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AMD Announces More Kaveri Details and HSA Development Tools

As AMD’s APU13 developer conference kicked off in San Jose, California we got some more information from AMD about their upcoming Kaveri APU, however we didn’t get the paper launch we were hoping for. They once again confirmed that they would be hard launching in January 2014, and shipping to OEMs in Q4 2013. This was delivered by Dr. Lisa Su with a long speech about the value of an APU over a standard CPU.

AMD is clearly proud of their APU, specifically the GPU segment of the APU and all of the compute functionality that it has. They tout the OpenCL, Direct Computer, DirectX, OpenGL and Mantle feature.

Dr. Lisa Su also detailed the actual expected performance of the Kaveri APU with both the Steamroller x86 CPU cores and the AMD GCN-based GPU cores. She said that most of the estimated compute functionality will be derived from the GPU part of the APU.

In addition to that, Lisa Su announced that Kaveri would also support Mantle, AMD’s own down-to-metal GPU API set that the company is expecting to help improve the performance and efficiency of games and applications.

Lisa Su actually had John Taylor come on stage to show a comparison demo between their new Kaveri APU and an Intel and Nvidia-based system. The specs of the system they were comparing against was an Intel Core i7 4770K and an Nvidia GT630 GPU. However, no gamer would ever build a system with these specs and It felt a bit of an odd shot at Intel and Nvidia when they clearly had put an overpowered CPU in an underpowered GPU system. Considering that a 4770K will most likely be more expensive than AMD’s Kaveri APU, it seems like an unreasonable system configuration for gaming. Honestly, the audience would have been better served by something like a Core i5-4570 and a GTX 650, at the very least. Instead, AMD intentionall gimped their competitors’ system by putting a vastly underpowered GPU in the system, Nvidia’s weakest offering on the market.

From what we could tell, the system running the Intel and Nvidia was running around 16 FPS and the AMD system was running a bit over 30 FPS. While both systems were running at medium settings, the AMD system ran pretty smoothly a bit over 30 FPS. The AMD system wasn’t even running AMD’s Mantle version of Battlefield 4 yet, so there’s a theoretical capability that it could be running even faster.

There was a lengthy update on HSA that detailed all of the new promoters, supporters, contributors and universities that had come onboard, including some of the new tools for making HSA applications.

During the keynote, they also talked about the fact that the HSA foundation’s members were very strong and shipping more and more mobile devices coming from the HSA foundation members. However, none of them have officially announced any HSA products quite yet, even though we’re more than a year out from the HSA Foundation’s original announcement.

They also showed off HP’s Moonshot system with AMD’s Kyoto APU, which will hopefully be updated with Kaveri next year. But right now, HP is working with AMD to build cartridges for their Moonshot project. Considering how many Moonshot project partners are ARM partners, it is merely a matter of time until AMD brings something similar. We’ve seen many HP Moonshot implementations, so it will be interesting to see what kinds of design wins AMD can get from HP, but since AMD is actually a direct competitor with HP with their SeaMicro division, there may not be much of an official announcement of any design wins AMD makes. That is unless SeaMicro makes the design wins.