Presentation of 3rd generation energy-efficient AMD Mullins and AMD Beema APUs of AMD Company
“Those who purchase superfluous after all would sell the most important”
Many users during choice of computer components direct attention to the top components with the aim to get the maximum productivity level. Moreover, many of them first of all pay attention to a devotion to specific brand which is more preferable in all cases. Also important role play cost and energy efficiency of the end device. In our opinion this approach is more appropriate because it allows to select an optimal solution for a specific scope of application. For example the category of overclocking, gaming, and office or home multimedia systems requires different approaches in selecting of components. Due to this it became possible to create different market segments where nowadays there is a stiff fight between rival companies. As a result of this confrontation more efficient devices with an optimal price and features ratio are made. Also it stimulates producers to the constant search for new solutions, giving back much more than just a financial reward but the goal. Only goal makes sense of our actions, directs our efforts, allows you to touch the borders of the possible and to estimate own capabilities.
But let’s move away from the philosophy and come back to reality, where we will have a presentation of the 3rd generation of energy efficient APU of AMD Company which is presented by two different lines: AMD Mullins and AMD Beema. Series of these portable solutions are aimed at the use of entry level and mainstream devices classes. In the near future they will be used as a basis of new tablets, nettops, laptops and monoblocks. What advantages they have? What is their distinctive characteristic? All these questions were answered by AMD company representatives during presentation preparing.
The presentation began with a brief history of the development of energy-efficient APU line of AMD Company. As it is known the first were models of AMD Brazos series. These were the first products of AMD that combined CPU and GPU cores and memory controller on a single chip. Also quite successful is the 2nd generation AMD Temash and AMD Kabini. SoC design was firstly used exactly for these models (the most important interface controllers were added on the core). Also the integration of more productive graphics micro-architecture AMD GCN was carried out. Now the 3rd generation takes the baton. It is presented by AMD Mullins and AMD Beema solutions which provide a higher level of performance while reducing the thermal package.
What promises gives AMD company? Firstly, the leader positions regarding performance in specific market segment. Secondly, a high quality of video processing. Thirdly, the integration of special ARM-core to improve safety level. Sounds pretty impressive, isn't it?
To achieve these goals the following items were used:
• 28-nm micro-architecture of AMD Puma+ cores, which is an improved version of AMD Jaguar;
• optimized micro-architecture of integrated graphics adapter (AMD GCN);
• System-Aware Power Management design to optimize power consumption and to reduce leakage of energy;
• Platform Security Processor (PSP) - integrated ARM-based processor to implement security at the hardware level;
• improved memory controller that supports DDR3L- 1866 MHz module standard;
• a higher clock frequency of CPU and GPU cores at a low TDP rate.
All this allows to implement many useful technologies at the hardware level. For example, AMD Quick Stream Technology allows you to increase the priority of online video, providing comfortable watching in the Internet even in high-quality content. Technology AMD Perfect Picture with AMD Steady Video allows you to apply various algorithms of image afterwork to improve its quality in real time.
Software developers can use these features to implement new control technologies, for example, AMD Gesture Control and AMD Face Login. The first allows you to control basic actions using gestural commands, and the second to use the user's face for personal authorization for the operating system and on any online sites.
Additionally APU AMD is optimized for more productive operation with the virtual environment of BlueStack Company to run Android-application in Windows OS.
AMD representatives were right regarding leader positions of AMD Mullins and AMD Beema solutions as for performance level. Using the results of benchmark testing, the special attention is given to the values of PCMark8 and 3DMark11 benchmarks. Though the results of Basemark CL expressive, but during their analysis you should take into account that this test program is based on API OpenCL. This standard is actively promoted by AMD Company among software developers because it requires code optimization for the parallel programming. In other words, OpenCL benchmark shows how processor performance will increase during the work with applications optimized for OpenCL. A list of compatible software is constantly expanding but many popular applications still are not optimized.
As for PCMark8 and 3DMark11 benchmarks. The first allows to evaluate the complex level of performance for typical everyday tasks (work with documents, watching of multimedia files, searching the information via Internet, etc.). The second gives an objective evaluation of the performance of the graphics core using the popular API DirectX 11 as a basis.
As you can see, the platform AMD Mullins represented by APU AMD A4 Micro-6400T could completely beat the competitive leader solution Intel Atom Z3770 (platform Intel Bay Trail T). In turn the model of AMD Beema series successfully competes not only with Intel Bay Trail M platform but with the initial solution of Intel Haswell series. That is, in the segment of initial and mainstream levels focused on performance of typical daily tasks and playing of undemanding games, APU of AMD Company look suitably in comparison with competitive analogues.
AMD company has produced three APU models of AMD Mullins series: Dual-core AMD E1 Micro-6200T and quad-core AMD A4 Micro-6400T and AMD A10 Micro-6700T. It is remarkably that all of them perfectly fit in the original naming scheme that greatly simplifies product differentiation according performance level. Used graphics core of series AMD Radeon R2 and Radeon R4 also provides the introduction about performance level in comparison with other branded products.
The special attention is payed to the fact that TDP index doesn’t exceed 4.5 W, and SDP value (Scenario Design Power) is 2.8 W. It means that the product will be an excellent option for creating of productive and energy efficient tablets and ultra-fine laptops.
The devices with Intel Bay Trail T platform are not the competitors for our device. Devices with more expensive Series Intel Haswell Y platform can be considered in this aspect.
For example, the performance of the processor Intel Core i3-4010Y is comparable to the model AMD A10 Micro-6700T, but its TDP value is 11.5W and SDP - 6W that significantly exceed APU indices. Recommended cost of Intel processor is $281. It means that APU AMD A10 Micro-6700T can more efficiently consume battery charge providing lower performance level, and the price will be lower (unfortunately the recommended prices of new products were not specified).
APU AMD Beema line includes four models: one dual-core (AMD E1-6010) and three quad-cores (AMD E2-6110, AMD A4-6210 and AMD A6-6310). All of them provide a noticeable level of heightened performance compared with its predecessors in of AMD Kabini series. However a more important role plays the reduced TDP value: from 25 to 15 W. Also the leader can boast with support of memory standard DDR3L-1866 MHz, which is very important for integrated graphics core.
They are positioned against the solutions of platforms Intel Bay Trail M and Intel Haswell U, providing higher performance in benchmarks. The most impressive result is 3DMark11.
The next part of APU AMD Mullins and AMD Beema presentation was devoted to a more detailed analysis of micro-architectural features that are the foundation of such impressive performance values.
Firstly the AMD specialists shared the development strategies of their products. In 2013 the main aims of APU AMD Temash and AMD Kabini were centered around the transition to a new process (from 40-nm to 28-nm), a new micro-architecture (AMD Jaguar for processor cores and AMD GCN for graphics core) and a new design (SoC ), APU AMD Mullins and AMD Beema had to increase the level of security, improve performance and decrease power consumption. These aims were achieved by PSP integration, optimization of key blocks power consumption, increase the clock frequency and the application of technology consumption capacity management.
The final version of the structure APU AMD Mullins and AMD Beema has the following structure. As you can see, on a single chip it combines RAM controller, up to four processor cores with micro-architecture Puma+ and 2 MB cache-memory L2, graphics adapter with micro-architecture AMD GCN, special processor PSP, as well as a number of controllers with relevant interfaces: PCI Express, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, SATA, USB, SD, etc.
Processor lithography is very interesting. Most of the space requires graphical adapter, that four processor cores, 2 MB cache memory L2, chipset and DDR3L-memory interface. Let’s remind that the integration of these components on a single chip (SoC design) allows to simplify the design and reduce the cost of the motherboard, to increase the rate of interaction between the structural units, to reduce energy losses and to reduce power consumption.
Unfortunately, this presentation doesn’t contain technical features of micro-architecture optimization but the end result is quite impressive for energy efficient devices. In particular, the maximum clock frequency of the processor cores AMD Mullins has risen to 2.2 GHz compared with 1.4 GHz of AMD Temash. For AMD Beema and AMD Kabini the figures are 2.4 and 2.0 GHz. At the same time power leakage was reduced to 19%.
For GPU frequency increase is not so significant but still important: +100 MHz for AMD Mullins and +200 MHz for AMD Beema compared to AMD Temash and AMD Kabini respectively. Power loss was reduced to 38%.
Additional 700 mW of power were reduced by integrating of energy-efficient memory controller DDR3L-1333MHz with module Voltage-Mode Logic (VML) to connect the display. But the implementation of RAM support of DDR3L-1866 MHz standard allows APU AMD A6-6310 (AMD Beema) obtain an additional performance bonus. Benchmark 3DMark Cloud Gate estimated it at 5% compared with the performance of DDR3L-1600 memory.
Of course, one of the most interesting parts of the presentation was devoted to improve security level by integration of ARM-core, which is a unique event for the entire class of x86 processors. What is the principle of its operation, and what can be done with its help?
Answers to these questions are in a stable trend of mass increase in the number of portable devices. According to the tests 92 % of users have more than one computer. The average number of computation device (desktop and mobile computers, smartphones, tablets etc) per one user is 3.8. Thus, important data can be stored not only on protected desktop computer, but also on less secured tablets, smartphones or other devices. In addition, many users connect their personal devices to corporate networks, thereby opening the access to important business information. Taking into account the increasing popularity of e-commerce and online shopping, there are not doubts in necessity to protect the information.
Therefore, AMD decided to integrate into own APU the technology ARM TrusTzone with Trustonic ecosystem based on open industry standards. Choice is not accidental, because the technology is already well tested in the environment of ARM-devices. Trustonic ecosystem combines more than 100 million connected devices that guarantee the high interest of software developers, network operators and other major market participants.
The foundation of ARM TrustZone technology is hardware support of three components: safe applications and operating systems loading, accelerating of cryptographic operations and environment Trusted Execution support. This allows more efficient realize methods of authentication in addition to the traditional combination of username/password, protect data from malicious software and support TPM 2.0 technology, as well as secure online exchange of important personal information (online banking, e-shopping, etc. ).
At the same ARM TrustZone technology is integrated into the operating system environment (Windows, Android and others), allowing to separate standard operations from high security actions. As a result the devices based on APU AMD Mullins and AMD Beema will provide a higher level of security of important information.
PSP integrated module includes 32-bit microcontroller based on the core ARM Cortex A5, cache-memory instructions and data, additional cryptographic coprocessor, ROM and SRAM-memory blocks, as well as an interface to access system memory and other resources. It is a full-featured processor with main purpose to provide improved security of information storage and exchange on the end device (laptop, tablet, nettop or other type of computer).
And now let's take a closer look to innovations in energy consumption sphere which can boast by APU AMD Mullins and AMD Beema.
Let’s remind key features of this aspect. They are:
• productivity increase while reduce of power consumption;
• off-line time increase;
• decrease of heat package to reduce requirements to the cooling system and the implementation of more fine and compact formats;
• reduction of energy consumption, TCO value and the impact to the external ecosystem.
The realization of these goals in models AMD Mullins and AMD Beema can be divided into two categories: traditional measures and innovative technologies. The first should include further optimization of micro-architecture, decrease of energy leakage, the transition to the use of more energy-efficient controllers (e.g., DDR3L instead of DDR3), etc. All these steps are standard and used by all developers of processors.
The second category is more interesting, as it involves the use of unique and innovative approaches. One of such approach was technology AMD Skin Temperature Aware Power Management (AMD STAPM). Its key parameters are the temperature APU (Tj) and the temperature of the device case (Tskin). If the limit of the first is 70°C or more (depends on the model), then the excess by the second one of mark 40°C will be negatively reflected on comfort level of the end device such as a tablet.
Therefore, AMD specialists have measured how fast the increase of Tj leads to the achievement of the critical parameter Tskin. The result was 15-20 minutes. After this, it was necessary to reduce Tj to acceptable level by reducing operating clock frequency. The temperature should not exceed a comfortable index. This is a goal of AMD STAPM technology. In other words, the point of its work is to limit the clock frequencies to achieve Tskin values close to the fixed critical value.
It was observed that the maximum computing power is required only at certain periods of application work. As an example let’s learn the searching for information in the Internet. For processing of user’s request and download the desired web-page some computational capabilities are required while for a few minutes further display on the screen until the user is familiar with the received information. That is, after the peak at the beginning of request processing usually there is a long phase of acquaintance with the received answer that requires a minimum of system resources. This time imbalance allows more efficient use energy of APU without exceeding the comfortable surface temperature.
Another important energy-saving technology is AMD Intelligent Boost Control. It is not a secret that each specific program differently responds to increase of processor clock frequency: some of them add the value, while the others provide small or even zero growth. Therefore AMD Company has developed a special microcontroller which traces program dependence of frequency increase in real-time. When the second startup of the application this system will know its “reaction” regarding frequency increase.
Due to the combination of these technologies it became possible to achieve not only increased performance but also a substantial reduction of power consumption. This is confirmed bybenchmark 3DMark Energy Consumed and Scores also. As we can see in case of comparison of APU AMD A6-6310 (AMD Beema) with a similar 15W and 4-core model AMD Kabini, power consumption was decreased from 6600J to approximately 6000J. At the same time, the level of productivity increased approximately from 500 to almost 800 points.
Moreover, AMD promises that provided technologies and optimizations of power consumption is just a small part. The next generations of energy efficient portanbe APU will have improved abovementioned aspects, as well as new will appear. In particular, they plan to integrate the module of voltage control directly on the processor chip and add Intel-frame power gating technology.
In conclusion of the presentation AMD decided to demonstrate some “reference” designs of tablets that were created as part of an internal project Discovery based on energy-efficient APU AMD Mullins. They became possible thanks to the combination of processor and graphics performance with the possibility of passive cooling of the APU.
The first (AMD Game Cradle) is a tablet with an integrated game controller that allows more comfortably enjoy the gameplay. The second uses a docking station for easy viewing the content and connecting of various peripherals. Third (AMD Project Nano) is one of the smallest computer with a webcam on the front panel. On the back wall there is a connector for a docking station with additional ports. The dimensions of this device are comparable with large smartphones.
Note that these prototypes were created by specialists of AMD Company for APU AMD Mullins opportunities presentation. It is possible that they will never be on mass market. If these processors will interest the partners of AMD, we will see not only these options but also a number of other designs.