New details, early benchmark data revealed for 15W Kabini APU

Earlier this week at CES, AMD unveiled its 2013 mobile and desktop processor roadmap. One of the processors up the company's sleeve is Kabini, a 28-nm, quad-core system-on-a-chip with a 15W thermal envelope. Kabini should start to pop up in ultrathin notebooks by the middle of this year.

Our Editor in Chief met with AMD at the show yesterday, and he was able to glean more details about the new APU—including some early performance data. A notebook running a Kabini prototype apparently scored 1019 in Musemage, an OpenCL-accelerated photo-editing application. For reference, I just got a 1770 score from an Asus UX31A ultrabook featuring Intel's Core i5-3317U processor. Geoff obtained a 1243 score from the Core i3-3217U-powered Asus VivoBook X202E ultraportable (whose processor is admittedly hobbled by single-channel DDR3-1333 memory).

Now, Kabini will likely compete against cheaper—and lower-power—processors than the i3-3217U and i5-3317U. Kabini's 15W TDP applies to the whole system-on-a-chip, including the integrated I/O, while Intel's 17W Ivy Bridge processors require a separate platform hub. The HM67 Express PCH in our ultrabook has a 4.1W TDP, according to Intel's website, so the Intel solutions' total power requirements add up to 21.1W or so.

Kabini will also have a lower power envelope than E-series Brazos APUs, which are rated for 18W and require a 3W south bridge chip. AMD has implemented more aggressive power gating in Kabini, too, further reducing its power requirements. In all, the newcomer is supposed to offer a "significant" battery life advantage over 18W Brazos variants, all the while boosting both CPU and graphics performance by 50%. (AMD mentioned that we can expect a "nice uplift" in per-core performance.)

For what it's worth, AMD expects Kabini to carry A6-, A4-, and E2-series branding, straddling ground currently occupied by entry-level Trinity APUs and high-end Brazos chips.

Temash, the sub-5W system-on-a-chip AMD showed in its roadmap earlier this week, appears to be based on the same silicon as Kabini—although it might use different process technology optimizations to achieve its lower power envelope. AMD plans to offer Temash in both sub-5W and 8-9W variants.

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