It’s easy to look around and see the amazing societal benefits from the explosion of computing over the last twenty years. For example, advancements in medical computing have decreased the time taken for DNA sequencing, allowing doctors to more quickly identify which drug would work best against certain types of cancers. Along with this explosion, the energy consumption and environmental footprint from computing has increased. This is a challenge that affects all of us, and the brains of the computer – the microprocessor – is an important part of the total equation.
In the past, processor designers could rely heavily on the mechanics of Moore’s Law to provide regular leaps in computing power and energy efficiency. But the steady improvements from better manufacturing processes and size shrinks predicted by Moore’s Law have slowed in recent years, largely because transistors are now so small they are running into fundamental limits of physics that drive costly processing. Moving forward, much of the new gains will likely come from innovative chip designs.
At AMD, energy efficiency has long been a key product design focus for our microprocessors, including our APUs, CPUs and GPUs. In June 2014 we announced our goal for a 25 times improvement in energy efficiency of our mobile APUs by 2020. That was, and is, a stretch goal considering that from 2009 to 2014 we achieved a 10 times improvement. We thought 10x was pretty good, but in 2014 we set our sights even higher.
At the two-year mark, I’m pleased to report we are on track toward achieving our 25x20 goal. And in the process our latest chips have dramatically improved in computing performance as well as energy efficiency¹.
These gains are no small achievement. In fact, our progress on energy efficiency was honored this week by Environmental Leader with a Project of The Year award. The judges viewed our 25x20 vision as “ambitious and audacious” and noted that the project has already demonstrated strong progress. Among the results, so far, is a 50 percent decrease in the carbon footprint of systems built around our 6th generation A-Series processors.
AMD continues to achieve these leaps in energy efficiency by focusing on numerous design enhancements, improved transistor density, and system level efficiency optimizations that result in power and performance improvements. These are detailed in our white paper, describing AMD’s commitment to energy efficiency. For example, our 6th generation A-Series processor introduced in 2015 was 2.4 times more energy efficient than its 2014 predecessor. And the recent introduction of our new 7th generation A-Series processor in 2016 – code named “Bristol Ridge” – adds an additional 14 percent improvement. Taken together, at the two-year mark, we are solidly above the trend line needed to achieve our goal of 25 times energy efficiency improvement by 2020².
In addition to our mobile APUs, we’re also making important strides in the energy efficiency of our GPU technology. With similar engineering advancements in architecture and power management, plus a boost from next generation process technology, AMD’s upcoming “Polaris” GPUs are on target to at least double the performance per watt over previous generations³.
We have more ground to cover to reach our 25x20 goal but we remain confident we are taking the right steps to meet this ambitious target. Look for additional reports on our progress and the energy efficient innovations coming up that will help get us to the goal line.
Mark Papermaster is CTO and SVP for Technology & Engineering at AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.
1) Typical-use Energy Efficiency as defined by taking the ratio of compute capability as measured by common performance measures such as SpecIntRate, PassMark and PCMark, divided by typical energy use as defined by ETEC (Typical Energy Consumption for notebook computers) as specified in Energy Star Program Requirements Rev 6.0 10/2013. “Kaveri” relative compute capability (4.5) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.45) of baseline = 10X. "Carrizo” relative compute capability (6.0) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.22) of baseline = 27.4X (which is 2.7x that of “Kaveri”). “Bristol Ridge” relative compute capability (6.9) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.18) of baseline = 38.5X (which is 3.8x that of “Kaveri”).
2) Typical-use Energy Efficiency as defined by taking the ration of compute capability as measured by common performance measures such as SpecIntRate, PassMark and PCMark, divided by typical energy use as defined by ETEC (Typical Energy Consumption for notebook computers) as specified in Energy Star Program Requirements Rev 6.0 10/2013. “Kaveri” relative compute capability (4.5) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.45) of baseline = 10X. “Carrizo” relative compute capability (6.0) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.22) of baseline = 27.4X (which is 2.5x that of “Kaveri”), “Bristol Ridge” relative compute capability (6.9) of baseline divided by relative energy efficiency (0.18) of baseline = 38.3X (Which is 3.4x that of “Kaveri”).
3) Testing conducted by AMD internal labs as of Dec 15, 2015 with AMD’s previous “Hawaii” and “Bonaire” architecture based platforms and preliminary “Polaris” architecture based engineering sample. Systems tested with Intel i7-4770K with 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Driver 15.30 beta, Windows 10 64bit running a “Perlin Noise” benchmark measured in fps. AMD’s "Hawaii" based platform averaged 377 fps at 1000 MHz while consuming 195.4 W, resulting in 1.9 frames per watt. AMD’s "Bonaire" platform averaged 131.4 fps at 1015 MHz while consuming 71.6 W, resulting in 1.8 frames per watt. Preliminary engineering data showed AMD’s Polaris architecture based engineering sample as resulting in more than 2x the performance per watt as compared to “Hawaii” and “Bonaire” based platforms in this testing. POL-2