CPU Performance & Power

On the CPU front, the difference between the Core i5-3317U and the Pentium 2020M is actually quite small. The former has a nice 2.6GHz max turbo while the latter has a higher TDP and thus a higher base clock as well. The result is that most single threaded performance results are very close between the two. If we look at Kraken, SunSpider, PCMark, Cinebench (1-thread) or 7-Zip (1-thread) - the two perform quite similarly. As a result, Kabini doesn’t really gain any ground here. In my own use, I can feel a performance difference between the 2020M and the A4-5000 in tasks like installing/launching applications, as well as bigger CPU bound activities.

CPU Performance
  PCMark 7 Cinebench 11.5 (Single Threaded) Cinebench 11.5 (Multithreaded) 7-Zip Benchmark (Single Threaded) 7-Zip Benchmark (Multithreaded)
AMD A4-5000 (1.5GHz Jaguar x 4) 2425 0.39 1.5 1323 4509
Intel Pentium 2020M (2.4GHz IVB x 2) 4214 1.00 1.96 2856 5434
Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz IVB x 2) 4318 1.07 2.39 2816 6598

A big issue here is Kabini, at least in its launched versions, lacks any turbo core support. The 15W A4-5000 runs even single threaded tasks as if all four cores were active and eating into that TDP budget. The fastest Jaguar implementation seems to be 2GHz, but even if the A4-5000 could turbo up to that level I feel like I’d still want a bit more. There’s obviously room on the table for a Kabini refresh, even at 28nm.

For light web browsing and general use workloads Kabini, like many modern platforms, can really be good enough.

It is impossible to have a performance discussion without looking at power consumption when it comes to mobile devices. This is where Kabini makes up a lot of ground. The Pentium 2020M is a 35W part (Intel does offer slower 17W parts but I unfortunately don’t have a system that uses one of those), compared to the A4-5000’s 15W TDP. I measured total platform power of both notebooks without a battery and with the display disabled (and using the same SSD in its lowest power state). While isolating SoC power would be ideal, this does give us a general idea of platform power consumption:

Platform Power Consumption
  Idle Cinebench 11.5 (1-thread) Cinebench 11.5 (multithreaded) 7-Zip (1-thread) 7-Zip (multithreaded)
AMD A4-5000 (1.5GHz Jaguar x 4) 4.75W 7.91W 11.5W 7.9W 11.3W
Intel Pentium 2020M (2.4GHz IVB x 2) 8.14W 17.9W 22.4W 17.6W 21.7W

The difference is pretty big. Kabini will either last longer on the same size battery, or be able to fit into a smaller chassis altogether. I also suspect the 15W TDP is perhaps a bit conservative, total platform power consumption with all CPU cores firing never exceeded 12W (meaning SoC power consumption is far lower, likely sub-10W).

It’s also worth pointing out that there’s clearly a lot of thermal headroom when only a single CPU core is active. Design limitations would probably keep a single core from ramping up too high, but there’s clearly room for improvement here.

The 17W Pentium/Celeron parts are architecturally very similar to the 2020M I’m featuring here, they just run at 75% of the clock speed. If we assume perfect scaling, Intel would appear to still hold substantial single-threaded CPU performance advantage even if the comparison was to a lower clocked Pentium. Interestingly enough, the multithreaded advantage would pretty much disappear though. These 35W Pentiums seem a lot more common in retail (likely because of the spec shopping that’s presumed at these lower price points).

Compared to Atom (or Brazos), Kabini does extremely well though. Similar to Brazos, AMD is looking for Kabini to do battle slightly above its weight class. In its press materials AMD specifically calls out Pentium and Core i3 as potential targets for the A4/A6-class Kabini APUs. Part of this is AMD looking at the CPU and GPU as a whole though, so let’s move on to the graphics comparison.

Introduction GPU Performance & Power vs. Intel HD Graphics
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  • chizow - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    I don't understand what the market is for one of these. Pretty poor CPU performance and untenable graphics performance for anything more than video streaming/web surfing. Seems to me like a faster CPU with less emphasis on GPU (i3-3XXX) paired with a low-power, low-profile discrete GPU would be the better way to go.
  • jeffkibuule - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    Uhh... these are going into $300 laptops. There will be no discrete GPUs here.
  • Frenetic Pony - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    This is really the market here. I'm fine with my 17 watt Ivy Core i5 Ivy bridge thanks, and my sister will be good with a 15 watt Haswell when she gets a new laptop next month. The key here is price, not performance per watt, in which case you'd just go with a Core i-whatever (possibly with a dedicated Nvidia GPU) and call it good.
  • medi02 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    So what kind of apps does our sister run, to justify need for a faster performing CPU? (and doh, just i5 won't cut it, you need a ULW part, or you are losing on longevity vs Kabini; So we are talking what, twice or triple the price?)
  • chizow - Friday, May 24, 2013 - link

    I see, so these are like Netbook 2.0, I figured it was the first step to making AMD's Fusion a huge success with the APU, offering much faster graphics than ever before on a CPU. But it's really AMD's version of the Atom?
  • Gigaplex - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - link

    AMD has two main Fusion lines. This line is the Atom competitor, which uses the low power CPU architecture (Bobcat derivative). The APUs that offer the high end graphics use the higher performance architecture (Bulldozer derivative). It sounds like you'd be more interested in the upcoming Kaveri chips.
  • Voldenuit - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    I'm with chizow. AMD is trying to sell a sub-par device upmarket. These things really belonged in netbooks from 2 years ago. Their performance and and pricepoint is irrelvant today when a $200-300 Android tablet is a better ancillary computing device than a $300-400 netbook.

    The tablet may have less computing power and not be able to run the full suite of x86 productivity software, but will have a better screen, better battery life, more portability, and more importantly, said tablet would be better suited to running its native lightweight Android apps and games than Kabini, which is burdened with full-fat x86 programs targeted at more powerful CPUs/GPUs.
  • glsunder - Sunday, May 26, 2013 - link

    If you're not gaming, this would be quite nice for a little laptop. Most laptops with these apus won't have dvd drives, so they won't be used for ripping. If I'm going to play a game, it'll be on my desktop.

    I have an e-350 based laptop that I bought a few years ago. Under windows, it was plenty fast enough to do coding on and run VMs (vs no VM on atom). It was too slow to run an android ARM emulator, but native x86 android worked fine for testing apps. I recently switched it to Ubuntu, which is quite a bit more responsive than Win7.
  • hyperspaced - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    "Full-fat x86 programs"? Are you talking about the CISC-RISC age-old comparison?

    So, what's your point? The same software will run better on RISC architecture?
  • Voldenuit - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    The point is that most apps on Android are simpler and less resource-intensive because they are designed for:
    a. lower power CPUs
    b. lower feature set
    You can do more with most windows program suites than the comparable alternatives on Android, but if you want to do anything beyond basic editing/viewing, you'd be better off with a Corei/Richland laptop anyway.

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