AMD's latest financial reports prove that the company has been shipping less desktop processors with each passing quarter. There's nothing particularly unexpected about this trend. AMD's processor architectures have been developing in such a way as to make AMD's products less interesting for desktop users.
We don’t have to look far for examples. AMD’s flagship FX series has long ceased to develop, so it is now inferior to Intel’s offers and has downright outdated specs. Midrange hybrid processors from AMD are oriented at mobile solutions. Their desktop versions, although updated regularly, are niche products for a limited scope of applications. The recently released Kaveri-based desktop APUs even turn out to be slower than their predecessors, which doesn’t help them get any more attractive in the end-user’s eyes. Quite expectedly, even loyal AMD fans start to rethink their allegiance, especially as the manufacturer doesn’t give them any hope for any changes in the situation.
There are no high-performance processors on AMD’s plans whereas the company’s upcoming APUs will likely be optimized in terms of power consumption rather than speed. That said, AMD still has some technologies that can be potentially used for desktop processors. Besides the family of Bulldozer-related designs, which is currently represented by the Steamroller microarchitecture, AMD has the Bobcat design, later developed into what is codenamed Jaguar.
While the Bulldozer was being perfected in terms of energy efficiency (and becoming slower in the process), the Bobcat/Jaguar microarchitecture was energy-efficient to start with, so it could be perfected in terms of speed. AMD has achieved some success on this road. Originally targeted at inexpensive and low-performance gadgets like netbooks and nettops, the Jaguar design eventually made it into gaming consoles, which are a higher class of products. Thanks to that, AMD has got a long-term contract and improved its reputation as a maker of competitive processors. Building on this success, the company now wants the Jaguar to become recognized on the market of desktop PCs as well.
Based on the Jaguar microarchitecture, Kabini series processors have long been used in mobile computers, actually. AMD thinks they may also be optimal for compact desktop computers if their functionality is up to the mark. To make full-featured desktop processors out of them, AMD has developed a new ecosystem, known as Socket AM1, and prepared a whole new model range.
AMD claims that the Socket AM1 platform is so affordable that it can become a real bestseller in the entry-level market segment. Affordable computers are said to be hugely popular on the developing markets, so AMD thinks that the desktop Jaguar-based processors are going to be a hit in Latin America.
As a matter of fact, the Kabini is not something really new. Such processors have been available for over a year and there were no obstacles to introducing them into desktop PCs. Few people wanted to do so, though. Mainboard makers had to develop their own product designs to support the Kabini whereas the demand for such solutions was uncertain. But things are different now. Thanks to the gaming consoles, Jaguar-based processors have become more interesting for end-users whereas AMD has voiced its intention to collaborate with mainboard manufacturers and promote the Socket AM1 platform. It means that Socket AM1 mainboards and processors will become widely available in the near future – and at most attractive prices. It is for buyers who are going to be lured by that low pricing that we want to test the new Kabini and check out their practical worth in this review.