MSI Launches AM1I Mini ITX Motherboard For Socketed Kabini SoCs

Subject: Motherboards | March 5, 2014 - 08:35 PM |
Tagged: SoC, msi, mini ITX, Kabini, FS1B, AM1

MSI recently introduced its first motherboard based around AMD’s new AM1 platfrom called the AM1I. The new board uses the mini ITX form factor while supporting a Kabini SoC and all of its IO options including SATA III, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and triple display outputs.

The AM1I sports a FS1B CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 32GB single channel memory at 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (electrically x4), and a single mPCI-E connector. The mini ITX AM1I motherboard further features a TPM connector, 7.1 channel Realtek ALC887 audio chipset, and a Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller.

MSI AM1I Mini ITX Motherboard For AM1 Platform and Socketed Kabini SoCs.jpg

The AM1 Platform uses the FS1B socket and a new cooler mounting system (though the boards spotted at CES used a traditional FM2/AM3 HSF mount). So far, it appears the only heatsinks available will be those bundled with Kabini chips in retail boxes.

The rear I/O panel of the AM1I includes:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
  • 3 x analog audio outputs

MSI has not released exact pricing or availability, but expect the board to arrive sometime in mid-April for well under $40 (AMD has stated that the AM1 platform (FS1B motherboard plus a Kabini SoC) will cost around $60). Note that AM1 platform boards are extremely low cost because the IO is contained within the Kabini chip and not by on-motherboard chipsets.

Source: MSI
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Low Power and Low Price

Back at CES earlier this year, we came across a couple of interesting motherboards that were neither AM3+ nor FM2+.  These small, sparse, and inexpensive boards were actually based on the unannounced AM1 platform.  This socket is actually the FS1b socket that is typically reserved for mobile applications which require the use of swappable APUs.  The goal here is to provide a low cost, upgradeable platform for emerging markets where price is absolutely key.

am1_01.jpg

AMD has not exactly been living on easy street for the past several years.  Their CPU technologies have not been entirely competitive with Intel.  This is their bread and butter.  Helping to prop the company up though is a very robust and competitive graphics unit.  The standalone and integrated graphics technology they offer are not only competitive, but also class leading in some cases.  The integration of AMD’s GCN architecture into APUs has been their crowning achievement as of late.

This is not to say that AMD is totally deficient in their CPU designs.  Their low power/low cost designs that started with the Bobcat architecture all those years back have always been very competitive in terms of performance, price, and power consumption.  The latest iteration is the Kabini APU based on the Jaguar core architecture paired with GCN graphics.  Kabini will be the part going into the FS1b socket that powers the AM1 platform.

am1_02.jpg

Kabini is a four core processor (Jaguar) with a 128 unit GCN graphics part (8 GCN cores).  These APUs will be rated at 25 watts up and down the stack.  Even if they come with half the cores, it will still be a 25 watt part.  AMD says that 25 watts is the sweet spot in terms of performance, cooling, and power consumption.  Go lower than that and too much performance is sacrificed, and any higher it would make more sense to go with a Trinity/Richland/Kaveri solution.  That 25 watt figure also encompasses the primary I/O functionality that typically resides on a standalone motherboard chipset.  Kabini features 2 SATA 6G ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and 8 USB 2.0 ports.  It also features multiple PCI-E lanes as well as a 4x PCI-E connection for external graphics.  The chip also supports DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA outputs.  This is a true SOC from AMD that does a whole lot of work for not a whole lot of power.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

CompuLab fit-PC4 Includes AMD SoC/APU... But Not Fans

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 1, 2014 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: Tamesh, Kabini, fit-PC4, compulab, amd

Passively cooled PCs are an interesting niche, often associated with the need for silence. Be it audio recording or home theater appliances, some situations are just not well suited to having a whirring fan.

fit-pc4-poster-900px.jpg

Recently announced is the fit-PC4 is a fanless system, fourth in its lineage. This time the system is using AMD for its CPU and GPU. Two models are available, separated into "Pro" and "Value". Its specifications are broken down into the table below.

  fit-PC4 Pro fit-PC4 Value
Processor AMD GX-420CA (25W TDP, Kabini) AMD A4-1250 APU (8W TDP, Temash)
-    CPU Quad-core (Jaguar-based) @ 2.0 GHz Dual-core (Jaguar-based) @ 1.0 GHz
-    GPU Radeon HD 8400E Radeon HD 8210
RAM Up to 16GB (2 DIMM)
Storage 2.5" HDD/SSD + mSATA + microSD
I/O
2x HDMI 1.4a (1920x1200 max) with CEC support
S/PDIF, line-out, mic-in (I assume 3.5mm)
2x Gigabit Ethernet
mini-PCIe slot for cellular modem
2x USB 3.0 and 6x USB 2.0
WiFi 802.11ac 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 3.0 + HS
Dimensions 16cm x 19cm x 3.7cm 16cm x 16cm x 2.5cm
Price $380 $299

Interestingly, the company considers these devices "ruggedized" as well as fanless. As such, they have a 5-year warranty. It seems to be quite the feature-packed device with two HDMI 1.4 outlets, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an available slot for a cellular modem. The Pro even has 802.11ac WiFi. I am not entirely sure the intended purpose of this device, but the company claims that the previous generation product was often purchased by video surveillance and digital signage customers. Interestingly, Windows 7 and Linux are the two choices for operating systems.

The fit-PC4 is available now in either a $299 (Value-Barebone) or $380 (Pro-Barebone) model.

Source: CompuLab

Sorry China, no Kabini for you

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 11:43 AM |
Tagged: amd, Kabini

As you may have heard mention of on the podcast last night, AMD has a habit of crowding the lower end of the CPU and GPU markets with a wde variety of choices of product separated by very little money.  While this can lead some entry level PC buyers to a bit of confusion at first, having a wide variety of choices is a good thing for the consumer.  DigiTimes reported on an interesting decision made by AMD which bucks that trend, at least in China.  It would seem that instead of releasing Kabini there, AMD is depending on the deep price cuts they've applied to previous generations of APU to compete against Intel as those price cuts would make Kabini much less attractive in that market.  As a bonus we also received confirmation that Beema is still on schedule for the second half of this year.

12_0.jpg

"AMD is expected to ship 300,000 Kabini processors in the first quarter of 2014, 1.2 million units in the first half, and 3.8-3.9 million units in the whole year, the sources indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Four Processors Might Be Slated for AMD's AM1 Socket

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 26, 2014 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: AM1, Kabini, amd

Chinese VR-Zone published claims that AMD will have up to four processors planned for AM1. This is the brand of socket designed for the upcoming Kabini APUs that we have discussed since the CES time frame. Three of the upcoming processors will be quad-core with one dual-core for variety. Regardless of core count, all four processors are listed at 25 watts (TDP).

Product Cores CPU
GPU
L2 TDP
A6-5350 Quad 2.05GHz HD 8400 2MB 25W
A4-5150 Quad 1.60GHz HD 8400 2MB 25W
E2-3850 Quad 1.30GHz HD 8280 2MB 25W
E1-2650 Dual 1.45GHz HD 8240 1MB 25W

Kabini pairs Jaguar cores, for x86-based serial processing, with a GCN-based graphics processor supporting DirectX 11.1. Users planning to purchase Kabini for use with Windows 8.1 should expect to miss out on some or all of the benefits associated with DirectX 11.2 (along with everyone on Windows 8 and earlier). Little of value would be lost, however.

These products are expected to be positioned against Bay Trail-D which powers Intel's Pentium and Celeron lines. The currently available products from Intel are classified at 10W TDP and around 2 GHz.

Kaveri and socketed Kabini at CES 2014

AMD is pushing lesser-clocked (and higher TDP) products based on Jaguar against Intel's Silvermont. I am not sure sure how the two architectures compare although I would expect the latter to win out clock-for-clock and watt-for-watt. Then again, cost and graphics performance could be significantly superior with AMD. Ultimately, it will be up to the overall benchmarks (and pricing) to see how they will actually stack up.

Source: VR-Zone

CES 2014: New MSI AMD Kaveri A88X Motherboards and Socketed Kabini

Subject: Motherboards | January 6, 2014 - 01:19 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, video, msi, amd, A88X, Kabini, Kaveri

One of our first meetings at CES 2014 was with MSI.  Below we have a video of the company's latest iterations on the AMD-family of motherboards including a Gaming Series mATX offering, a mini-ITX FM2+ board (perfect for Kaveri's release) as well as the only socketed AMD Kabini platform we have seen!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

AMD's plans for 2014

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2013 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: amd, 2014, beema, Kabini, FS1B

DigiTimes has put together an overview of AMD's plans to take back market share over the coming year, though of course AMD is not confirming or denying the accuracy of their report.  First off will be the coming of the 28nm Kaveri family in January with availability planned to follow quickly.  Beema, which will be based on the Puma+ architecture should arrive in the summer but there is also a Kabini-based series for the new socket, FS1B, which will get limited release in some areas.  FS1B will be used for up coming Sempron and Athlon models designed for low power usage scenarios though don't expect to see AM3+ or FM2 disappear any time soon.  You will have to wait for 2015 before Carrizo and Nolan make an appearance.

amd.jpg

"AMD has been enhancing the marketing of its processors in DIY markets and aims to increase its global DIY market share from about 30% currently to 40%, and to reach a DIY market share above 45% in China in particular, at the end of 2014, according to Taiwan-based motherboard makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

AMD's unannouced 2014 roadmap

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2013 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: amd, roadmap, 2014, Kaveri, Kabini, carrizo, beema, Excavator, Nolan, 2015, socket sf1b

As is usually the case, AMD will not comment on the accuracy of DigiTimes information but as we have seen in the past their roadmaps have been spot on.  Over the next 8 months or so will see the arrival of the Hawaii GPU family and the entrance of Kaveri and Kabini chips, nothing new there but good to have independent confirmation.  In the latter part of 2014 and 2015 things are a little more interesting as Beema will replace Kabini with an HSA compliant architecture and use a new socket called FS1B.  In 2015 Beema will be replaced by a chip called Nolan and we will finally see the Excavator based Carrizo which are slated to have 45W and 65W versions.

You can expect to see FM1 and AM3 phased out of active production by the end of 2013, with AM3+ and FM2 being the two active sockets until FS1B arrives.

amd.jpg

"AMD has recently updated its product roadmap and is set to release its Hawaii-based GPUs at the end of September, Kaveri-based APUs for the high-end segment and Kabini-based APUs for the entry-level segment in the first quarter of 2014, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will NOT utilize AMD hUMA with Kabini-based SoC

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 10:39 AM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd

UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).

You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture.  hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.

huma_01.jpg

Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:

The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory.  Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.

ps4-hrdware-large18.jpg

There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect.  After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on.  AMD further clarified with us:

Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.

xboxone.png

So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.

NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA.  That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.

UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment.  Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true.  Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information. 

So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory?  Maybe.  And the Xbox One?  Maybe.  At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter.  Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...

ECS Reveals its First Motherboard with the AMD Kabini - KBN-I

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2013 - 11:10 AM |
Tagged: SoC, KBN-I, Kabini, ECS, A6-5200

ECS' new KBN-I board simply needs you to add some RAM and storage to become a fully functional computer.  The integrated 2.0Ghz A6-5200 with its accompanying HD 8400 graphics are enough power for general computing duties and perhaps even newer titles if you turn the settings down somewhat. If you do plan on gaming there is a PCIe 3.0 16x slot for an expansion card, though you might be better served with a TV capture card instead of a graphics card.   

kbn_color.png

19th Jun 2013, Taipei, Taiwan - Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) reveals its latest Mini-ITX motherboard family-KBN-I-featuring the world 1st Quad Core SoC (system-on-a-chip) processor with the newest “Jaguar” 28 nanometer architecture. The ECS KBN-I is integrated AMD Quad Core A6-5200 APU with AMD Radeon HD 8400 Graphics, support new generation DirectX 11.1 graphics, and offer 50% longer battery life performance. The ECS KBN-I with official Windows 8 WHCK certification (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) allows users to take full advantage of the touch browser and function-oriented design of Windows 8. The NM70-I is optimized for home, general computing productivity and multimedia applications.

Up to 25% More Power Efficiency
Designed to save space and energy, the ECS KBN-I is the ideal solution for small-form factor systems, with the AMD Kabini Quad Core SoC processor and maximum of 25W low power consumption. It improves a better power efficiency with up to 25% more power efficiency thru clock gating and unit redesign compared with current generation low power platform. Thanks to new generation design of increasing the amount of core, instructions per clock(IPC), and boost clock speed, the ECS KBN-I reducing energy usage by operating at lower frequencies when performance is not necessary. The ECS KBN-I also has 9W fanless Heat Sink design, full electrostatic discharge protection and 100% solid capacitors to maximize the reliability and longevity of your system.

Excellent Extension Support
Even with the mini-ITX size of the KBN-I, ECS has kept in mind the expansion needs of future-proof minded customers. The ECS KBN-I supports video and storage upgrades with 1 x PCI-E x16, 2 x SATA 6GB/s connections, 2 x USB 3.0 ports and 4 x USB 2.0 ports. For industrial applications, the KBN-I is equipped with Serial port output (COM). The Mini-PCIe slot is designed for laptops and other small-footprint computer systems and supports Mini-PCI card (one full-card and one half-card) for mini-Wireless, mini-TV tuner and so on. Moreover, users can enjoy high definition media as the KBN-I support HD 1080p output including HDMI and standard analog D-Sub VGA output. The NM70-I is bundled with additional software including Norton anti-virus, Muzee, Cyberlink Media Suite, and the ECS iEZ utility, which combines eBLU BIOS Live Update Utility, eDLU Drivers Live Update Utility and the eSF Smart Fan Utility.

Source: ECS