First and foremost, the new A-series accelerated processing units (APUs) in the Kaveri family will be the first AMD processors to leverage heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access (hUMA) to make it much, much easier for developers to code software that take advantage of parallel processing. In overly simplified terms, hUMA makes it possible for the graphics processing cores inside the APU to handle the same workload as the traditional CPU cores. Bottom line, developers will now be able to deliver apps that run dramatically faster without needing to learn complex coding language to do it … meaning the applications we run on a Kaveri APU should run very fast.
The changes delivered by hUMA are so profound that AMD now wants to stop talking about “CPU cores” and “GPU cores” on these latest APUs; they are simply “compute cores.” AMD thinks this makes it much easier for people to understand that graphics cores aren’t just for graphics anymore. Modern applications should be able to leverage both types of cores to accomplish everything from speeding up calculations in spreadsheets to upscaling 1080p video for playback on 4K displays.
In fact, many existing applications that run OpenCL (such as Photoshop) will notice performance boosts with Kaveri even before software developers tweak the code. AMD’s internal lab testing shows that the new A-series processors deliver substantially higher benchmark scores in PCMark 8 and 3DMark compared to Intel’s Core i5 processors. Sure, Intel also offers premium Core i7 chips, but the new A-series Kaveri processors will retail for less than the price of Intel’s Core i5 chips but still deliver significantly better performance across the board.
Another big advantage that the Kaveri line of A-series processors bring to the table is AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) technology and Mantle; the same Radeon graphics technology inside both the new Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One gaming consoles. This means game developers won’t have to waste precious time and effort recoding games to run on both PCs and consoles … well, at least developers won’t have to work as hard on PCs running Kaveri chips and modern Radeon graphics.
The first two desktop versions of the Kaveri A-series processors, the A10-7850K and A10-7700K, are both available for pre-order today with the first chips expected to ship to consumers on January 14th.