AMD Kabini: Athlon 5350 Desktop SoC

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AMD Athlon 5350: Entry Level Desktop SoC

April 17, 2014 by Lawrence Lee

AMD Athlon 5350
AM1 (FS1b) APU
Street Price

The evolution of AMD's APUs have been slow and steady, gradually gaining performance and energy efficiency with each generation. On the desktop side of things, the FM1 platform that started it all debuted in 2011 and since then AMD has gone through three architecture iterations, and two sockets. The first series of APUs also included a low power family, primarily to combat the dominance of Intel Atom chips in nettops/netbooks. Unfortunately, this line wasn't updated at all until last year when AMD moved to the 28 nm Jaguar APU architecture. Sadly there are still plenty of budget devices on the market still using the outdated technology primarily due to financial constraints.

Embedded versions of Jaguar power the Xbox One and PS4 and a variety of notebooks and SFF systems, but surprisingly AMD has developed a socketed upgradeable solution to desktop users. The new Kabini chips aren't just APUs, they are full SoC (system-on-chip) solutions with the chipset integrated as well so the FCH (Fusion Controller Hub) found on all other AMD desktop motherboards has been incorporated under the same hood. Consolidating processor design typically improves efficiency and cuts cost, making it a smart move, especially for an entry level product. The socket itself is technically called FS1b but AMD has chosen to dub the platform AM1. Another interesting nomenclature decision is the revival of the Sempron name for their low-end parts while the "high-end" chips are bestowed the coveted Athlon title.

AMD AM1 APU (Kabini) Comparison
Athlon 5350
Athlon 5150
Sempron 3850
Sempron 2650
CPU Cores
CPU Clock
2.05 GHz
1.60 GHz
1.30 GHz
1.45 GHz
L2 Cache
2 MB
1 MB
Memory Clock
GPU (R3)
HD 8400
HD 8280
HD 8240
Radeon Cores
GPU Clock
600 MHz
400 MHz

Price (Tray, 1Ku)

Street Price

Today we'll be testing the top-of-the-line Athlon 5350 which is surprisingly affordable, currently selling for just US$60. On the other end of the spectrum, the bottom-rung Sempron 2650 can be had for a mere US$35. The opening Kabini lineup includes both quad and dual core chips with clock speeds ranging from 1.30 to 2.05 GHz (no Turbo Core) though they all operate within a 25W thermal envelope. The four chips also have similar GCN graphics technology as Kaveri but with only 128 Radeon cores and slower clock speeds all around. Technically they all run "R3" graphics but different HD 8000 model names are used to delineate differences in core and memory frequency.

With the FCH jammed into the same die as the CPU and GPU, there isn't much real estate for a rich feature-set. AM1 supports only four PCI-E 2.0 lanes, single channel DDR3 up to 1600 MHz, two SATA 3/6 Gbps connections, and just two USB 3.0 ports.

Review package.

Under the stock cooler.

The Athlon 5350 has the same appearance as AMD's previous socketed chips but with a TDP of just 25W, the accompanying cooler is much smaller than previous stock units. The heatsink measures 55 x 55 x 22 mm (L x W x H) and the fan is a slim 50 mm model screwed on top with a 2 mm gap in-between, making the total height 39 mm. The FS1b socket has only two mounting holes with the cooler using a pair of pushpins (with completely removable pins) to lock it into place. While old AMD coolers are not backwards compatible, the new retention mechanism is more compact, which is a plus for smaller form factor boards.

We were provided with an ASUS AM1I-A to test the 5350, a mini-ITX model with two DDR3 slots, a pair of SATA 6 Gbps ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 4x slot (compatible with 16x cards), and HDMI and DVI outputs. The AM1I-A has a street price of just US$50 which actually makes it one of the more expensive AM1 models on the market while more stripped down mainboards can be had for close to US$30. AMD rounded out the package with just a single 4GB stick of their Radeon Entertainment Series DDR3 memory which is sufficient as the memory controller is only single channel.

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