Final Words

Despite no significant changes to the architecture or manufacturing process, AMD’s 2014 updates to its entry level and low power silicon are substantial. We finally have AMD silicon, built around a non-Bulldozer architecture, that seem to have turbo capabilities comparable to Intel’s. The result is a completely different performance profile. While AMD’s Jaguar cores in Kabini and Temash were easily outperformed by Intel’s Bay Trail, Puma+ pulls ahead. AMD continues to hold a substantial GPU performance advantage as well.

The gains in performance come while decreasing platform power. You can now have roughly the same performance as AMD offered last year in a 15W entry level notebook part, in a 4.5W TDP (2.8W SDP) tablet SKU. That’s seriously impressive.

The progress AMD made in a year with Beema and Mullins shows just how time constrained the team(s) were with bringing Kabini and Temash to market in 2013. While both of those SoCs were quite successful for AMD, I expect that at some point AMD won’t be allowed two years to fully polish a single design.

The big unknown is how these new SoCs stack up against Bay Trail when it comes to power consumption. From a performance standpoint at the very high end they are faster, but we’ll have to wait until we can get our hands on shipping devices before we know the full story when it comes to battery life. AMD expects to see Beema and Mullins designs show up over the next 1 - 2 quarters, with some designs shipping in the coming weeks to specific regions.

The other thing we need to see is a real Android strategy from AMD. Mullins seems like a good fit for a high performance Android tablet, but today AMD’s native OS strategy is exclusively Windows. I don’t think it’ll stay that way for long, but AMD has yet to give us any indication of when it’ll change.

And if I’m asking for things I want to see from AMD, you can add a PoP package and idle power that’s competitive with the likes of Apple and Qualcomm. AMD clearly came a long way over the past couple of years, but there’s still more progress to be made.

The Discovery Tablet & Performance
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  • Nintendo Maniac 64 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Hmmm, sounds like the AMD equivalent of an Intel "tick", especially considering that the IPC between Puma+ and Jaguar is unchanged.

    Interestingly enough, this would mean that the PS4 and Xbone could use Puma+ cores in the future (with turbo disabled obviously).
  • nevertell - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Why would they need to disable turbo? I believe nobody is hitting the CPU performance limits just to have a fps limit or rely on the raw performance for timing, whereas this could improve some load times or improve performance during context switching.
  • mwarner1 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Consoles have fixed performance hardware to prevent games & applications performing differently on different hardware revisions. If you bought a PS4 today and then next week a new version was released (but likely not announced) that made games smoother / more playable then you would have the right to be annoyed.
  • Havor - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    No the main reason for fixed performance hardware is that developers dont have too add code or scalable textures to adjust or performance differences.

    And thus they have a more efficient single spec code, that dose not have to adjust to hardware spec.
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Yeah, I highly doubt they'll switch architectures since it has never happened before. Power savings and console redesigns come from shrinks and on-die packaging.
  • Samus - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    There's nothing stopping Sony or Microsoft from launching a "performance edition" PS4 or XBOX One with a hardware bump that simply added antialiasing, etc, to games.

    This has already been done over the years with Nintendo offering the 4MB RAMBUS upgrade for the N64, and various performance storage options for XBOX 360/PS3 to assist load times of disc-based games. The SSD-edition of the 360 can load games/levels virtually instantly compared to running from disc or disk.
  • mfoley93 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    These aren't really higher performance though, just lower power. They could just lower the clock to offset whatever slight performance gains there are to equal the launch products.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    1. When Microsoft or Sony want to increase performance, they only do so via software updates that don't destabilize the platform as a whole. Neither can afford to break millions of consoles with a bad update or segregate the community into two camps. On the other hand, if developers of individual games find a way to improve framerates or AA, they can submit updates for download - but only after it is tested by the console manufacturers.
    2. I have the 4MB upgrade for my N64, only TWO games required it, a very small percentage of N64 games supported it, and even fewer truly benefited from it. It's mild success was due entirely to ZMM, DK, and PD, but Nintendo hasn't tried anything like it since. (Lest we forget the 64DD...)
    3. Only Sony lets you install any drive you want. Most reviews from those that have upgraded to SSDs say it just isn't worth it. It's a consumer option, not something Sony changes at the platform level. The games still run at the same speed with the same textures.
    4. There is no consumer "SSD Edition" Xbox 360 and they won't let you install one (officially). Are you referring to the 4GB Slim? That's not an SSD and most 360 games are too big to install onto it.
    5. I have yet to see a console SSD upgrade result in anything instantaneously... except regret. :D
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Consoles are to be 'fixed spec' so that game developers know exactly what to expect in terms of hardware. The lone exception has been storage capacity. The N64 memory expansion is an excellent example of why developers aim for the lower guaranteed spec: only three games required it with a handful of games that'd use it if present.

    Both MS and Sony could come out with a hardware revision that does a bit more outside of gaming without impacting game developers. For example, MS could release an Xbox One with a digital tuner + DVR hardware. Such a change would have no impact to the gaming side of things. Ditto if MS or Sony were to add backwards compatibility via hardware: it'd be unavailable to use in an Xbox One or PS4 game.
  • Arbee - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    There was a late revision of the original PlayStation where the GPU got significantly faster for some operations, which resulted in higher frame rates in some games. (This was when the debug units switched from blue to green, in order to differentiate).

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