The AMD Discovery Platform
To test the Mullins APU, we spent a little time with and AMD-built prototype tablet, AMD’s Discovery Platform. The tablet was built around a 4.5W A10 Micro-6700T APU, and is passively cooled. Though the tablet was very well built for a prototype, we should point out that this particular device will not be sold at retail. It is simply a vehicle for testing AMD’s latest APUs.
The tablet featured a 10.1” full-HD 1080P screen, with all of the amenities you’d expect from a current-gen tablet. As we’ve already mentioned, it was powered by an A10 Micro-6700T quad-core APU with Radeon R6 graphics, which was paired to 2GB of DDR3-1333 memory and a 64GB SanDisk SSD. The device was running Windows 8.1 64-bit edition.
Though we didn’t configure the tablet ourselves, we did spend a considerable amount of time poking around the OS installation and made the same tweaks to it that we would when building up our own test beds. We also installed our own copies of many of the benchmarks and we left on our own to run whatever tests we wanted. Time was limited, however, so we didn’t get a chance to do much additional experimentation. Because this is only a reference platform, we also weren’t able to directly test power or battery life.
The block diagram above shows all of the IO and sensors attached to the Mullins SoC used in the tablet. As you can see, it had just about everything you could ask for. What it doesn’t show is how the device felt in practice. We can say with confidence that the tablet was fast and fluid and every bit as usable as any Bay Trail or low-voltage Intel Core-based mobile device. In addition, because the tablet had a relatively powerful graphics setup, it was also able to play some fairly taxing games. Dirt Showdown, for example, was perfectly playable with high image quality settings at 720P. That’s pretty impressive for a passively cooled device.
Though we couldn’t test power on our own, AMD provided some numbers to show how Beema compared to last-year’s Kabini. Across the board, regardless of workload, the Beema system uses les power, which directly translates to longer battery life.
If you’d like more specifics about the setup, here are an array of screenshots taken with CPU-Z. We’ve got the CPU, graphics, memory, and motherboard info for you here. Please note, that the three images across the top were captured while the system was idling, while it was running a single-threaded workload, and while running a multi-threaded workload. Assuming CPU-Z was reading the sensors correctly, the chip idled at 997MHz with a .24V core voltage. When running a single-threaded workload, the chip would peak at 2.195GHz at .925V, and with a multi-threaded workload the chip would run at 1.596GHz at .575V. Now, these clocks weren’t constant—they fluctuated quickly as the APU churned through a workload (AMD claims the APUs can switch between power states within single digit micro-second time intervals, and switch from full system idle to higher power states in the tens of microseconds, including voltage changes and bringing up the clocks), but they give you an idea of how the chips run in a passively cooled device.