Yep, the Kabini APU is coming to a desktop socket

This may not exactly be shocking news since we spotted a motherboard in the wild at CES, but AMD has officially announced that it’s bringing its low-power, low-cost Kabini APU to the desktop.

In a bit of a novel twist, Kabini desktop motherboards will come with sockets onboard, into which users will be able to drop one of several models of CPU. Both Intel’s Bay Trail Atom SoC and AMD’s own prior-generation Brazos platform processors in this segment have been strictly surface-mounted parts, soldered forever onto their motherboards via BGA packaging.

Kabini silicon has been around for a while now in mobile form, and you may recall from our review that it’s a true x86-compatible system on a chip. Kabini integrates four "Jaguar" CPU cores, Radeon-inspired GCN graphics, a DDR3 memory controller that runs at speeds up to 1600 MT/s, and an entire south bridge I/O complex, so no separate support chip is needed. The I/O section is very much up to date, with SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and a trio of display output types: DisplayPort, HDMI, and ye olde VGA.

AMD is very carefully calling the desktop platform for Kabini the "AM1 platform," although the chips will drop into the same FS1b socket type used in mobile systems. We expect that dubious terminology to get conflated into "Socket AM1" in roughly a nanosecond. Below is a shot of the MSI desktop Kabini motherboard we snapped at CES.

We don’t yet have all of the model numbers and specs yet (or do we?), but the desktop Kabinis will inherit a couple of AMD’s older brand names, Athlon and Sempr0n Sempron, since they’re targeted at decidedly budget-class builds. In fact, the firm expects a motherboard and APU to cost as little as $60 combined. Rumor has it the APUs themselves will have TDP ratings of 25W.

There’s a sample of a retail processor box pictured above. I’m intrigued by how AMD has slowly evolved into using the words "discrete GPU technology" expressly to describe an integrated Radeon. Marketing is weird.

Anyhow, the desktop Kabinis will be positioned opposite Intel’s Bay Trail chips, specifically the quad-core Pentium variants. AMD says its APUs have several points of distinction over the Bay Trail-based competition, including faster memory speeds (1600 MT/s vs. 1333 MT/s), larger memory capacities (up to 16GB), and of course the ability to drop an upgraded chip into the CPU socket.

AMD hasn’t made any promises about future APUs being compatible with Socket FS1b, but we’d bet that Kabini’s successor, Beema, will fit into the same plug.

One other notable advantage for Kabini is broad support for the 64-bit variants of Windows, from XP through 8.1. 64-bit support for Bay Trail has been slow in coming, in part because of a delay in driver development for connected standby. The Kabini platform doesn’t support connected standby at all, so it’s not encumbered by this consideration.

As one might imagine, AMD expects Kabini desktop chips do especially well in emerging markets, where low-cost systems are often a must. As a result, these desktop Athlon and Sempron chips will first become available in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in early April. North America and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region will follow shortly thereafter, on April 9.

We expect a whole host of motherboard makers to introduce boards for desktop Kabini systems, and the vast majority of those are likely to conform to the mini-ITX standard. In fact, both MSI and ASRock have product pages for AM1 mobos online now, and this mATX board from ASRock has me intrigued. We’re hoping to snag a motherboard and APU for a review soon, alongside a comparable Bay Trail setup.

Comments closed
    • Suspenders
    • 6 years ago

    Does anyone know if these will support ECC ram? The MSI and ASRock boards don’t seem to support it.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      Given the target market and seeing as to how AMD seems to be deliberately cutting too many corners here, ECC is most surely out of the question.

        • Suspenders
        • 6 years ago

        Well the GX series embedded kabinis do support ECC ram, so there’s a chance that these will also. But I can’t find concrete info that they do anywhere.

        • shank15217
        • 6 years ago

        It does support ecc, check on CPU world.

    • bwcbiz
    • 6 years ago

    Homebrew NAS, here we come! … err assuming any of the Kabini Mobo’s end up having RAID.

    • phaxmohdem
    • 6 years ago

    Dear AMD, If you’re just looking to get rid of extra Jaguar cores, please put 32 to 64 of them in an AM3+ package, then shut up and take my money. K thanks!

    • anotherengineer
    • 6 years ago

    I wonder if the desktop version will have dual channel memory controller?

    I would be interested to see the IPC of this compared to an old Phenom II, and Kaveri.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      The Kabini that’s available now only includes a single channel DDR3 memory controller. As for performance, It’ll probably compare well to a quad core Athlon 64 running at slightly higher clocks.

    • DarkMikaru
    • 6 years ago

    Now this may be a worthy upgrade to my Asus C60M1-i Server / HTPC setup. I found I need a little more when installing software, surfing the web, virus scanning..etc. Yeah, part of that is the mechanical storage I’m using (all green drives) but I would like a bit more responsiveness overall. This might be the ticket. Hell, I might just move the C60 to another part of the house, run Cat6 to it and dedicate it strictly to file serving duty. Then build a dedicated HTPC using the above setup with stuff I have lying around for the living room. @ less than 150 bucks for me to do so.. I’m in!

    Unless AllCast comes of age and lets us stream anything anywhere of course.

    [url<]https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.koushikdutta.cast[/url<]

    • Sieglinde
    • 6 years ago

    I’m waiting for a kaveri based gaming laptops with affordable prices.
    I don’t want to pay a leg and an arm to buy a gaming laptop anymore.
    Darksouls 2 and PvZ Garden warfare are on the way and my current laptop can’t even run SC2 Hots…

    Please AMD release Kaveri based gaming laptops soon.

    • Deanjo
    • 6 years ago

    Yaaaayawwwwwwwwn

    • fantastic
    • 6 years ago

    Where’s the serial port? 🙂 I want one… with a serial port and a good NIC. 😀

    • MadManOriginal
    • 6 years ago

    The 2.05GHz Kabini is a fairly interesting CPU for a compact low power system. I didn’t bother looking for reviews, but if it provides at least Core 2 Duo equivalent IPC but with quad cores that’s really not bad, and the decent IGP is a nice bonus.

      • ermo
      • 6 years ago

      I would be surprised if these things [i<]do[/i<] provide at least Core 2 Duo equivalent IPC. As far as I can tell, [url=https://techreport.com/review/24856/amd-a4-5000-kabini-apu-reviewed<]Kabini's front-end[/url<] can schedule two integer instructions per clock (vs. [url=http://www.realworldtech.com/merom/3/<]three in C2D[/url<]) and it works at the same frequencies as 65nm C2Ds.

        • Bubster
        • 6 years ago

        Yep. Seems to be short.

        [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/328?vs=71[/url<] Jaguar is about 20-25% faster so will be nearly equivalent.

          • Takeshi7
          • 6 years ago

          I own an AMD E-450 PC with Bobcat cores, and I own a Core 2 quad 65nm 2.66GHz. A Bobcat core can’t come close to a C2 core. Even with a higher clock and improved IPC there’s no way Jaguar can make up the performance gap.

          My AMD definitely has a performance/watt advantage over the C2 though.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 6 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be odd if AMD actually succeeded in the tablet/phone space if Intel give up on it?

    • pyro_
    • 6 years ago

    I would also be interested in seeing this compared to the Avoton platform as well as bay trail. This would be an interesting alternative to the Avoton boards for a small home server and from the looks of things considerably cheaper.

    • joyzbuzz
    • 6 years ago

    A socket does make a PS4 APU variant power/heat doable for a hella cost/performance HTPC/Steam Machine solution.

    AMD’s non-professional market being all about gaming, not seeing why they would not make use of such a golden opportunity.

    • Ruiner
    • 6 years ago

    ECS briefly sold a soldered mitx Kabini a6 5200 but it sold for $175.

    How many levels of madvr will it handle, I wonder?

    • jihadjoe
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]pr0n[/quote<] *sniggles quietly at work*

    • ptsant
    • 6 years ago

    This is a great product for HTPC, home servers or NAS at a very reasonable price.

      • fredsnotdead
      • 6 years ago

      I’m definitely interested in this for HTPC & home server use. Would like a microATX mobo though. Also, need more than 2 SATA for server.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    For what it’s worth, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a motherboard that’s this devoid of chips. There’s like, what, just that tiny chip next to the SATA ports, another tiny chip next to the audio port cluster, and that’s it. These boards have no reason to be expensive.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 6 years ago

      It really looks bare.

      [quote<] These boards have no reason to be expensive.[/quote<] Profits, that's why. The Avoton stuff has no reason to be expensive, and it's kind of pricey.

        • ronch
        • 6 years ago

        Given how little is going on on these boards, they can probably sell them cheap AND still make a tidy profit.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    AMD is just outright lying here.

    “With Discrete GPU technology”?

    What? Do they even know what “discrete GPU technology” actually means? Because discrete is pretty… self-explanatory and it’s NOT what an APU includes.

      • chuckula
      • 6 years ago

      No no no… AMD didn’t lie, it was just a typo in the translation.

      It should read: “With [b<]Discreet[/b<] GPU technology" You see, when you hide the chip under the heatsink, you can't see the GPU. That makes it very discreet!

      • freebird
      • 6 years ago

      Well, if the GCN compute block in Kabini is the same as in a “discrete” GPU pci-e card, then I guess they CAN claim it includes or comes with “discrete GPU technology”… if you understand english.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 6 years ago

        That’s how I read it, and I’m not even a rabid AMD fanboy.

      • joyzbuzz
      • 6 years ago

      Tis not ‘with Discrete GPU’, tis ‘with Discrete GPU technology’.

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 6 years ago

      How do you explain to someone that the Kabini IGP is better than the current Intel IGPs?

      My dad still thinks all IGPs are equivalent to Intel’s GMA performance.

      That was part of the reason why he was tempted to buy a laptop with a GT 610M (the other reason was because it had 2 GB of DDR3 VRAM, which the GPU would’ve never been able to use all of it).

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]How do you explain to someone that the Kabini IGP is better than the current Intel IGPs?[/quote<] ??? Unless you mean to compare Kabini vs. a much lower power envelope Baytrail part, then the explanation will be difficult since Kabini's IGP is most definitely slower than current Intel IGPs.

          • Klimax
          • 6 years ago

          Well, sometimes on par or other way. (IIRC case-by-case case. :D)

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 6 years ago

            *Kabini* not *Kaveri*… we’re talking about the former here which is far slower than even a 15W ivy bridge in graphics let alone Haswell.

            [url<]https://techreport.com/review/24856/amd-a4-5000-kabini-apu-reviewed/7[/url<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/6974/amd-kabini-review/6[/url<] Of course these chips don't even directly compete (despite having similar TDPs), so please tell me the AMD "discrete GPU technology" marketing hasn't penetrated to the level that you guys actually think otherwise...

            • Klimax
            • 6 years ago

            K as K… 😀

            Idiocy…

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      Well, I’m sure Kabini’s GPU is better than my 3dfx Voodoo3 3000.

    • Theolendras
    • 6 years ago

    Cool. Might have an upgradable part for silent SteamOS mostly in-home streaming use.

    • flip-mode
    • 6 years ago

    Sweet. I can drop one of these in my old socket AM1 motherboard!

      • Theolendras
      • 6 years ago

      you’ll need good criping tools to enable that one !

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        Criping tool? Is that what you use when you try to mod the CPU to fit the wrong socket and you say ‘CRIPES! It doesn’t work’ and then need to fix it?

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      My memory is fuzzy, but yeah, there can’t be a Socket AM2 without Socket AM1. I must’ve missed it.

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        Socket 939 was what socket AM1 would have been if they had used that terminology back then.

        The “2” in AM2 was due to the DDR2 memory support.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 6 years ago

          and 940 pins.

    • maxxcool
    • 6 years ago

    I’d really like to see a 8 core version of this versus the fake 4 cores of KEV, with the same gpu and compute count on the same mhz..

      • Theolendras
      • 6 years ago

      My guess is this is what we’ll see once AMD is finished with digging tools (post-excavator).

        • maxxcool
        • 6 years ago

        mmm.. I smell a good old fashion throwdown …

          • Theolendras
          • 6 years ago

          I think the will only maintain one x86 line, and the Kabini line can make a case for itself in AMD realm as it is quite power efficient, probaly cost much less R&D than big core, is more in line with market that can expect growth and it still can leverage unique feature like HSA down the line. Also the small core might enable them to package it in unique products, like say a big GPU core or higher density-core…

      • brucethemoose
      • 6 years ago

      What would you do with 8 kabini cores anyway?

      It’d be good for Plex transcoding, but Kaveri is better in other respects.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    AMD… where are you going?

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      They’re going where the PC gamer won’t follow, my friend.

      Wave goodbye to them. Soon, they’ll be gone and we’ll have only our Intel and nVidia overlords to shower us with price gougings and refreshes of existing products for the decades at a time.

      Remember the heady days of Intel “mainstream” CPU’s going as high as $1k for moderate increases in clock? Intel remembers and they can’t wait till they can kill the socketable LGA1150-esque chips in favor of having only socketable LGA2011-based chips with E-lines that cost well above $500 for the enthusiast.

      Though they’ll certainly be happy to sell you a more budget-oriented SOC if you like because they’ll be warring with all the hydra heads of ARM, including Qualcomm (aka “New AMD”), Old AMD, nVidia, Samsung, and all the others that are to pop out.

      We’ll remember fondly the days that AMD had a shot of being a real competitor to Intel and then crapped it all away by wasting their money trying to integrate with ATI instead of just licensing their technology…

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, I remember the days of AMD being a real competitor with Intel in desktop CPUs and their prices weren’t great when it was A64 versus Pentium 4. While they might not have quite reached the $1k mark, the FX Athlon 64s weren’t cheap, and if AMD had ‘won’ and Intel was falling apart, you can damn well bet that AMD would do the same exact things you think Intel will do.

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        You don’t think Intel wants to sell chips? I am pretty sure Intel wants to sell and market doesn’t have to buy… (older CPUs are “good enough”, right?)

        Frankly, there are more factors to chip price, then just presence of competition…

          • Ringofett
          • 6 years ago

          Competition is a big one… It takes a price being a function of a fierce battle over who can either achieve the lowest cost basis or have a sufficiently superior product to justify setting a price above that level, to maximizing what the consumer market is willing to bear. If you look at the equations governing pricing in different market structures, or even graphs, you’ll see the stark difference, and in some industries where patents create total monopolies and marginal costs are ultra-low (software, pharma), there really IS no other factor setting the price except for the fact its a monopoly. Well, there’s other factors, which is why patents exist anyway, but still.

          Wikipedia used to have mediocre entries on the various market structures, but they’ve gone from mediocre to just lowest-common-denominator. Sigh. They’re still better then nothing, though.

            • Klimax
            • 6 years ago

            That ship already sailed long ago as Intel got into best pricing already. AMD stopped being competitor…

            Couple of years late there.

            ETA: Few things added…

            Base monopoly/no-monopoly market theory is nice and dandy, but it’s already thing of past and frankly, it never seemed to play role either with Intel or with AMD. Other forces were more significant. (Including contracts)
            CPU market was/is more special case.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 6 years ago

      Hopefully, into the the land of profitability.

      More likely, they’re going to do battle with Via for the embedded x86 for industrial applications niche.

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        And out…

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    If you can actually upgrade to the next-generation low-end APU using this platform then it becomes interestly. It also makes it easier to put on a custom cooling solution, so that’s a nice feature too.

      • cmrcmk
      • 6 years ago

      I look forward to hearing about people’s water cooling adventures with Kabini.

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        😛 I was more thinking about heat-sink only passive cooling setups for ultra-quiet applications.

        Although overclocking a Kabini to 5Ghz with liquid nitrogen would be cool in a completely pointless sort of way.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Didn’t AMD state that Jaguar refers not to a single, traditional CPU core but instead refers to a 4-core module with the L2 cache? So is it prudent to call it a Jaguar module? Kabini has one Jaguar module. Is that right?

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Judging by the chip art on this article, Kabini has a die the size of Texas! And a CPU + Mobo combo will only cost $60? No wonder AMD isn’t profitable! /sarcasm

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 6 years ago

      If it’s anything like Texas, you can bet there won’t be any Homogenous computing going on inside.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      IT’S AS BIG AS A MINI-ITX MOTHERBOARD !!! 11

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Whatever miniscule market share VIA has left for themselves will disappear the moment these things hit retail.

      • shaurz
      • 6 years ago

      Wasn’t this already the case 10 years ago?

    • just brew it!
    • 6 years ago

    Awww… isn’t it cute?

    I agree, the “discrete GPU technology” thing is pretty funny. But when you’re trying to convey the concept of “integrated GPU with performance on par with a discrete GPU from this decade” in a short, marketing-friendly sound bite, whatcha gonna do?

    The AM1 nomenclature is bizarre though. I guess maybe the idea was to position it as AM3+’s baby sibling, but it also carries the connotation of “two steps back”.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      If they wanna be honest about it, the box should say, “Low end (piss-slow but STILL BETTER than Intel’s crap) discrete GPU Technology”.

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 6 years ago

        … please tell me that the majority of readers of this site don’t actually believe that statement. I’m unwilling to accept that TR readers are so out of touch with reality. This is supposed to be the one place that folks actually pay attention to facts over marketing 🙁

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah. Why AM1? And what will they call the socket that succeeds this one? AM2?

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]AMD says its APUs have several points of distinction over the Bay Trail-based competition, including faster memory speeds (1600 MT/s vs. 1333 MT/s), larger memory capacities (up to 16GB), and of course the ability to drop an upgraded chip into the CPU socket.[/quote<] 1. That's single-channel only. 2. It's unclear if desktop Baytrail literally can't use DDR3-1600 or if it is just officially specced for lower speeds. 3. Given AMD's memory controller issues, it's highly unclear if a single channel of DDR3-1600 will beat Intel's dual-channel controller. Here's a link to a baytrail motherboard for reference: [url<]http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4881#sp[/url<]

      • cosminmcm
      • 6 years ago

      Glad you found a baytrail motherboard, I was about to correct you, altough I gave you a +1 🙂
      I would really want to know if that board would work with 16GB.

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        Officially the chip is supposed to support 8GB of RAM. I’ve also seen single-RAM socket versions of the Baytrail boards (meaning they only use one of the available channels) that claim to support 8GB of RAM though.

        I think the acid test would be somebody plugging in two 8GB DIMMs and seeing if the limitation is a hard limit or just an “officially supported” number.

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