AMD has revealed details about its upcoming A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) codenamed 'Carrizo'. The chipmaker, presenting at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), said that the new APUs will offer both increased performance and energy efficiency. Key parts of the new architecture are the 'Excavator' x86 cores and a new generation of AMD Radeon GPU cores.
Largest generational performance-per-watt gain ever
"As a part of our continued focus on building great products, the advanced power and performance optimisations we have designed into our upcoming 'Carrizo' APU will deliver the largest generational performance-per-watt gain ever for a mainstream AMD APU," said Sam Naffziger, AMD Corporate Fellow and co-author of the AMD presentation at ISSCC. He went on to explain that AMD has managed to improve both performance and efficiency thanks to technologies like Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and its own power management schemes. Furthermore Naffzinger confidently claimed that Carrizo is a large, purposeful step toward AMD's 25x20 goal.
The new Carrizo APUs might provide a big step up for AMD's competitiveness but it isn't all just about performance and energy efficiency. The architecture also incorporates "a wealth of new features that will be adopted across our full product line," such as on chip H.265 video decoding supporting true 4K resolutions, extending battery life and reducing 4K bandwidth requirements.
New Carrizo Disclosure Highlights from ISSCC:
29% more transistors in nearly the same die size as its predecessor, 'Kaveri';
New 'Excavator' x86 cores provide an uplift in instructions-per-clock at 40% less power;
New Radeon GPU cores with dedicated power supply;
Dedicated, on-chip H.265 video decode;
Double digit percentage increases in both performance and battery life;
Integrated Southbridge for the first time on an AMD high-performance APU.
AMD has managed an impressive uplift in performance and efficiency without moving from the "cost optimised 28nm process," thanks to new high density design libraries. In fact the firm managed to fit 3.1 billion transistors into Carrizo (29 per cent more than Kaveri) with a negligible increase in chip size.
Carrizo is the first processor in the industry designed to be compliant with the HSA 1.0 specification, says AMD. This change will make programming accelerators such as the GPU far simpler and can result in better performance at lower power consumption. Another big advantage of HSA is the implementation of heterogeneous Unified Memory Access (hUMA) within Carrizo, reducing the number of instructions required to complete many tasks.
Two important new power efficiency technologies mentioned by AMD at the ISSCC are: Voltage adaptive functionality which adjusts clock frequency "at the nanosecond level," reducing power use "by up to 10 per cent on the GPU and up to 19 per cent on the CPU," without any compromise in performance. Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling (AVFS) implements patented silicon speed capability sensors, and voltage sensors in addition to traditional temperature and power sensors which can help an APU operate with up to 30 per cent better power efficiency.
AMD Carrizo APUs will be made available for both laptops and low-power desktops such as All-in-Ones by 'mid-year'.