Graphics, Hardware

AMD Launches Kabini-based G-Series SoC

With the release of the Embedded G-series System-on-Chip (SoC) platform, the first product based on AMDs Jaguar architecture hits the market. AMD made the announcement on the DESIGN West expo earlier today. This comes rather quickly after AMD executives states last week in their earnings call that they started revenue shipments of Kabini, the very silicon that powers those new Embedded G-series SoCs.

The new SoCs feature 2-4 X86 cores and come at TDPs ranging from 9W up to 25W. The cores are clocked at 1-2 GHz, feature 1-2MB shared L2 cache. The integrated GPU is based on AMDs GCN architecture and clocks at up to 600MHz. The company didn’t give much specifics on the GPU beyond that, but stated that the HD 8400E has a peak performance of 153.6 GFLOPs. Since AMDs GCN shader cores can process a maximum of two FLOPs per cycle, this would amount to 128 cores in this model.

With Kabini and henceforth on the G-series SoC, the functionality of the Fusion controller hub (FCH) is integrated into the APU, hence the SoC branding. The chip integrates two SATA connections with up to 6Gb/s transfer speeds, 2 USB 3.0 and 8 USB 2.0 ports, four PCIe 2.0 x1 links for companion chips as well as a PCIe 2.0 x4 link for optional discrete graphics or other higher performance I/O. Last but not least a SDIO controller is integrated that allows using a SD card for storage without additional chips.

The SoC supports a single DDR3 memory channel up to DDR3-1600 which equates to 12.8GB/s. The memory controller can drive up to two DIMMs and also supports ECC. Standard voltage as well as 1.35V and 1.25V levels are supported. The SoC comes in a 24.5mm x 24.5mm BGA package called FT3 and thus cuts board real estate by almost 33% versus the G-series APU that had a separate I/O controller (the FCH). A detailed overview of the specs can be reviewed in AMDs product brief.

AMD claims a 113% performance advantage of the x86 cores in multithreaded benchmarks as well as a 20% performance increase in 3D applications when compared to their previous embedded G-series APU based on the Zacate core (Brazos platform). Once we discount the fact that the new SoC has twice the number of cores as well as the higher clock speed of the G-series APU AMD used for comparison, a 7.15% increase of performance per core normalized to the same clock speed was achieved merely by the new microarchitecture.

Unlike what AMD stated when they announced their 2013 Wafer Supply Agreement, Kabini and Temash are manufactured at the 28nm node at TSMC, not GLOBALFOUNDRIES. This is what the company stated around CES, without being too vocal about it. After the all the company had to pay a hefty sum to do so as it had an exclusivity agreement with GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

Later this year it is expected that AMD brings this power efficient core into other markets. Kabini will target small desktop and notebooks, while Temash is specifically engineered for dockable tablets at a 4.5W TDP. Another Jaguar-based product codenamed Kyoto is aimed at the server market. In an interview with AMDs Andrew Feldman it was also alluded that a product based on small x86 cores will make it into a SeaMicro fabric based system in the fall 2013.

The architecture also makes a broad showing in the console space where AMD and Sony already announced the use of a semi-custom 8-core Jaguar derivative, while it is expected that AMD and Microsoft announce a similar system configuration for the upcoming Xbox 720 later this year, probably at E3.

The pricing of the G-series SoC ranges from $49 to $72 per SoC, with no further details on the intermediate SKUs. This gives a rough picture of where prices for the desktop and notebook models should go once they are launched.