New AMD APU, Finally a High-Performance Intel Contender

New AMD APUAMD refers to its processors as “Accelerated Processing Units” (APUs). The company has finally taken the wraps off the new AMD APU. And the upgrade introduces a 52% performance boost for entry-level chips. And a 56% boost for high-end APUs over the last generation.

The 7th gen Ryzen Mobile processors signal AMD’s return to high-performance computing. After years of powering mostly low-end laptops. AMD aims to close the performance gap between their main rival by combining the more competitive Zen architecture with the latest Radeon Vega GPU.

Laptops showcasing the new AMD hardware are the Acer Swift 3, HP Envy x360, and Lenovo IdeaPad 720s, which hit shelves in November 2017.

The new AMD APU is significant because it signals a strategic move by AMD to be more competitive in the laptop market.

New AMD APU

The AMD, Intel, NVIDIA Comparison

If you’ve been an AMD fanboy or girl. You’ve probably been stewing over the performance disparity between AMD and Intel for years.

Before the Ryzen chips, AMD was well regarded as the performance underdog. But when it comes to value. AMD processors have generally been cheaper than comparable Intel offerings.

Part of the reason is because of the two companies, AMD is the smaller by some margin (the company sold off one of its U.S. based fabrication plants in 2009).

Another reason is because AMD’s attention is divided further as they battle yet another rival in the gaming arena. While NVIDIA, with its powerful Pascal architecture delivers unparalleled performance. Perhaps AMD’s Vega platform may be able to offer similar performance at a lower price.

There may be even more hope on the horizon with the new AMD APU. If you’ve been following AMD lately. You know that they’re doing things drastically different with their APUs nowadays.

AMD’s plan now is to drive hard for the reviving PC gaming market. The company has stuck to what it knows best by doubling up on the number of cores and GPU compute chips on its processors. And across the board. The new AMD APU is overclockable and easily overtakes equivalent Kaby Lake generation processors.

But, while this makes AMD the winner for multithreaded scenarios. Games today rarely use more than four threads. So, restricted thread settings are where Intel CPUs still excel.

The 7th gen Ryzen Mobile APUs, however, promise a processor with a 200% performance gain. And a 128% gain for the GPU compared to previous generations (more about these later).

Although AMD offers many processors with Radeon graphics on the same chip. It’s the first Ryzen processor to feature “on-die” graphics to truly compete with Intel’s Coffee Lake CPUs.

 

The New AMD APU


Ryzen Mobile APUs include the following:

  • A Quad-Core CPU based on the company’s Zen microarchictecture. It promises 52% more instructions per clock cycle over the previous generation without using additional watts.
  • A DDR4 memory controller for interacting with the RAM, display and multimedia engines. And an I/O system hub.
  • Infinity Fabric, which are a set of sensors that connect the GPU and CPU controllers. AMD claims that the Fabric allows the chip to better balance heat and power consumption against clock speeds.

 

7th Generation Ryzen Processor

With this new AMD APU, the company is reemerging as a practical alternative to Intel in the laptop market; arguably the most important computer segment according to recent sales statistics.

Like Intel’s Coffee Lake release. AMD launched a pair of power-sipping, 15-watt CPUs for the ultra-thin laptop market. The Ryzen 5 2500U, and Ryzen 7 2700U. Both combine four AMD Zen cores. And similar to Intel, they use simultaneous multi-threading to give eight threads.

The Ryzen 5 2500U has a base speed of 2GHz. And the Ryzen 7 2700U is clocked at 2.2GHz. AMD claims that this is an up to 200% more CPU performance for multi-core use over the last generation. This is partly accomplished by the company’s significantly revised Precision Boost 2 technology. It’s faster at deciding which processor cores should get more boost as workload intensifies.

Although the 3.6GHz turbo boost speed for the Ryzen 5 2500U. And 3.8GHz boost speed for the Ryzen 7 2700U sound too high for 15-watt processors. AMD assures that this combination is perfect for the processor design.

Like Intel’s mainstream “U Series”. AMD’s processor upgrade also focuses on power efficiency. Like competitors. OEMs can configure these APUs to use up to 25-watts in larger systems, with additional cooling.

 

Radeon Vega GPU

Ryzen GPU Performance

AMD’s plan is to use the Vega graphics architecture as a major selling point for gamers and acceleration enthusiasts with the new AMD APU.

To become a viable alternative to Intel. One of AMD’s key advantages is that it can leverage its own GPU resources to manufacture integrated GPUs for its processors. Intel’s integrated graphics are better than they used to be. But AMD has historically had the edge in this market.

Although Intel does produce its own integrated graphics for its CPUs. The company is forced to rely on partners like NVIDIA for high-end graphics capabilities.

AMD claims an up to 128% better GPU performance for the integrated Vega graphics architecture. The single silicon design has 11 Vega compute units.

The Ryzen 5 2500U uses eight Radeon Vega compute units (CUs). Clocked at up to 1100MHz, AMD calls it ‘Vega 8’. And the Ryzen 7 2700U uses 10 Vega CUs clocked at up to 1300MHz, and is named ‘Vega 10’.

The other way AMD is able to accomplish this kind of performance is that the chipsets are able to shift power between the CPU and GPU to keep the maximum performance at all times.

 

Less Power Consumption, and Infinity Fabric

AMD Ryzen Chip Infinity Fabric

The new AMD APU also claims about 58% more power efficiency. But in order to deliver performance to the CPU and GPU. The APU uses a dual-channel DDR4-2400 RAM, which is less power efficient than LPDDR3.

But they’ve left the decisions up to laptop OEMs to decide how to balance performance and power, which will determine if devices featuring these chips will use two memory modules or not.

The new AMD APU uses the company’s Infinity Fabric. It hasn’t received as much fan-fair as the chips it supports. But it’s an important and exciting piece of technology.

Infinity Fabric interconnects the CPU and GPU segments. It runs at half the clock rate of the memory. And helps make theoretical performance limits more achievable. With an overall power efficient, architectural design.

AMD also claims it offers a better bandwidth scale (30-50 GBps for notebooks, and about 512 GBps for the Vega GPU), and lower latency than PCIe.

 

Conclusion

Next up in the series, we’ll take a look at system memory to show you why more is better. And we’ll help you determine how much RAM you should get with your new laptop.

AMD means business.

If AMD is able to keep up this momentum, they’ll no longer have to fight a defensive rear-guard with APUs that aren’t adequate enough for high-efficiency, low-power operation. And users will be provided with more options in the laptop market.

Was there anything you feel we forgot to mention about the new AMD APU to help you in your journey to your new laptop? We’d love to hear from you. And invite you to let us know in the comment section.

 

 

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