Event Coverage

A Showcase of AMD Kaveri APU Powered Systems

By Vijay Anand - 8 Jan 2014

A Showcase of AMD Kaveri APU Powered Systems

How about a Kaveri Briefcase PC?

Kaveri Fits Just About Anywhere

Following the official launch of AMD's next-gen APU series codenamed Kaveri, we were given a quick round of hands-on time with some of these systems. Notable takeaway points from our trials are as follows:-

  • The top of the line A10-7850K Kaveri APU has enough horsepower to tackle most games at Full HD resolution with medium-level in-game quality settings. By this, we mean smooth gameplay at about 30 FPS or better.
  • One of the key design inputs from AMD's customers was for a powerful APU that can stomach compact form factors without thermal transfer issues. To that extent, AMD was all out showcasing small form factor systems with the A10-7850K Kaveri APU.

While small form factor systems are nothing new in this day and age, the point that AMD is emphasizing is the combination of CPU and GPU performance capabilities that the 95W TDP processor enables in that form factor - something the competition cannot yet deliver in that form factor and price point.

While tech enthusiasts such as us can appreciate this from a technical analysis standpoint, regular customers might not appreciate this even when pointed out because of the variety of small form factor system options available these days. Once a trend becomes commonplace, it takes more effort to see beyond the obvious. That we guess is where AMD needs to work on their marketing prowess to the average Joe.

The briefcase PC is actually a custom PC-mod. With the advent of SSD drives, couriering over a briefcase PC overseas is certainly a feasible idea.

Here's a close-up shot where you can tell it's an micro-ITX system build, complete with an integrated PSU and a sealed water cooling unit by Zalman.

The Kaveri Briefcase PC was fluid in Battlefield 4 gameplay.

This is another interesting Kaveri PC build in a small form factor, but this time, you're looking at a fully passively cooled system!

Notice the several ribs on the chassis that give it more heat dissipation area. If you're curious, the system was running hot and that's in a cool environment. We wouldn't recommend it in a tropical climate.

A more regular looking off-the-shelf SFF chassis from SilverStone.

AMD also showcased a system running an ultra high resolution video encoded on the new and upcoming HEVC standard (H.265).

Known as High Efficiency Video Codec, this requires more horsepower to process, but it can deliver higher quality videos than H.264 at any bitrate. The demo however wasn't very smooth, but that's because the software and drivers used to play this is still a work in progress and it's not fully optimized yet. Further to that, it's not a hardware accelerated codec on the Kaveri's UVD fixed function component. Hence the HEVC processing we saw was being processed at the software level. Once AMD has made further progress in software development to utilize the APU's HSA architecture, performance may yet improve. We'll have to revisit this when the ecosystem is more mature. For more reading on this matter, check out this previous article.

Full HD (1080p) HEVC decoding can be tackled by the Kaveri APU, but 4K HEVC decoding will require the additional assistance of an additional Radeon GPU of at least an entry-level add-on card.

Fancy playing Eidos' latest Theif instalment on 5 immersive screens? While the integrated GPU supports AMD Eyefinity, you'll need much more horsepower for this.

A Kaveri A10-7850 was powering the system, but it was augmented by a single Radeon 290X GPU. Once again, we found gameplay to be sufficiently smooth and it's surprising that only one additional GPU was required to pull this off.

Be warned though, once you try 5 screens, you'll never want to go back!

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