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AMD A10-7800 and A6-7400K Review: AMD Rounds Out the Kaveri Line

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Filling the Product Gaps

In the first several years of my PCPer employment, I typically handled most of the AMD CPU refreshes.  These were rather standard affairs that involved small jumps in clockspeed and performance.  These happened every 6 to 8 months, with the bigger architectural shifts happening some years apart.  We are finally seeing a new refresh of the AMD APU parts after the initial release of Kaveri to the world at the beginning of this year.  This update is different.  Unlike previous years, there are no faster parts than the already available A10-7850K.

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This refresh deals with fleshing out the rest of the Kaveri lineup with products that address different TDPs, markets, and prices.  The A10-7850K is still the king when it comes to performance on the FM2+ socket (as long as users do not pay attention to the faster CPU performance of the A10-6800K).  The initial launch in January also featured another part that never became available until now; the A8-7600 was supposed to be available some months ago, but is only making it to market now.  The 7600 part was unique in that it had a configurable TDP that went from 65 watts down to 45 watts.  The 7850K on the other hand was configurable from 95 watts down to 65 watts.

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So what are we seeing today?  AMD is releasing three parts to address the lower power markets that AMD hopes to expand their reach into.  The A8-7600 was again detailed back in January, but never released until recently.  The other two parts are brand new.  The A10-7800 is a 65 watt TDP part with a cTDP that goes down to 45 watts.  The other new chip is the A6-7600K which is unlocked, has a configurable TDP, and looks to compete directly with Intel’s recently released 20 year Anniversary Pentium G3258.

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AMD is working hard to carve out a new niche for itself, and it is leaning heavily on their GPU technology.  It is unfortunate that we have yet to see a hex-core Kaveri variant, or even a faster quad core unit to help compete against the array of Intel products in that same price range.  The GCN architecture that powers the Kaveri based APUs is strong.  Not only is it strong, but it is flexible.  AMD gave over ½ of the die space to this monster graphical unit, and when we look at the benchmarks we can see why.  AMD is betting heavily on visual computing and GPGPU/HSA implementations coming down the line to give more value to their parts than what Intel can currently provide.  Unfortunately for AMD, the Steamroller architecture powering the CPU portion does not show the IPC increases that we were hoping for.  This takes some of the luster from the excellent graphics component of this APU.

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So here we are, roughly some seven months from the initial Kaveri launch.  AMD is not offering faster products for the FM2+ socket, but they are offering interesting products.  The cTDP option is certainly a compelling one for end users and OEMs.  It allows OEMs to offer lower power systems in smaller chassis that have performance near that of the higher powered SKUs.  If performance is the primary goal, then the higher TDP setting will afford users and OEMs that particular option.  It also allows AMD to get closer to the TDP ratings of comparable Intel parts at the low end.

August 7, 2014 | 11:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about 24 compute cores, at least 10 of those "compute cores" CPU cores, yes based or your new x86 microarchitecture, the one your top CPU boffins are cooking up, and don't skimp on the stacked on die RAM, stack um up high like the mondo-pancake stack at Ned's house of sweet butter & lard! Those CPU cores need to be Full, no shared execution units, or instruction decoders, with lots of IPCs.

August 8, 2014 | 09:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yup, just pop in that new x86 architecture. (That's not expected to be ready for another couple years.)

Let's add more than double the CPU compute cores. (Despite the transistor count already being nearly 2.5 billion, more than doubling bringing it close to 5+ billion, which would dramatically reduce yield and in turn dramatically increase manufacturing costs.) Their new CPU uArch will be twice as space efficient, after all. (Even though they can only do 4 jaguar cores in the same space of a single Steamroller module, SURELY their new big-core x86 chips will be able to double the core count without dramatically increasing transistor count.)

To seal the deal, add in 'on-die stacked RAM' (which is apparently very expensive, potentially causing even more yield issues, and therefore driving costs even higher.)

Chip design is just so easy!

August 9, 2014 | 05:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just go package on package, or put the GPU die, and the CPU die on a Mezzanine module, those CPUs, and GPUs were designed with scalability in mind years ago, just bump up the core count an enable some of the resources that were fused off. Yes a big fat module, with a 1024 bit bus, to some on mezzanine module stacked Ram, All on one big fat coherent interconnect fabric. There, if the CPU is bad, well it does not have to be, throw the GPU out with the bath water, same for the GPU. Hay it cold be 10 ARMv8 ISA based custom cores, as long as the SIMD instructions were there, hell some ARMv8 custom cores like the Apple A7/A8, or the Nvidia Denver cores, wide order superscalar designs, for rendering workloads(ray Tracing) to go along with the AMD graphics, and HSA goodness. It does not have to be x86, I'm Sure AMD has some good custom ARM designs ready to go to compete with Apple, and Nvidia. Or some Power8 based product, just license a reference design from openpower/IBM and integrate it with AMD graphics, no big x86 redesign worries there, Just some on die/on module interconnect work, AMD has some IP of its own there, or just get CAPI, tweak it and rebrand it, like Nvidia did for its NvLink, lots of IP out there besides just CPU IP/ISA that can be licensed to get to market quicker. The HPC world is going to be a big user of GPU accelerators on Mezzanine Modules, to go along with the CPUs, for speeds/bandwidth that even PCI can not handle. That HPC goodness will work its way down to the consumer market, But I need more cores, at least 10(CPU cores) to go along with the GPU, that is unless hardware ray tracing circuitry comes the market in a big way, Though I have not heard any new news concerning the PowerVR wizard GPU with the hardware ray tracing, but them Rays Need tracing, and tracing Needs CPU cores, lots of cores/threads. Chip design worries, Just look at the latest Intel E chips, Just some server SKUs that did not make the top bin, just fused of and gimped down, under a layer of really sticky thermal epoxy, just fuse and use. More cores, more cores, CPU cores that is, AMD!

August 10, 2014 | 03:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is what opteron boards / chips are for. You can get all this stuff today, in fact, you could get a dual socket AMD board for about the same price as a mid-range i7.

August 10, 2014 | 07:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'll take a custom ARMv8 ISA chip with 24 cores, and some AMD graphics, in a portable workstation form factor, 7 or more IPC custom wide order superscalar cores, and plenty of SIMD/Neon goodness, to go along with the Firepro! Now AMD get some Dedicated Ray Tracing going on your Pro Graphics SKUs, and all those cores will not be necessary! Do they have Opteron based portable workstation SKUs, at rock bottom prices, hell AMD I am waiting for your Custom ARMv8 designs, Apple has got its Cyclone, soon to be replaced with a newer chip, and Nvidia has its Denver custom cores. I do not need any reference design ARM 3 IPC cores, give me 7 IPCs and some SIMD extended instructions. Hell make a Xeon Pi competitor(pricewise at least) with 96 custom ARM cores, and wider SIMD, and other Ops for Tracing them Rays, and keep your eyes open to what Imagination is doing with the PowerVR wizard, and get some Hardware Ray Tracing going on your Pro GPUs. And for sure look into getting your GPUs intimate with some Power8, on a Mezzanine module with stacked Ram for pillows, and an 1024 bit bus tying it all together, don't let the green team get ahead, with a Power8 hammer drop, its only a license away, just like ARM stuff.

P.S. AMD get your gaming console APUs with some beefed up GPU cores on a discrete PCI card, and start the whole home gaming/computing cluster market going, and Fill those slots with complete gaming platform/s for some real low latency gaming, and tell the motherboard CPU to kiss off and take care of some house keeping chores, screw the consoles get the Clusters! Now that's some HSA goodness on a PCI card, and Nvidia is heading that direction too!

August 7, 2014 | 11:56 AM - Posted by JohnGR

I was expecting to see a Pentium or a Celeron to compare with 7400K. I think this processor is in fact the most interesting between these two. 7800 we already know more or less what it can or it can't do.

Thanks for the review.

August 8, 2014 | 03:57 AM - Posted by johnpatrick21 (not verified)

On its own, the current and previous gen AMD APUs are ok. Unless these perform to at least the level of a GTX650, HD 7770/90, or its R7s, you're still better off getting a discrete graphics card for a proper, budget gaming PC.

August 8, 2014 | 02:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The 7600 seems like an absolute, super cheap gaming powerhouse for people who play on their TV`s @ 720p or dont bother with new 3xA games @ 1080p.

August 9, 2014 | 02:09 PM - Posted by PhoneyVirus

Happy with the Core i7 4790K drawing 88 watts.

PhoneyVirus
https://twitter.com/PhoneyVirus
https://phoneyvirus.wordpress.com/

August 17, 2014 | 02:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Looks weak...my 4 year old GPU is still better.

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