Finals Words & Conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
Kaveri is good step forward for AMD, the heterogeneous architecture allows them to have the different segments within the APU to communicate and address each other much better, faster and more efficient. That is in essence what the big achievement of Kaveri entails. It is the first step for AMD's true heterogeneous architecture, a symbiosis of segments like the processor, IGP, memory controller, video engine and so on all merged together. And that brings in efficiency. Kaveri as such is the most powerful APU AMD ever introduced, the focus for AMD however has been everything but not processing performance, and that puzzles me. I've been thinking about this for tdays really, I mean AMD put well over 2 Billion transistors in this APU and that shows in both OpenCL and graphics performance. Kudo's for that. But the actual processing performance of the product is barely a notch faster compared to Trinity and Richland, and I just don't get it anymore. See it's now 2014 and the APU serial processing performance is not even at the performance level of a Phenom II X4 970 from early 2011. AMD on their end claims that actually processing performance is less significant and that the GPU performance as well as OpenCL performance is where they need to be. CPU performance will be compensated once Mantle kicks in, it pretty much sums up AMDs look at things. But even if Mantle would get wise adoption from the software houses, it's not gonna help them at all with generic CPU dependant applications, just with games.
In AMDs defense, we can compare a A8-7600 price wise towards the Intel Core I3 4330 CPU right ? I mean it's the same price. On Intels side you get a much slower IGP and actually only two physical CPU cores. In that perspective the A8 series at the very least seem to be very tempting. But sure, it will be interesting to see how this will pan out on the short term.
The A8-7600 APU as tested today performance roughly at similar performance levels as the previous generation A10-6700 and A10 6800K APUs. We feel that the AMD A8-7600 as tested today is a product for entry-level towards mainstream PCs, it is an excellent solution for HTPCs. The focus on the A8 system and the capabilities will be small form factor PCs for casual gaming, media etc and on that front it definitely excels. The A8-7600 with its optional TDP configuration at 45W might very well be the sweet spot for Kaveri.
Overall though our conclusion remains fairly close to all other APU reviews we have written in the last year or so, the danger for the success of the APU on the Desktop PC platform remains the lack of raw processor power. But the IGP inside the APU is leading and highly programmable. OpenCL and anything compute related is exactly where this APU shines. Gaming wise a migration of the architecture to GCN is a very clever step as well. With mediocre settings you can actually play games at 1080P, please do pair it with fast DDR3 memory though as the iGPU is very dependant on system memory. So yeah, you can even play game at 720P and some even at 1080P considering you flick down image quality settings, and that's progress alright. Realistically if you build a PC for everyday usage like browsing and perhaps Photoshop a thing or two then it's all good really. The Kaveri APU also excels with its updated video engine and all the multi-monitor output lovin this APU offers, AMD simply wins hands down opposed to anything Intel has to offer.
TDP wise AMD has given the A8-7600 a configurable TDP option in the BIOS. If you need a little more performance then in the BIOS you can enable a 65W TDP, if you like a more energy friendly box (say a nice HTPC or NAS/File-server) then you can configure the APU at 45W. Both configurations we feel in this day and age are reasonable for what the product really is and offers.
The Platform Overall
Now in the beginning of this conclusion I wrote an entire chapter about processing performance, but the truth is also (and you do need to realize this) that a Kaveri APU based platform will offer tremendous value for money. AMD is intensely strong with the embedded GPU and can spin-off many functions from that GPU. Combined with the series 8 chipset you will gain features like a SATA-600 and USB 3.0 support. Also a very powerful Catalyst based software suite surrounding AMDs APUs definitely brings heaps of advantages to them opposed to the competition. Remember, the A8 7600 APU offers decent enough CPU performance, excellent multi-media options, the Full HD experience and sure, even gaming albeit very low level will work just fine.
Alright lets wrap things up. I profoundly like the new Kaveri architecture, it is the first true native heterogeneous APU architecture that will set the path into the future. With it's well over 2 Billion transistors it isn't even a cheap chip to produce. I do worry though that the overall serial processing performance (raw processor performance) is just not enough to make a big enough difference for you guys as you demand something faster. That really is my only negative view on Kaveri. On the architecture side of things, Kaveri is looking mighty good. Even the A8 model we just tested managed to impress me and will make for an excellent APU to run your average PC for browsing, photo's and multi-media functionality. It'll be great as a HTPC and and other small form factor functionality. Where the A10 has 512 Shader processors, the A8 has 384 Shader processor inside the iGPU, and even then it manages to position itself on top of our IGP rankings. So the move towards the GCN GPU architecture was a great, albeit expensive, one. But utilizing both the CPU and GPU architecture does make Kaveri Excel at tasks that will make use of both, OpenCL keeps coming back into my mind as well as gaming. If you purchase a Kaveri APU with the combination of that Series 8 motherboard, you'll have a processor, graphics subsystem, up-to eight SATA-600 ports, USB 3.0, heaps of USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HD audio and you simply get a very up-to-date PC. So for 120 EUR the A8-7600 can make a lot of sense.
Kaveri will be hard to beat in terms of features and overall performance, this is an excellent and affordable APU for a HTPC or a simple Windows 8.1 PC. Gamers with a high-end dedicated graphics cards will however require a little more boom-boom-pow in the raw processor performance. But who knows, Mantle might be the magic that AMD needs to happen and solve that need. And yeah sure, if in the future more applications will make use of OpenCL and HSA, then the sun will rise and shine for AMD. And the A8-7600, this actually might be the best price-performance / sweet-spot APU out of all models released today.
Handy related downloads: