Published in PC Hardware

AMD’s first 20nm APU is Nolan

by on19 May 2014

2015 launch

AMD is serious about getting into tablets and thin and light notebooks. The launch of Beema and Mullins APUs is just an example that things are getting better and we expect to see some Beema designs at Computex 2014, in the first week of June. 

Beema replaces Kabini and it comes with four Puma plus cores, next generation Radeon graphics and supports HSA. The decision to include HSA support is a big deal, as getting a compute component in this market has potential. Inexpensive tablets and notebooks with additional parallel capabilities could be a sales booster for AMD.

Building on low-end APU success 

AMD has been doing well in this market for the past couple of years and we hope Beema will be yet another successful product. AMD has some key players on its side, such as HP, Lenovo and Dell. These companies traditionally had a lot of AMD design wins in the entry level market.

Beema’s replacement comes in 2015 and the chip, codenamed Nolan, is the company’s first 20nm APU. The chip has a new core based and it will use the new 20nm manufacturing process. It will use the same socket as Beema and relies on FT3 BGA packaging and socket. We expect that connected standby gets even better with Nolan and Beema is the first AMD platform to bring this nice feature to the tablet and essential market.

Going down to 20nm from 28nm you can expect that the chip will be able to give you more performance with less power, idle power will go down, battery life will increase. First we need to see what can AMD do with Beema as the A6 6310, A4 6210 and E2 6110 could do well in 15W TDP mainstream notebooks, while the E1 6010 dual-core clocked at 1.35GHz will fit nicely in some sub-10W TDP notebooks, or hybrids. However, it's not just the transition to 20nm. AMD made some impressive tweaks to Beema and Mullins, significantly cutting power consumption on the 28nm node. These lessons will be applied to 20nm products. 

Competitive tablet parts but...

AMD has three more tablet chips. A10 Micro 6700T and A4 Micro 6400T are both quad-cores clocked at 1.2GHz and 1.0GHz respectively and have 2MB cache, Radeon R6 and R3 graphics and both have a 4.5W TDP. AMD claims that they operate under 2.8 W SPD (standard design power) and that this should be an average consumption for most of the tasks. A10 Micro 6700T maximum turbo frequency goes as high as 2.2 GHz while A4 Micro 6400T stops at 1.6GHz. The last of the tablet chips is dual core E1 Micro 6200T clocked at 1GHz with max turbo clock of 1.4GHz, 1MB cache, Radeon R2 graphics clocked at 300W. The chip has a 3.95W TDP and the same 2.8W SDP as its more powerful siblings.

The new parts look very promising, according to early tests such as Anand’s performance preview.

It remains to be seen if the gaming tablet strategy will work out well, but reference tablet we saw on Mobile World Congress 2014 looks quite promising. With Beema AMD can offer Intel’s Bay Trail customers a healthy alternative probably at the same price if not a bit more affordable. With 20nm Nolan, if all goes well, things might look even better. However, Intel's contra-revenue programme has tilted the table and AMD simply cannot afford to burn money on subisidies. 

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