This week AMD announced its goal to deliver a 25x improvement in the energy efficiency of its Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) by 2020.
Creating differentiated low-power products is a key element of our business strategy, with an attending relentless focus on energy efficiency,” said AMD CTO Mark Papermaster. “Through APU architectural enhancements and intelligent power efficient techniques, our customers can expect to see us dramatically improve the energy efficiency of our processors during the next several years. Setting a goal to improve the energy efficiency of our processors 25 times by 2020 is a measure of our commitment and confidence in our approach.”
AMD expects to outpace the power efficiency gains expected from process technology transitions through 2020 for typical use based on successfully executing three central pillars of the company’s energy efficient design strategy:
- Heterogeneous-computing and power optimization: Through Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA), AMD combines CPU and GPU compute cores and special purpose accelerators such as digital signal processors and video encoders on the same chip in the form of APUs. This innovation from AMD saves energy by eliminating connections between discrete chips, reduces computing cycles by treating the CPU and GPU as peers, and enables the seamless shift of computing workloads to the optimal processing component. The result is improved energy efficiency and accelerated performance for common workloads, including standard office applications as well as emerging visually oriented and interactive workloads such as natural user interfaces and image and speech recognition. AMD provides APUs with HSA features to the embedded, server and client device markets, and its semi-custom APUs are inside the new generation of game consoles.
- Intelligent, real-time power management: Most computing operation is characterized by idle time, the interval between keystrokes, touch inputs or time reviewing displayed content. Executing tasks as quickly as possible to hasten a return to idle, and then minimizing the power used at idle is extremely important for managing energy consumption. Most consumer-oriented tasks such as web browsing, office document editing, and photo editing benefit from this “race to idle” behavior. The latest AMD APUs perform real-time analysis on the workload and applications, dynamically adjusting clock speed to achieve optimal throughput rates. Similarly, AMD offers platform aware power management where the processor can overclock to quickly get the job done, then drop back into low-power idle mode.
- Future innovations in power-efficiency: Improvements in efficiency require technology development that takes many years to complete. AMD recognized the need for energy efficiency years ago and made the research investments that have since led to high impact features. Going forward, many differentiating capabilities such as inter-frame power gating, per-part adaptive voltage, voltage islands, further integration of system components, and other techniques still in the development stage should yield accelerated gains.