AMD Teases Ryzen Mobile APUs with Zen CPU Cores and On-Die Vega Graphics

Subject: Processors | May 18, 2017 - 01:01 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen mobile, ryzen, raven ridge, APU, amd

AMD teased its upcoming Zen-based APUs aimed at mobile devices during its Financial Analyst Day where the company revealed the "Raven Ridge" parts will be aptly known as Ryzen Mobile. The Tech Report managed to acquire a couple slides which confirm some of the broader specifications and reveal how they stack up to AMD's latest Bristol Ridge A-Series APUs – at least as far as AMD's internal testing is concerned (which is to say not independently verified yet so take with a grain of salt).

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Ryzen Mobile appears to be the new consumer-facing brand name for what has so far been code named "Raven Ridge". These parts will use a Zen-based CPU, Vega GPU, and integrated chipset. Thanks to the slides, it is now confirmed that the Vega-based graphics processor will be on-die. What has not been confirmed is whether the chipset will be on die or on package and exact specifications on CPU cores counts, GPU Compute Units, cache, memory support, and I/O like PCI-E lanes (you know, all the good stuff! heh). Note that rumors so far point towards Raven Ridge / Ryzen Mobile utilizing a single 4-core (8-thread) CCX, per core L2, 8MB shared L3 cache, and a Vega-based GPU with 1024 cores. HBM2 has also been rumored for awhile but we will have to wait for more leaks and/or an official announcement to know for sure if these Ryzen Mobile parts aimed for the second half of 2017 will have that (hopefully!).

With that said, according to AMD, Ryzen Mobile will offer up to 50% better CPU performance, 40% better GPU performance, and will use up to 50% less power than the previous 7th generation (Excavator-based) A-Series APUs (e.g. FX 9830P and A12-9730P). Those are some pretty bold claims, but still within the realm of possibility. Zen and Vega are both much more efficient architectures and AMD is also benefiting from a smaller process node (TSMC 28nm vs Samsung / GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET). I do wonder how high the APUs will be able to clock on the CPU side of things with 4 GHz seeming to be the wall for most Zen-based Summit Ridge chips, so most of the CPU performance improvement claims will have to come from architecture changes rather than increases in clockspeeds (the highest clocked A-Series Bristol Ridge ran at up to 3.7 GHz and I would expect Raven Ridge to be around that, maybe the flagship part turbo-ing a bit more). Raven Ridge will benefit from the shared L3 cache and, more importantly, twice as many threads (4 vs 8) and this may be where AMD is primarily getting that 50% more CPU performance number from. On the graphics side of things, it looks like Bristol Ridge with its R7 graphics (GCN 3 (Tonga/Fiji on the Desktop)) had up to 512 cores. Again, taking the rumors into account which say that Raven Ridge will have a 1024 core Vega GPU, this may be where AMD is getting the large performance increase from (the core increase as well as newer architecture). On the other hand, the 40% number could suggest Ryzen Mobile will not have twice the GPU cores. I would guess that 1024 might be possible, but running at lower clocks and that is where the discrepancy is. I will admit I am a bit skeptical about the 1024 (16 CU) number though because that is a huge jump... I guess we will see though!

Further, I am curious if Ryzen Mobile will use HBC (high bandwidth cache) and if HBM2 does turn out to be utilized how that will play into the HBC and whether or not we will finally see the fruits of AMD's HSA labors! I think we will see most systems use DDR4, but certainly some SKUs could use HBM2 and that would definitely open up a lot of performance possibilities on mobile!

There is still a lot that we do not know, but Ryzen Mobile is coming and AMD is making big promises that I hope it delivers on. The company is aiming the new chips at a wide swath of the mobile market from budget laptops and tablets to convertibles and even has their sights set on premium thin and lights. The mobile space is one where AMD has struggled with in getting design wins even when they had good parts for that type of system. They will really need to push and hit Ryzen Mobile out of the park to make inroads into the laptop, tablet, and ultrabook markets!

AMD plans to launch the consumer version of Ryzen Mobile in the second half of this year (presumably with systems featuring the new APUs out in time for the holidays if not for the back to school end of summer rush). The commercial SKUs (which I think refers to the Ryzen equivalent of AMD Pro series APUs.Update: Mobile Ryzen Pro) will follow in the first half of 2018.

What are your thoughts on Ryzen Mobile and the alleged performance and power characteristics? Do you think the rumors are looking more or less correct?

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Source: Tech Report

May 18, 2017 | 02:29 AM - Posted by djotter

I never even considered AMD when looking for a laptop, power efficiency just wasn't there. Ryzen Mobile looks promising though :)

May 18, 2017 | 09:30 AM - Posted by Xebec

2x gpu cores is quite plausible. New chip is 14nm old was 28nm; in theory 4x density. The Zen core is also more compact than Excavator..

May 18, 2017 | 12:05 PM - Posted by superj

These might be the first APUs that I'm actually interested in. A 4C/8T cpu with the gpu performance approaching a rx460 would be mighty tempting for a daily driver home PC.
My days of building expensive overkill desktops are over now that I have a bunch of young kids and no time anymore (or extra money).

May 18, 2017 | 12:35 PM - Posted by StephanS

I have been waiting for this.
Now, I'm sure Zen3 on 7nm+ and Navi would be much better, but I dont want to wait another 3 years for an upgrade :)
The only concern is if OEM do the same as they did with llano back in the days (and today with their flagship APU), AMD will have no decent laptop to offer even so they have look to be a superb SoC.

May 18, 2017 | 12:43 PM - Posted by goosegrease

I want to stay excited about APUs, but AMD clearly relies on confusion and obscurity to sell these things and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Take a look at AMD APU wikipedia page and see how many different flavours there are. A lot of them may carry similar numbers but with vastly different capabilities. In some cases, the next generation of products with higher numbers are slower than the new ones.

Most laptop manufacturers don't bother giving details beyond "A10 R7 graphics" etc which means nothing. You're lucky if you can find part/service manual pdf hidden somewhere in support page that lists
model number. This vastly reduces the pool of choices if you're looking for a specific APU.

And you finally find the APU you're hunting for, "sweet, 384 compute units" but upon purchase you realize there's only 320. There are multiple configurations of the same model id that are NOT listed on wikipedia! And guess which ones they're sending out to the reviewers?

So yeah - I really like the idea of an APU. AMD however is not interested in selling these things to informed consumers.

May 18, 2017 | 07:41 PM - Posted by James

Intel has a ridiculous number of mobile SKUs also, and the tag at the store is usually not very descriptive. This stuff isn't limited to AMD. They should have a more limited set of Ryzen parts initially. The previous generations were a mess since they were stuck on 28 nm for about 5 years. It was difficult to make an improved model. With Ryzen APUs, we will finally have 14 nm AMD integrated graphics up against Intel 14 nm integrated graphics. I don't think intel integrated graphics will look at all good compared to Vega based integrated graphics. AMD should win by a large margin.

May 19, 2017 | 11:57 PM - Posted by Godrilla

I will say this with every apu generation launch and will continue saying this, once AMD gets it's act together and makes the intergraded graphics on it's Apus crossfire with it's discrete standalone GPUs it's end game. It will make multi gpu scaling to the next level of efficiency, it will give AMD and edge over Nvidia and could offer a better price point at every every price point. Intel will soon lose it's advantage in gaming and this will facilitate that reaction faster as well.
AMD is finally back in the game.

May 21, 2017 | 12:04 AM - Posted by veer01_42

AMD needs to start supplying drivers for their graphics cards on Laptops directly, just like Nvidia. The shit that OEMs do with AMD drivers in ridiculous.

May 22, 2017 | 08:34 AM - Posted by ET3D

(After years of commenting without registering...)

AMD already showed slides with the figure of 11 CU, so there's no need to speculate about the number of CU's.

Personally I'm waiting for a Dell XPS 13 with mobile Ryzen.