AMD Unwraps Kaveri
This new APU includes the TrueAudio technology that AMD launched earlier this year with its Hawaii graphics cards, up to four Steamroller cores, and a total of 512 GPU cores. It also adds support for critical heterogeneous computing capabilities that AMD baked into the HSA Standard. Previous AMD APUs could execute OpenCL on the GPU and shared some data between the CPU and its caches, but Kaveri is the first chip to be fully HSA-compatible.
HSA gives the APU the ability to pass data between the CPU and GPU directly in order to execute each workload where it makes the most sense to do so. Older chips could perform this kind of work, but the process of moving data between the two types of cores could consume hundreds of CPU cycles. Now the two cores can share data with a much smaller penalty. AMD has talked about this kind of capability ever since it unveiled its plan for the original "Fusion" products back in 2007. Kaveri is designed to deliver on a promise that's now nearly seven years old.
The tricky thing about HSA, though, is that compatible software isn't available yet. Programs written for older APUs won't automatically take advantage of HSA until they are reprogrammed to do so. This could take some time, and there's no firm timeline on when we should expect to see major applications taking advantage of the new communication ability. AMD is also leaning on the Steamroller core optimizations and the superior performance of the 512 GCN cores to boost the chip in the short-term.
So what kind of performance is AMD claiming for the new chip? Let's look and see...