Same goes for the world of computing and gaming, you still remember your first PC don't you? Of-course you do everyone does along with the most detailed specifications. Now the questions is what is the best processor to start with if you want to gift a system to your kid as a learning machine or to someone who has just touched the world of computing, without blowing a hole in your pocket and still not compromising on the performance part just to give a sweet memory to the user himself.
Well AMD recently came up with an answer to this questions with its latest line up of the "Kabini" processors or rather APU to be precise. Easy on the pocket and hard on performance. For further details read on.
Whats inside the Chip?
The Basic Specifications:In particular I took a look at the Athlon 5350, which is the top of the “Kabini” tier. The Athlon 5350 is powered by four “Jaguar” cores, which are built on the same 28nm process as its big brother “Kaveri”. What you end up with is four CPU compute cores, along with a Radeon R3 GCN GPU, totaling 128 Radeon cores. Clock speeds for the Athlon 5350 APU are set at 2.05GHz for the CPU cores and 600MHz for the GPU, additionally memory speeds allow for up to DDR3-1600MHz. Not only is the Athlon 5350 designed to be budget friendly, but it also is designed to be low power and run cool. With a TDP of only 25W you can be sure that you won’t be using a ton of electricity running this system. This will cut down on the cost of a big and powerful PSU making your whole setup cheaper in terms of money but not in performance.
Tech Specs:The 4th generation AMD desktop APU processors (Kaveri) were the first products to include HSA features and now "Kabini" will offer the same abilities. This revolutionary new technology allows programmers to use the CPU and GPU compute units together as 'compute cores', each capable of accessing all the system memory and dispatching work to other cores - even of different types of workloads. Ultimately, this will allow the GPU compute units to be simply used as compute accelerators for all kinds of data parallel operations., which is the next generation of processor architecture and programming.
GCN, Mantle, TrueAudio, Eyefinity: For the graphics compute units “Kabini” uses the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and is based on the Sea Islands GPU, the same architecture that the Radeon R7 and R9 GPUs are built upon. “Kabini” GPU cores run at a reduced frequency to provide power efficiency, while still having compute power. With the APU architecture, system memory size and speed has a large effect on the ability of the GPU cores. AMD's Mantle API is fully supported with Kabini courtesy of it's GCN graphics cores inside the APU. Additionally, as with most modern AMD GPU products, Eyefinity is supported, along with the AMD’s TrueAudio experience, and video processing enhancements.
The Test Reports
What the AM1 platform really has to offer is the ability to put a low cost and low power system just about anywhere. The ability to build a small form factor system for use as an HTPC or as a NAS unit is certainly a possibility, or maybe you want to put a PC in your kid's room and help him learn and rub shoulders with the ever growing world of computing. The entire goal of the platform is to make PC computing affordable to everyone with motherboards as low as $30 dollars and the dual-core Semperon Chip as low as $36. At the top end, motherboards are going for $50-60 dollars and the Athlon 5350 processor for $65-70. So as you can see from those prices you could build a sub $200-300 dollars system easily for media streaming or many other uses.
The Athlon 5350 that I tested ran smoothly and tested well in benchmarks, especially when put against other processors that would fall into the budget category. You can see that we ran some media tests including x.264 and in that test we were able to encode video on the 5350 at about 6 fps. Now, clearly, this processor is not meant for processing production video, but what that shows is that there is plenty of power to decode video and stream smoothly. I also tested some of the AMD video smoothing features and did see some difference in the quality of the video using Blu-ray.
The AM1 series of chips are using “Jaguar” cores which happen to be the same cores that are used as the basis for the PS4 and XBOX One systems. These APUs are no gaming beasts by any means but they certainly can play some casual games without a GPU and, while you can add a discrete GPU to the system, it would need to be a lower end one since the PCI-E bus only supports x4 speeds regardless of the length of the PCI-E slot on the motherboard.
Some other features of the processor deserve some mention, one is that we still have support for the Mantle API with the “Kabini” processors and TrueAudio capability for surround sound on a set of stereo headphones. Additionally, if you wanted to use one of these as your streaming box (HTPC) for your entertainment system, you have the benefit of AMD Fluid Motion Video with does some post processing on video in real time to provide a smoother more optimal look.
What you get with the AM1 platform and the Athlon 5350 processor is the ability to build a low priced system that will suit the majority of users’ needs nicely. With my testing, clearly the system can handle a multitude of tasks, including streaming, office tasks, web surfing, and even some casual games, such as Minecraft. Similar to other APUs, the CPU cores are a less powerful than a product that is a pure CPU system but with the added GPU power of the Radeon cores, the processor makes up for it. What impressed me the most was the incredibly low power usage topping out around 60 watts and low temperatures, and that it is a budget friendly system. There is the potential to have a $200 to $300 dollars system for those everyday computing tasks or even a little more.
I give the AMD Athlon 5350 a high recommendation for a budget built for almost all genres of usages.
- Low Priced
- HSA Computing Looks Promising
- Overall Improved Performance
- Great Temperatures
- Improved Video Performance
- Extremely Low Power Consumption
- Low Priced Motherboards
- Good for SFF Systems
- AMD Fluid Motion Video
- Great for Everyday Computing
- x4 Speed PCI-E bus only
- Single Thread Performance Stagnant
So this was all that I had to say and tell about the new AMD Kabini APU roll outs. As always do leave a comment or a suggestion for improvements if I've made an error or a point that I didn't mention.