AMD’s next-gen Kaveri APU requires new socket FM2+ for PC

AMD 2013 product header

A leaked roadmap from AMD suggests that their new APU, codenamed Kaveri, may launch together with a new socket.

AMD has had a long history of supporting various processors on different chipsets. AM2+ motherboards can support AM2, AM2+ and some AM3 processors and  AM3+ boards support AM3, AM3+ and some AM2+ processors. It’s been a given that if you buy a big name-brand board at the beginning of a new CPU family’s lifespan, chances are it’ll support the launching CPU family, the refresh of that and the ones designed for the next socket.

In 2011, AMD broke that tradition with their APU family. The first out of the gate, Llano, used socket FM1. FM1 is physically smaller than AM3+ and the new design was required for the advanced power savings and the enhancements AMD were feeding into their APUs. FM2, along with the new Trinity APUs, came along with socket FM2, breaking compatibility but bringing more performance and better power efficiency.

AMD 2013 updated APU roadmap

AMD 2013 updated APU roadmap

The updated roadmap now includes some additional information we’ve never had before, including the fact that Kaveri will launch on an as-yet-unannounced socket, FM2+. In the past, the “+” denoted compatibility with a previous CPU family and with FM2+, this may mean that Trinity and Richland APUs, built off the Piledriver architecture, should be compatible. Additionally, AMD has no plans to roll out Steamroller cores for the AM3+ socket this year.

Why would Kaveri need a new socket? One possibility is that the power efficiency may have been dramatically adjusted and as such requires a few things to change. Because the GPU is based on the same refreshed GCN design featured in the Kabini and Temash APUs, as well as the Sony PS4 and the Xbox One, in addition to AMD’s new low-cost Opteron lineup and (gosh, this is exhausting) the Radeon HD7790 and the upcoming mobile Radeon HD8790M.

The refreshed GCN cores support new low-power states as well as offer better variance in how the GPU works with AMD’s PowerTune boosting technology. PowerTune now scales clock speed according to heat and voltage, not, as in previous products, GPU load and electricity consumption.

Kaveri will offer an updated memory controller similar to Richland (now DDR3-2133 dual-channel support) as well as new HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) features that make using the GPU and CPU for the same workload an easier task. In addition, AMD has confirmed that you’ll be able to buy the same APU that’s featured inside the Playstation 4 for use as your own personal computer.

AMD will probably tell all at their keynote at Computex Taipei on the 4 June 2013.

Source: Tech Report

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  • Wesley Fick

    Ron’s comments were made in relation to Trinity and Richland, he makes no mention of Kaveri specifically. His statement is actually correct in that they’re sticking with FM2 for the future generation of Richland parts, but it makes no sense for AMD to maintain FM2 compatibility with Kaveri, as it requires power to different components in different ways.

    In addition, Kaveri has 901 pins on the chip itself, whereas Trinity/Richland uses all 904 pins on the FM2 socket. TechpowerUp’s senior editor, btarunr, added onto the Wikipedia page for FM2+ that the socket is backwards-compatible, but FM2 won’t support Kaveri. []

    In addition, there are articles on the net from writers who were at Computex supporting the claim that FM2+ is backwards-compatible. []

    Kaveri could easily have launched this past week and AMD has the silicon taped out and board manufacturers are ready. I assume they’re employing a different tactic to Llano, where they oversupplied the retail chain and had vendors sitting with stock they’ll never sell. This time, Richland is faster and uses less power than Trinity and will use up the boards available for FM2. Once FM2+ launches, Richland will get a major price drop and Kaveri will fill in the mainstream segment nicely.

  • Shane Nokes

    Watch the video again, and pay very close attention.

    The question asked was specifically about Kaveri.

  • Shane Nokes

    I’m honestly thinking that Ron got some details wrong when he said that.

    The pinout is indeed different. Hmm…here’s to hoping the board they send me is FM2+

  • Wesley Fick

    Ron’s a nice guy, but he’s part of the marketing and sales department, he’s not an engineer. He may have gotten it wrong about the compatibility because a number of other mistakes are in that video (saying that Richland uses GCN parts, for one, because the GPU is VLIW4-based).

    Richland does indeed use less power and produces less heat than Trinity and most people aren’t seeing that the A10-5800K is now equaled by the A10-6700, along with much less power draw under load to the tune of about 20W.

    I don’t think you’ll get a FM2+ board either, they’re not in retail yet. You may see them pop up in the next three or so months, or they’ll be available at the Kaveri launch which should be just before the PS4 and Xbox One go on sale, as AMD is probably going to milk the console connection for all its worth.