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Mobile APUs deliver higher processing capacities

30 Apr 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has unveiled its next generation of cores, or Puma, with two mobile accelerated processing units (APUs): a low-power chip code named Mullins and a mainstream chip, Beema. The Puma generation offers integrated security, improved power consumption, and increased processing capabilities.

"Our focus with Mullins and Beema in the third generation was overall performance per watt, fitting in to smaller form factors, and overall improved experienced," said Kevin Lensing, senior director of mobility solutions.

Each Puma SoC comes in two and four core sets with top stack Mullins, designed for a variety of mobile devices, with clock speed topping out at 2.2GHz for a "general sense of responsiveness and snappiness." Beema has achieved maximum CPU speeds of 2.4GHz for use in traditional notebooks.

 Functional view of Mullins

Figure 1: Functional view of Mullins. (Source: AMD)

AMD is also touting improved power system capability per watt and an average 38 per cent reduction in energy leakage in the APUs. Beema tops out at 15W, a 20 per cent power reduction at the SoC level, AMD said, while the Mullins APUs (in A4 and A10 series) reach 4.5W TDP (thermal design power) and 2.8W SDP (scenario design power). Improvements in power consumption allow for nearly twice the system productivity, AMD Platform Design Engineer Ben Bates said.

"Last year our high end products scaled up to 8 total watts of power," he added. "[With Mullins] we're delivering the same experience at roughly half of the power level... enabling more aggressive form factors."

Improvements in power consumption are partially due to a silicon temperature tracking algorithm that allows for better management of the phone's skin. Samuel Naffziger, AMD Corporate and IEEE fellow, said such temperature management can enable up to 63 per cent performance increases on key workloads.

Energy savings also come from non-APU components able to complete basic tasks quickly, compensating for extra energy expensed when running the CPU core faster. Additionally, increased memory support from lower-power DDR3-1866 allow the chips to be used in high performance fanless tablets.

"The total system power is actually lower when the CPU runs faster because the rest of the system spends a lot of time asleep," Naffzinger said. "The key to exploit this is to have a power manager that can pinpoint that lowest power."

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