AMD A10-7850K Kaveri: The Linux Introduction
The AMD A10-7850K is the high-end Kaveri model with 12 compute cores (4 CPU + 8 GPU), a 3.7GHz base frequency with 4.0GHz Turbo frequency, 4MB of L2 cache, and 720MHz GPU frequency for the Radeon R7 Graphics. The A10-7700K that's also launching today is a step-down with a 3.4GHz base frequency and 3.8GHz Turbo frequency, but it too features Radeon R7 graphics clocked at 720MHz. The A8-7600 is the other new Kaveri APU today and it's running at a 3.3GHz base frequency with 3.8GHz Turbo frequency.
On the graphics front, AMD claims the Kaveri A10-7850K performance is 87% faster than the Core i5 4670K and 36% faster than the A10-6800K. AMD also has declared big performance wins with Kaveri when it comes to games using their Mantle API over DirectX or OpenGL, but sadly there's still no Linux Mantle support. The Kaveri APU's graphics cores are of the GCN 1.1 "Volcanic Islands" family with support for AMD TrueAudio, 4K display support, and the other Volcanic Islands GPU improvements over earlier generations.
Kaveri also introduces a new feature of a configurable TDP. The A10-7850K has a 95 Watt TDP by default, but from the BIOS/UEFI it's possible to drop the APU down to running at a 45 Watt TDP but at the cost of reduced performance. The configurable TDP feature works on any Kaveri APU but AMD only has optimized it for the low-end A8-7600. Kaveri also comes with the new FM2+ platform that is backwards compatible (assuming compatible motherboard firmware), supports AMD Memory Profiles up to DDR3-2400MHz frequencies, and supports AMD Dual Graphics with AMD Radeon R7 graphics cards.
AMD is marketing Kaveri as having great overclocking potential. With that they are also promoting OverDrive for handling the overclocking, "AMD OverDrive is one utility that has continually lowered the barrier to entry for APU overclocking. It provides the distinct advantage to modify clock speeds and voltages from the comfort of the Windows environment. There is no longer a need for frequent system rebooting or scouring the Internet for an accurate CPU and GPU temperature tracking utility. Fan control and testing of stability can also be done within the AMD OverDrive utility. It all comes together to form a fully-featured package alluding to our all-in-one message for the Kaveri APU platform – overclocking with Kaveri could not come any easier." While that's nice for AMD Windows customers, the OverDrive utility has been around for years and there still is no Linux equivalent -- either from AMD themselves or the open-source community. Those doing AMD APU overclocking on Linux are still bound to the tunables from the UEFI interface.
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