CES: AMD Kaveri, Mantle and FreeSync Demonstration
AMD has a lot to show on CES with their latest products. The new AMD APUs, based on Kaveri architecture will launch on 14th January. The initial line-up will include 2 models: A10-7850K and A10-7700K. These have integrated graphics based on GCN architecture (same as in current Radeon graphics cards). AMD claims that A10-7850K’s iGPU can outperform Intel’s HD4600 by 35%-90% depending on the game. Such performance should put it head to head against Intel’s most powerful Iris and Iris Pro iGPUs. Even if it will not reach as far as AMD claims, it will still be a very compelling solution for budget gamers and people who want to have tiny gaming capable devices. A10-7850K MSRP is $173, while the only Intel CPUs with Iris iGPUs are the expensive high-end models in BGA package (practically soldered to motherboard), AMD won’t reach Intel’s CPU performance and power efficiency, Kaveri provides 30% more performance per watt than its predecessor – Richland.
Another important part of AMD’s graphical efforts is Mantle API. This closer to metal graphics solution should provide less overhead, reduce CPU load from draw calls and thus improve performance. AMD has showcased Oxide Starswarm demo with a lot of different objects in frame on a Kaveri APU. The chip could manage only 10 FPS in DirectX mode, but Mantle managed to improve performance 3 times to reach 30 FPS. As for the performance in real games, AMD has finally shown a bit of Battlefield 4 using Mantle. While the video snippet itself is short it seems that the game is working. With all the bug troubles it is hard to expect that everything works well at this point, however, so do not expect miraculous performance jump right away. AMD claims 45% performance improvement compared to DirectX. It will be interesting to see the benchmarks after the Mantle support is released for the game.
Finally, AMD has the answer to Nvidia’s G-Sync – FreeSync. There have already been some ideas about variable refresh rate for mobile devices to reduce power consumption. These found their way into VESA standard for controlling VBLANK intervals and have been supported by AMD GPUs for the last several generations. The only issue is finding the existing monitors that support this, while AMD plans to expose the ability in their drivers in the future. AMD has demonstrated their technology on the unmodified Toshiba Satellite Click laptops. The TechReport has interviewed Nvidia on the reasons for the creation of G-Sync hardware when there were already some monitors with VBLANK control. It seems that the reason is the difference between laptop and desktop display connectivity. While many laptop GPUs have direct control over display, desktop monitors have a scaler chip communicating with GPU. If this is correct we may see FreeSync working only on laptops.