Kaveri is AMD’s first heterogeneous APU, but the name itself has its roots in the Indian mythology.
To most of the Western world, the name Kaveri is eponymous with AMD’s third-generation APUs. However, the name has its roots in the Indian mythology, where Kaveri is portrayed as a goddess. Similarly, Beema, the codename for AMD’s mobile APUs, is taken from Bhima, one of the fiercest warriors in the Mahabharata.
AMD’s tradition in naming its architectures after rivers isn’t anything new, as Trinity, Llana and Kabini are all names of rivers.
But what is the story behind these names?
The story of Kaveri
According to Indian mythology, Kaveri was originally called Lopamudra, and was one of the apsaras (damsels) in the court of Lord Vishnu. The story goes back to the creation of time, where the gods and the demons were churning the oceans to find amrita (the elixir of life). Lord Vishnu, in a bid to not let the demons access the elixir, transforms into Mohini, an enchantress of infinite beauty to distract the demons. To aid Vishnu’s Mohini incarnation, his consort Goddess Lakshmi sends Lopamudra along.
After the battle, Lopamudra consigns herself to Brahmagiri hills, an arid land devoid of any vegetation where she takes on the form of a rock. Eons later, a sage by the name Kavera visits the hills to pray to Lord Brahma for a child. Pleased with the sage’s devotion, Brahma gives him Lopamudra for a daughter, at which time she takes on the form of a girl and the name Kaveri, after the king.
Growing up with the sage, Kaveri is distraught to see the state of the region, and resolves to fix the issue. She heads back to Brahmagiri and starts praying to Brahma that she might become a river and flow through the land, turning the terrain green and fertile. Before she could finish her meditation, a sage by name of Agastya chances upon her and instantly falls in love.
Agastya immediately heads to Kavera to ask for Kaveri’s hand in marriage. Reluctant to deny one of the Sapta Rishis, who are considered to be the holiest of sages, he agrees. Similarly, Kaveri, not one to go against her faster’s wishes, also relents, but on a condition: That Agastya never leave her alone. If he does so, she would be allowed to turn into a river.
Agastya yields to the request and they get married. Soon after, he gets absorbed in a theological discussion, losing track of time. Kaveri, after waiting patiently for a while, decides that she is not beholden to Agastya anymore, and turns into a river, flowing down the hills of Talacauvery. To Agastya’s disciples, she goes underground, only to appear again at Bhaganda Kshetra and continuing onward into the Bay of Bengal.
Ever since, Kaveri has been worshipped as a sacred river. To this day, millions of pilgrims flock to the banks of the river to wash away their sins.
The mighty warrior Bhima
Bhima is considered to be one of the mightiest warriors to have ever existed. One of the five Pandava brothers, Bhima’s strength and courage is heavily illustrated in Mahabharata, a major Indian mythology.
As the story goes, king Pandu, ruler of Hastinapura, is unable to foster children owing to a curse placed upon him by a sage. With no solution in sight, his wife, Kunti, who has been granted the ability to invoke the gods as a child, decides to use her boons to pray for children. Bhima, as a result, is born when Kunti invokes Vayu, the god of wind. In total, she gives birth to five sons, who are called Pandavas, after king Pandu.
From a young age, the five brothers are taught science, astronomy and military tactics by Dronacharya, considered to be one of the wisest sages in existence. Bhima was the strongest and the fiercest of the Pandavas, but it wasn’t until one of the Kauravas, the Pandavas’ arch enemies, tries to kill him that he finds his abilities.
The story goes that Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, plotted to kill Bhima by poisoning his food and drowning him in the river Ganga. However, the king of snakes, Vasuki, comes to the aid of Bhima, rescuing him from the river and bestowing upon him the strength of a thousand elephants.
It is this strength that is portrayed throughout the Mahabharata. Following the exile of the Pandavas after they’re tricked out of the throne by the Kauravas, Bhima becomes their protector, slaying demons like Bakasura and Jatasura during their stay in the Virata kingdom.
Bhima’s role in the battle of Kurukshetra, the final battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, is pivotal. He is credited with killing all of the 100 Kauravas brothers over the course of the 15 day battle, along with Duryodhana. After the war, Bhima is anointed the custodian of Hastinapura by his elder brother Yudhistir.
Capturing the spirit
By naming its latest APU line Kaveri, AMD is looking to “wash away” its sins; its earlier efforts in this area with Llano and Trinity have largely failed. While Llana was praised for its GPU performance, its CPU was a let-down. With Trinity, AMD brought forth CPU-related enhancements, but wasn’t able to gain traction.
All that has since changed with the introduction of Kaveri and the Steamroller architecture, which for the first time brings hUMA and HSA into the fold. Whether AMD manages to succeed with Kaveri is still an unknown at this stage, but it at least shows that the manufacturer is heading in the right direction.
As for Beema, the line of SoCs targeted at notebooks with low power consumption, AMD has largely failed to ingratiate the warrior spirit of Bhima. Said to be an evolution of the Jaguar architecture, AMD has managed to fins hardware wins with Beema (more so than Mullins anyway), but the form factors and the devices it is being utilized in will make it a tough sell for mainstream consumers.
A major factor behind the irrelevance encountered by Beema stems from the fact that it does not feature any architectural advantages over Kabini and Temash, although AMD has claimed numerous performance gains. While Beema is a commendable effort, the lack of any significant hardware wins is its biggest failing.