0GHz
3.8GHz
3.8/3.3GHz
Default CPU Frequency 
3.7GHz
3.4GHz
3.3/3.1GHz
GPU Frequency 
720MHz
720MHz
720MHz
L2 Cache 
4MB
4MB
4MB

The AMD A-Series APU processor-in-a-box (PIBs) for the AMD A10-7850K and AMD A10-7700K, which started shipping in Q4 2013, are available starting today. The AMD A8-7600 will be shipping in Q1 2014. Additionally, the AMD Radeon™ R9 2400 Gamer Series memory is tested and certified for AMD A10 APUs, unleashing their full potential with AMD Memory Profile technology (AMP) offering speeds up to 2400MHz. For more information, please visit the Radeon Memory product page.  

The AMD A-Series APUs are also available today in PCs from our partner system builders. For more information, please visit our product information page.

Supporting Resources

  1. AMD defines a “Radeon Core” as one Shader/Shader Array. The term “GPU Core” is an evolution of the term “Radeon Core”. “GPU Core” is defined as having 4 SIMDS each comprising of 64 Shaders/Shader Arrays. For example, 512 “Radeon Cores” equals 8 “GPU Cores“ (8 GPU Cores x 4 SIMDs x 16 Shader Arrays = 512 Radeon Cores). Visit www.amd.com/computecores for more information.
  2. The GCN Architecture and its associated features (AMD Enduro™, AMD ZeroCore Power technology, DDM Audio, and 28nm production) are exclusive to the AMD Radeon™ HD 7700M, HD 7800M and HD 7900M Series Graphics and select AMD A-Series APUs. Not all technologies are supported in all system configurations—check with your system manufacturer for specific model capabilities.
  3. Mantle application support is required.
  4. AMD TrueAudio technology is offered by select AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 200 Series GPUs and select AMD A-Series APUs and is designed to improve acoustic realism.  Requires enabled game or application.  Not all audio equipment supports all audio effects; additional audio equipment may be required for some audio effects. Not all products feature all technologies—check with your component or system manufacturer for specific capabilities.
  5. Requires 4K display and content. Supported resolution varies by GPU model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase.
  6. Battlefield 4 is valued at MSRP $59.99 USD. Bundle offered while supplies last. For more information, please visit: www.amd.com/battlefield4offer.
  7. SEP [suggested e-tail pricing] as of January 14, 2014.

See also:
AMD Kaveri Review: A8-7600 and A10-7850K Tested [AnandTech, Jan 14, 2014]
Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra [AMD ‘Innovations We Pioneer’, Jan 8, 2014]
AMD Announces New Unified SDK, Tools and Accelerated Libraries for Heterogeneous Computing Developers [press release, Nov 11, 2013]

APU13 serves as launch platform for new developer tools and sheds light on upcoming third generation APU, “Kaveri”

… AMD also announced today at APU13 details about “Kaveri,” the third generation performance APU from AMD, during a keynote delivered by Dr. Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager, Global Business Units, AMD.

“Kaveri” is the first APU with HSA features, AMD TrueAudio technology and AMD’s Mantle API combining to bring the next level of graphics, compute and efficiency to desktops (FM2+), notebooks, embedded APUs and servers.  FM2+ shipments to customers are slated to begin in late 2013 with initial availability in customer desktop offerings scheduled for Jan. 14, 2014. Further details will be announced at CES 2014. …

AMD Unveils Innovative New APUs and SoCs that Give Consumers a More Exciting and Immersive Experience [press release, Jan 7, 2013]

… AMD also introduced the new APU codenamed “Richland” which is currently shipping to OEMs and delivers visual performance increases ranging from more than 20 percent to up to 40 percent over the previous generation of AMD A-Series APUs1. “Richland” is expected to come bundled with new software for consumers such as gesture- and facial-recognition to dramatically expand and enhance consumers’ user experiences. The follow-on to “Richland” will be the 28nm APU codenamed “Kaveri” with revolutionary heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) features which is expected to begin shipping to customers in the second half of 2013. …

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