AMD Pre-Announces 7th Gen A-Series SOC

Subject: Processors | April 5, 2016 - 06:30 AM |
Tagged: mobile, hp, GCN, envy, ddr4, carrizo, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd, AM4

Today AMD is “pre-announcing” their latest 7th generation APU.  Codenamed “Bristol Ridge”, this new SOC is based off of the Excavator architecture featured in the previous Carrizo series of products.  AMD provided very few hints as to what was new and different in Bristol Ridge as compared to Carrizo, but they have provided a few nice hints.

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They were able to provide a die shot of the new Bristol Ridge APU and there are some interesting differences between it and the previous Carrizo. Unfortunately, there really are no changes that we can see from this shot. Those new functional units that you are tempted to speculate about? For some reason AMD decided to widen out the shot of this die. Those extra units around the border? They are the adjacent dies on the wafer. I was bamboozled at first, but happily Marc Sauter pointed it out to me. No new functional units for you!

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This is the Carrizo shot. It is functionally identical to what we see with Bristol Ridge.

AMD appears to be using the same 28 nm HKMG process from GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  This is not going to give AMD much of a jump, but from information in the industry GLOBALFOUNDRIES and others have put an impressive amount of work into several generations of 28 nm products.  TSMC is on their third iteration which has improved power and clock capabilities on that node.  GLOBALFOUNDRIES has continued to improve their particular process and likely Bristol Ridge is going to be the last APU built on that node.

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All of the competing chips are rated at 15 watts TDP. Intel has the compute advantage, but AMD is cleaning up when it comes to graphics.

The company has also continued to improve upon their power gating and clocking technologies to keep TDPs low, yet performance high.  AMD recently released the Godavari APUs to the market which exhibit better clocking and power characteristics from the previous Kaveri.  Little was done on the actual design, rather it was improved process tech as well as better clock control algorithms that achieved these advances.  It appears as though AMD has continued this trend with Bristol Ridge.

We likely are not seeing per clock increases, but rather higher and longer sustained clockspeeds providing the performance boost that we are seeing between Carrizo and Bristol Ridge.  In these benchmarks AMD is using 15 watt TDP products.  These are mobile chips and any power improvements will show off significant gains in overall performance.  Bristol Ridge is still a native quad core part with what looks to be an 8 module GCN unit.

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Again with all three products at a 15 watt TDP we can see that AMD is squeezing every bit of performance it can with the 28 nm process and their Excavator based design.

The basic core and GPU design look relatively unchanged, but obviously there were a lot of tweaks applied to give the better performance at comparable TDPs.  

AMD is announcing this along with the first product that will feature this APU.  The HP Envy X360.  This convertible tablet offers some very nice features and looks to be one of the better implementations that AMD has seen using its latest APUs.  Carrizo had some wins, but taking marketshare back from Intel in the mobile space has been tortuous at best. AMD obviously hopes that Bristol Ridge in the sub-35 watt range will continue to show fight for the company in this important market.  Perhaps one of the more interesting features is the option for the PCIe SSD.  Hopefully AMD will send out a few samples so we can see what a more “premium” type convertible can do with the AMD silicon.

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The HP Envy X360 convertible in all of its glory.

Bristol Ridge will be coming to the AM4 socket infrastructure in what appears to be a Computex timeframe.  These parts will of course feature higher TDPs than what we are seeing here with the 15 watt unit that was tested.  It seems at that time AMD will announce the full lineup from top to bottom and start seeding the market with AM4 boards that will eventually house the “Zen” CPUs that will show up in late 2016.

Source: AMD

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April 5, 2016 | 07:36 AM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

Josh, great coverage as usual

...still, what's this pre-announces thing, they have announced it - there it is in the slides; they talked about it, it's announced it is going to exist, so that's announced not pre-announced.

Then they'll announce, pre-release, release, paper-launch, hard launch, available...

April 5, 2016 | 09:04 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Don't ask me why AMD is going this route.  It is essentially Carrizo, but given the Godavari treatment.  Son... I am disappoint.

April 5, 2016 | 09:32 AM - Posted by Gadgety1 (not verified)

Yes, their marketing department works hard do justify their salaries. I got the A8-7600 and remember it was launched, reviewed, delayed, relaunched, unavailable, etc for about seven or eight months before I could actually buy it.

April 5, 2016 | 11:06 AM - Posted by JohnGR

I had it on my program to buy that specific APU. But they probably knew that this APU was perfect for the job, so only few would be going for the more expensive versions of 7700K and 7850K. What do you do when the cheap product is the best value? You delay it.

I didn't waited as long as you. I bought an AM1. Instead of replacing my every day AM3 system with an FM2+, I replaced the AM3 system in my living room with an AM1.

Thanks to AMD's stupidity with all that A8 7600 delay, I have to say that I managed to avoid Bulldozed processors completely. From AM3 to AM1 and Zen. No bulldozer for me. :D

April 5, 2016 | 08:19 AM - Posted by [CoFR]Prodeous (not verified)

Why didn't they release an 8 core FX with GPU... I need more cores... Please...

Josh.. good article. and like dragosmp mentioned, why is this a pre-announcement? will there be an event when they do the actual announcement?

@AMD... give me more cores... Please.

April 5, 2016 | 09:04 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Gonna have to wait for Zen before a new 8 core product.  They look to announce the full lineup at Computex this year.

April 5, 2016 | 09:31 AM - Posted by [CoFR]Prodeous (not verified)

With end of May announcement, availability world wide (especially here in Poland) is going to lag a few(?) months, almost at the heals of Zen...

I guess I'll keep saving and see what happens..

Either way, can't wait to see PCPer's Perspective ;) on AM4 and 7th Gen A-Series.

Wondering if you guys are planning to do a review of the 845 Excavator AM3+ review? To kind of show what we might expect (outside of the 8 PCIe lanes that is)

April 5, 2016 | 09:35 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I'm working on a Godavari refresh review.  So far no 845 on FM2+.  AM4 is going to be interesting... we hope.

April 5, 2016 | 09:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Gotta love it when PP slides have spellcheck enabled.

April 5, 2016 | 10:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD has some 35 watt Bristol Ridge SKUs the FX-9830P / Pro A12-9830B is 35 watts, so maybe some better laptops will use this part at 35 watts with DDR4 memory options. Hopefully in a Lenovo Y700 refresh paired with polaris discrete mobile graphics. Also more compute can be done on on AMD's APU/ACE units so maybe Intel has the lead in CPU IPC but what about AMD having HSA 1.0 ability for GPU acceleration of compute workloads, even libreoffice uses GPU compute to accelerate some workloads.

maybe there needs to be more HSA style compute benchmarking done to measure a APU's/SOC's ability to accelerate more on the GPU. Intel does not yet use unified memory addressing on its SOCs so workloads that target UMA/HSA types of workloads should be run. DX12/Vulkan workloads and compute workloads on AMD's APU ACE units.

April 5, 2016 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When do we expect these cpus to come out?

April 5, 2016 | 05:53 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Computex... so early June.

April 5, 2016 | 11:11 AM - Posted by Neon

AMD: Our hints may be few in number, but we make it up in niceness.

April 5, 2016 | 02:18 PM - Posted by ZoranICS

Dear AMD, a 12CU, 25W AM1 part with 1866MHz DDR3 support would be very nice. Thanks :)

April 5, 2016 | 03:28 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

Once again, AMD isn't being competitive. What is with all the rehash of existing products, and just renaming the same products? And then in turn trying to sell them as new? Ugh. It is so maddening. AMD hasn't had it together since their huge blunder in 2006 with buying ATI for way more than it was actually worth.

April 9, 2016 | 03:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD is just trying to finish off the dies it already has on the pipeline by optimizing the 28NM parts as much as they can. By the end of the line, we will get heavily optimized chips at 28NM with better On chip graphic performance & improved CPI IPC's.

Lets wait and see what comes out rather than speculating on what is not out yet.

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