AMD's 'Richland' platform is a largely incremental
upgrade to the companies mobile APU processing platform; a moderate boost to CPU clock speeds and a collection of
small power saving refinements built on existing architecture. On a less important level to the consumer,
this launch also marks yet another change in AMDs marketing
strategy. The 'AMD Vision' branding
has been officially retired in favour of a more direct and meaningful approach. With the
35W mobile Richland APUs, AMD will begin rolling out the "Elite Performance APU Platform" and re-emphasizing "brand AMD."
The four mobile APUs we'll be introducing in this
article represent the 35W mobile 'Richland' platform as it stands now.
Throughout the rest of 2013, AMD has revealed it will release more power
efficient 25W TDP and 17W TDP notebook processors as well. Coupled with
Radeon HD 8000-series graphics cores, these A-series mobile APUs should serve as good insight into AMD's anticipated
refresh of the desktop APU family, too.
Architecturally speaking, 'Richland' is not much of a
departure from what we witnessed with mobile 'Trinity'. AMD has improved
Turbo Core by refining on-die temperature sensing; enabling
bi-directional frequency scaling of the GPU and CPU which share the same
physical silicon core and squeezing out what efficiencies it can. Aside from that,
there's not much architecturally different going on.
In light of the pressure from always-on tablet
devices, the company is putting emphasis on AMD 'Start Now'
- a catch all name for wake times that are being whittled down
to ~1 second from S3/S4 hibernation states. Memory support is not a whole
lot different, though the flagship A10-5750M APU now supports faster DDR3-1866 memory. New
software features leverage the Radeon HD 8000-series shader cores to provide first
generation facial recognition and gestural control.
The four new mobile A-series APUs include the
quad-core 3.5GHz A10-5750M and 3.1GHz
A8-5550M, dual-core 3.5GHz A6-5350M and 3.3GHz
A4-5150M processor. Let's
begin with a look a the spec chart:
'Richland' Mobile Platform APUs - 1H 2013
These mobile APU processors are being introduced in April 2013 and span elite,
mainstream and entry level performance levels. Each APU will
have a TDP of 35W. At a later date AMD have stated they will introduce low
voltage 25W TDP and ultra low voltage 17W TDP chips, most likely by
the end of the first half of 2013.
four APUs in the above chart can roughly be grouped into
the A4/A6 5-series APUs which are dual core
and feature 1MB of L2 cache and the A8/A10 5-series APUs which feature 4MB of L2 cache and quad-cores. Processor
clock speeds range from 3.1GHz to 3.5GHz in turbo mode, with base frequencies
between 2.1GHz and 2.9GHz, depending on model.
The flagship AMD A10-5750M APU now
memory. All four APUs feature a re-spun Radeon
IGP-core which really isn't any different than what was integrated on previous APUs, just clocked faster and given a
Radeon HD 8xxx series model number. The IGP's range from 128-shaders at the
low end to 384-shaders at the top.
AMD 'Richland' Mobile Platform IGPs - 1H 2013
The integrated Radeon graphics cores being paired with the
above APUs are essentially a faster clocked version of the same GPU integrated
onto AMD 'Piledriver' chips. Code named 'Northern Island', the HD 8-series GPUs
in the 'Richland' platform are essentially respun, clocked
faster and renamed. The new 'Steamroller' APU+GPU is not expected to be
introduced until Q3'13.
The top-end GPU bundled with the AMD
A10-5750M APU is the Radeon HD 8650G - this graphics core has 384-shaders and
operates at a peak clock speed of 720MHz, the lower state frequency being
533MHz. In its briefing with PCSTATS, AMD claimed the Radeon HD 8650G
IGP, which is part of the AMD A10-5750M APU, offers better performance and value than
the Intel IGP of the Core i7-3520M CPU.
New Software Feature Set Launched
with the AMD 'Richland' Platform
Of the six software features incorporated with the AMD
'Richland' APU platform, three are brand new - AMD Gesture Control, AMD Face
Login and AMD Screen Mirror.
AMD Gesture Control is a software tool which allows a regular 720p
notebook web camera to monitor a users hand gestures and translate that
movement into actionable control commands in the computer - say, for scrolling
through a web page or navigating previous pages of a web site.
AMD is partnering with the independent software vendor I-Sight to
provide the 'AMD Gesture Control' software
application. Gestural Control is in the first stage of
implementation, meaning this is an existing application which works with
standard out of the box 2D web cameras (ie. no depth
perception) and nothing at all like the infrared technology behind the
Microsoft Kinect, for example.
Similarly, AMD Face Login leverages the web camera and existing facial recognition software
to augment the Windows login or supplement passwords to web sites. Sounds pretty
cool, but PCSTATS has yet to test this application so there's
still the question of how easy software face recognition is to fool
with a photo.
AMD Screen Mirror is essentially a
DNLA service which quickly and easily duplicates your notebook screen on
a DNLA-enabled device like a boardroom HDTV. It transmits a low latency stream of
your PC monitor to any DNLA receivers (Digital Media Renderer with H.264/AAC
required) on a home network. It is not to be confused with the "Mirror
Cast" WiFi display standard, nor can it be used to extend the desktop onto a
DNLA device - it's only good for mirroring the display.
Lastly, there is AMD Start Now. Start Now aims to provide a 1
second resume from S3/S4 hibernation state (speed is influenced by use of notebook HDD
or SSD). With the broad adoption of tablet computers, there is more pressure on notebooks
to achieve a similar level of 'responsiveness', according to AMD.
Next up, a quick look at the power management efficiencies AMD was
able to garner via its effort to optimize existing architectures.