AMD details Elite Mobility and mainstream APUs, we run early benchmarks handson

AMD has been willing to tease its 2013 ultra-mobile APU (accelerated processing unit) strategy through PCs like the Acer Aspire V5, but today it's spilling the beans in earnest. The headliner for many is the company's just-shipping Elite Mobility line, or Temash: the A4 and A6 designs are built for tablets, like Hondo was, but their Jaguar-based system-on-chip designs should be faster in both CPU and graphics power without a hit to battery life. AMD estimates that the Radeon HD 8280G video core in an Elite Mobility A6 is about five times faster a Clover Trail-based Atom and twice as fast as Hondo, but lasts about 45 percent longer on battery than an Intel Core i3. And that's while untethered -- that Turbo Dock feature is still in place to boost speeds by over 30 percent when a dock is around for extra cooling.

The E1, E2, A4 and A6 mainstream APUs based on Kabini, meanwhile, are all about tackling the Pentium and Core i3 chips that go into entry-level laptops. AMD reckons that the dual-core (E-series) and quad-core (A-series) parts are up to 88 percent faster overall than their ancestors, and can even punch above their weight class: the E1's Radeon HD 8000-level graphics are up to 66 percent faster than those of a much thirstier, Trinity-era A4 chip. Battery life is a specialty as well, with up to 10 hours when idle and 9 hours of web use. That's typically 2 to 3 hours more than Kabini's Brazos ancestor could manage. AMD wasn't specific on when these mainstream APUs would first ship when we were briefed, but we had the opportunity to benchmark an A4-based reference laptop. Read on past the break for the scores and some early impressions.

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AMD Kabini reference laptop

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AMD Kabini and Temash presentations

If you're looking for any cues as to how a production, Kabini-based laptop should look, you won't find them here. AMD's system is clearly generic, and meant to be just enough to show the potential of the hardware inside. In this case, that means a quad-core, 1.5GHz A4-5000 whose built-in graphics unit identifies itself as a Radeon HD 8330. There's also 4GB of RAM, a 320GB (albeit just 5,400RPM) hard drive and the PC's one luxury, a 1080p non-touch display.

The numbers are a blend of lows and highs. In the mostly CPU-heavy PCMark7 test, our Kabini A4 wasn't any faster than most devices with a dual-core, Clover Trail-based Atom inside -- a bit underwhelming for a processor that's supposed to compete with Pentiums. (Correction: We tested an HDD-based Kabini. When run with an SSD, as tested by Anandtech, the A4's PCMark7 score handily beats a flash-based CloverTrail system like the ThinkPad Tablet 2).

It's in the graphics where AMD finds its sweet spot. The Radeon HD 8330 won't pose a threat to a Core i3 in more CPU-dependent 3DMark tests, but it's miles above the Atom. It even compares well against a system based on last year's Trinity-era A6, a more demanding chip with an edge in raw CPU power. Our unit could get about 5.5 hours of web use on a battery charge, but there's a good chance that shipping PCs will vary sharply.

PCMark7 3DMark06 3DMark11
AMD Kabini reference laptop (1.5GHz A4-5000, Radeon HD 8330) 1,426 3,356

E945 / P585 / X144

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (1.8GHz Atom Z2760, Intel HD) 1,425 460 N/A
HP Envy Sleekbook 6z (2.1GHz A6-4455M, Radeon HD 7500G) N/A 3,625

N/A

Intel NUC (1.8GHz Core i3-3217U, Intel HD 4000) 3,625 4,855 E1153 / P627

AMD may simply have an edge in what will run, rather than how well it runs. While the HD 4000 from Intel's higher-end 2012 processors (and HD 5000 in 2013) can handle DirectX 11 graphics, that's not true of the Pentiums that AMD is targeting with the A4. A DirectX 11-aware game like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon will run with DirectX 11 effects turned on, albeit at speeds around 30 frames per second or below when using low detail levels. We cranked Blood Dragon to the maximum Ultra detail setting for kicks, and it kept running... if at single-digit frame rates.

Really, Kabini isn't meant to defy logic and provide a world-beating gaming PC on the cheap. It's an upgrade to low-end processors that gives a meaningful kick in the pants to graphics when it's necessary, whether it's for casual gaming or playing 1080p video. And it does that well -- the leap in video speed is enough that some shoppers could spend less on their laptop than they would otherwise. That's assuming the price is right, of course. We understand PCs based on the Kabini-based mainstream APUs should be cheap, but AMD didn't give an estimated price range.

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AMD Amplifies Mobile Experience with Responsive Performance, Rich Graphics, Elite Software and Long Battery Life

2013 Mobile APU line-up meets user needs across a wide range of new and traditional PC form factors at an ideal balance of price-to-performance

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -5/23/2013

AMD (NYSE: AMD) today launched three new additions to its 2013 A-Series and E-Series Mobile Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) lineup – delivering solutions ideally positioned to address today's evolving PC market with dramatically increased performance and power efficiency, as well as a portfolio of unique user experiences, and superior gaming and graphics:

* The 2013 AMD Elite Mobility APU (formerly codenamed "Temash") - the world's first 28nm, quad-core x86 system-on-a-chip (SoC) APU designed for touch small form-factor notebooks, tablets, and hybrids 13-inches and below;
* The 2013 AMD Mainstream APU (formerly codenamed "Kabini") - the first and only quad-core x86 SoC solution for entry-level and small-form factor touch notebooks;
* New, low power versions of the 2013 AMD Elite Performance APU (formerly codenamed "Richland") - offer the best graphics and compute in a performance APU for premium ultrathin notebooks.
These new APUs are designed to effectively balance the needs of a wide range of new and traditional mobile PC users and are available beginning today from the world's top computer manufacturers, including products announced today from Acer and HP.

"The client market has evolved – with greater diversity in the types of mobile form factors and higher performance demands from the software – and AMD is uniquely positioned to deliver the best processors to meet the needs of mobile device users today," said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager, Global Business Units at AMD. "As computing becomes more visual and the graphics processor can be leveraged to do other types of processing, our dedication to the software community and the APU architecture sets us apart from the competition and enables us to deliver the best user experience whether on a tablet, a hybrid device or a notebook."

2013 AMD Mobile APU Platform Details

2013 AMD Elite Mobility APU

* World's first 28nm, quad-core x86 SoC APU, delivers the best graphics experience of any SoC on the planet for touch small form-factor notebooks, tablets and hybrids, 13-inches and below, enabling a superior HD media experience and high-end gaming.
* Available as AMD A-Series APUs, this new platform comes in dual (A4) and quad-core (A6) configurations, combining "Jaguar" x86 Central Processing Unit (CPU) cores with Graphics Core * Next AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Series graphics.
* Up to 172 percent more CPU performance per watt and up to 212 percent better graphics performance per watt than its predecessor, and up to 12 hours of resting battery life.
* Up to 45 percent longer battery life and nearly five times more GPU performance than the competition.
* Full support for 1080p touch display capability and full Microsoft Windows compatibility, including support for "Windows Blue."

2013 AMD Mainstream APU

* Best-in-class graphics and first-in-class x86 quad core SoC delivers the ideal balance between function and affordability for entry-level and small-form factor touch notebooks.
* Combine either two or four "Jaguar" x86 CPU cores with Graphics Core Next AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series graphics, enabling stunning visual performance and all-day battery life.
* Quad core 2013 Mainstream APUs, a part of the 2013 AMD A-Series APU family (A4 and A6 models), are the first and only quad-core x86 solution for entry-level and small-form factor touch notebooks.
* Dual core versions are AMD E-Series APUs, with E1 and E2 models available.
* Up to 132 percent better visual performance per watt and up to 127 percent better productivity performance per watt, plus up to 25 percent better power efficiency than previous generations, with up to 11 hours of idle battery life.
* Up to 88 percent better graphics performance, up to 33 percent better gaming performance and up to 29 percent faster file compression than the competition.

2013 AMD Elite Performance APU

* Top-of-the-line AMD A-Series APUs with A8 and A10 models that deliver the best graphics and compute in a performance APU, including elite performance and battery life, innovative features for the evolved PC user experience, and the most entertainment, all at a great value for premium ultrathin notebooks.
* Up to 12 percent better productivity performance and between 20-40 percent better visual performance than the previous generation, including up to 51 percent more power efficiency in HD video playback and up to 13 hours of resting battery life.
* Between 39-72 percent better gaming performance on today's leading games than the competition.

2013 AMD Mobile APU User Experiences

All AMD APUs are designed to deliver the best user experience for the computing activities that matter most to consumer today. AMD is uniquely positioned to do this due to its breadth of experience that spans not only the traditional x86 compute architecture that's best suited for productivity-focused tasks like word processing and spread sheets, but also graphics processing for today's new user interfaces, and media- and graphics-intensive workloads. And the three new AMD APUs announced today offer a multitude of features related to looking at, and interacting with, mobile devices in a new way.

* AMD Elite Experiences Software – Leverage the power of the combined compute and graphics cores in AMD Elite APU Platforms to accelerate a suite of available software experiences that can dramatically expand and enhance the user experience:

- AMD Gesture Control - Control basic functions using hand gestures;
- AMD Face Login - Quickly log in to Windows and other browser-based sites;
- AMD Screen Mirror - Wirelessly share content with any supported TV or display.

* AMD Radeon™ Graphics with DirectX® 11.1 support - Enjoy discrete-level performance for crisp & sharp photos, movies and games.
* AMD Dock Port - Use up to four external monitors and sync to other devices through a single connection.
* AMD AllDay™ Power - Stay unplugged with long battery life.
* AMD Start Now technology - Boot up or resume from hibernate in seconds.