AMD Kaveri APU Architecture Overview


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So there you have it. Kaveri is the next step in AMD’s HSA revolution and it is so “exciting” for AMD’s engineers because it represents the culmination of their efforts in heterogeneous compute over the last eight years. To be completely honest, Kaveri represents a new generation of computing, where GPU and CPU cores work simultaneously and nearly indistinguishably from one another. They each still have their strong suits, but the ability to harness the IOPS producing power of the GCN-based GPU cores without specifically programming for their use makes things much easier on developers while still allowing that performance boost.


It is interesting, also, that Kaveri and HSA have started benefiting AMD in areas that were previously not even thought of. The increased IOPS available through Kaveri’s GPU cores has an astounding effect on the mining of cryptocurrencies. Integer operations are key to quickly being able to unravel the cryptographic puzzles hiding wealth in the form of bitcoins, litecoins, or other cryptocurrencies. I think AMD was just as surprised as anyone to find that Kaveri (and any GCN-based GPU) is extraordinarily adept at this.

Kaveri doesn’t just bring performance increases, however. AMD was also able to better optimize for power consumption with the new APUs. In fact, although the high-end Kaveri APUs come with a 95W TDP, you can downclock that to 65W or even 45W if you want to. You’ll lose some of the processing power by having to downclock your cores, but if you are interested in saving power, it is possible here. The same Kaveri cores used in the A10-7850K can be clocked accordingly and utilized in lower power-consuming products with TDPs all the way down to just 15W. In previous iterations, we’d be looking at a completely different architecture to operate at the low-power end of the spectrum.

When developing Kaveri, AMD looked to accomplish five things; application acceleration, hi-res gaming, ultra-HD resolutions, new user experiences, and smaller form factors. If all that I saw during the Kaveri Tech Day press conference was true, they have accomplished all of those goals, making Kaveri a truly revolutionary platform.

Unfortunately, because I ran out early to attend a wedding, I didn’t get my hands on Kaveri until the day before launch. As I type I am vigorously testing the A10-7850K against the i5-4670, Richland, and a host of other hardware configurations to either prove or disprove the claims I heard. Stay tuned to find out whether or not Kaveri lives up to the hype.


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