— June 19, 2014
AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced its goal to deliver a 25x
improvement in the energy efficiency of its Accelerated Processing Units (APUs)
by 2020,1 Details including innovations that will produce the
expected efficiency gains were presented today by AMD’s Chief Technology
Officer Mark Papermaster during a keynote at the China International
Software and Service Fair (CISIS) conference in Dalian, China. The “25X20”
target  is a substantial increase
compared to the prior six years (2008 to 2014), during which time AMD improved the
typical use energy efficiency of its products more than 10x.1
Worldwide, three billion personal
computers use more than one percent of all energy consumed annually, and 30
million computer servers use an additional 1.5 percent of all electricity
consumed at an annual cost of $14 billion to $18 billion USD. Expanded use of
the Internet, mobile devices, and interest in cloud-based video and audio content
in general is expected to result in all of those numbers increasing in future
“Creating differentiated low-power
products is a key element of our business strategy, with an attending relentless
focus on energy efficiency,” said 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.”
“The energy efficiency of information
technology has improved at a rapid pace since the beginning of the computer
age, and innovations in semiconductor technologies continue to open up new
possibilities for higher efficiency,” said Dr. Jonathan Koomey, research fellow
at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford
University. “AMD has steadily improved the energy efficiency of its mobile
processors, having achieved greater than a 10-fold improvement over the last
six years in typical-use energy efficiency.  AMD’s focus on improving typical power
efficiency will likely yield significant consumer benefits substantially improving
real-world battery life and performance for mobile devices.  AMD’s technology plans show every promise of
yielding about a 25-fold improvement in typical-use energy efficiency for
mobile devices over the next six years, a pace that substantially exceeds
historical rates of growth in peak output energy efficiency.  This would
be achieved through both performance gains and rapid reductions in the
typical-use power of processors. In addition to the benefits of increased performance,
the efficiency gains help to extend battery life, enable development of smaller
and less material intensive devices, and limit the overall environmental impact
of increased numbers of computing devices.”
Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors capable of being built in a given area doubles roughly every two years. Dr. Koomey’s research demonstrates that historically, energy efficiency of processors has closely tracked the rate of improvement predicted by Moore’s Law.3  Through intelligent power management and APU architectural advances, in tandem with semiconductor manufacturing process technology improvements and a focused on typical use power, AMD’s expects its energy efficiency achievements to outpace the historical efficiency trend predicted by Moore’s law by at least 70 percent between 2014 and 2020. 
Architecting for Energy-Efficiency
Like advances in computing performance,
advances in power efficiency have historically come along with new generations
of silicon process technology that shrink the size of each individual
transistor. 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
  • Heterogeneous-computing and power optimization: Through
    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.  
Industry analyst firm TIRIAS Research recently
reviewed AMD’s methodology for measuring its energy efficiency and the plans to
achieve a 25x improvement by 2020 and produced a publicly-available white paper
detailing their analysis.  
“The goal of an energy-efficient
processor is to deliver more performance than the prior generation at the same
or less power,” said Kevin Krewell, analyst at TIRIAS Research. “AMD’s plan to
accelerate the energy-efficiency gains for its mobile-computing processors is
impressive. We believe that AMD will achieve its energy efficiency goal, partially
through process improvement but mostly by combining the saving from reducing
idle power, the performance boost of heterogeneous system architecture, and through
more intelligent power management. With this undertaking, AMD demonstrates
leadership in the computing industry, driving innovations for a more
energy-efficient future.”
Supporting Resources
Research white paper
Become a fan of AMD on Facebook
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