The final piece of AMD’s return to high-performance computing is in laptops. While Ryzen, Threadripper, and EPYC have used the 8-core Zeppelin building block for their products, the laptop side of the equation will combine the new high-performance Zen core with the latest Vega graphics in a single piece of silicon. AMD is now set to release the results of their efforts: a single silicon chip offering four Zen cores, up to 10 Vega compute units, and a unified power delivery system all in under 15W, with AMD touting +200% CPU performance and +128% GPU performance over its previous generation of laptop processors. HP, Lenovo and Acer are releasing laptops based on the Ryzen Mobile hardware today (or soon), and we expect to see more OEMs at CES in January with their offerings.

Two APUs Now, More Later

To start, AMD is launching a pair of low-power processors for the laptop market: the Ryzen 7 2700U and the Ryzen 5 2500U. Both of these processors combine four of AMD’s latest Zen cores, with some minor improvements, with AMD’s latest Vega graphics, into a single piece of silicon. These are both 15W processors, using the U-suffixed nomenclature that Intel has popularized for its 15W parts. By developing around a 15W TDP, AMD is aiming for the same range of thin and light notebooks that are currently almost entirely Intel-powered, while also using the Vega graphics architecture as a significant selling point in gaming and enthusiast workload acceleration. AMD has also gone into detail about a number of power-saving technologies that is has developed and implemented to provide better battery life.

AMD Ryzen Mobile APUs
  Ryzen 7 2700U
with Vega 10
Ryzen 5 2500U
with Vega 8
FX-9800P
(2015)
CPU Quad-Core with SMT
2.2 GHz Base
3.8 GHz Turbo
Zen Cores, 14nm
Quad-Core with SMT
2.0 GHz Base
3.8 GHz Turbo
Zen Cores, 14nm
Dual Module
2.7 GHz Base
3.6 GHz Turbo
Excavator, 28nm
GPU Vega 10
10 CUs (640 SPs)
Up to 1300 MHz
Vega 8
8 CUs (512 SPs)
Up to 1100 MHz
GCN 1.2
8 CUs (512 SPs)
Up to 758 MHz
TDP 15W 15W 15W
DRAM Up to DDR4-2400 Up to DDR4-2400 Up to DDR4-1866
L2 Cache 512 KB/core 512 KB/core 1 MB/module
L3 Cache 1 MB/core 1 MB/core -
PCIe Lanes ? ? 8 x PCIe 3.0
Die Size 209.78 mm2 209.78 mm2 250.4 mm2
Transistors 4.95 billion 4.95 billion 3.1 billion
Launch October 2017 October 2017 May 2016

Both APUs will have four CPU cores and simultaneous multi-threading, giving eight threads total. The rated base clock for the processors will be in the 2.0 GHz range, although AMD states that the typical all-core turbo will be much higher than this (more about it later). CPU boost frequencies are 3.8 GHz for the Ryzen 7 2700U and 3.6 GHz for the Ryzen 5 2500U, which sound very high for 15W processors but AMD has stated that this frequency combination is more in the efficiency sweet spot for the processor design. Like its competitor, OEMs can use these processors in configurable TDP modes, which AMD states are from 9W to 25W. We are under the impression that these power modes do not change the frequencies, but merely affect the turbo profile which we’ll discuss later.

The four cores will be in a single core complex (CCX), which AMD states will alleviate some of the questions about CCX-to-CCX latency that were present in the dual CCX design for the desktop processors. There is another cutback compared to the desktop: there is only 1MB of L3 cache per core rather than 2MB, giving a total of 4MB of L3 cache. AMD’s Zen cores use L3 victim caches, which for most CPU-based workloads have little effect; however the speed of this L3 will be important when it comes to using the integrated graphics.

The single silicon design has 11 Vega compute units onboard, of which the Ryzen 7 2700U will be able to use 10 of them, and the Ryzen 5 2500U will be able to use 8. These will be called ‘Vega 10’ and ‘Vega 8’ graphics respectively. AMD does not provide the base frequencies for the graphics, but does state that the maximum frequencies for the parts will be 1300 MHz and 1100 MHz respectively. One of AMD’s key discussion points in our briefings was around the ability to shift power between the CPU and the GPU to keep the maximum performance at all times.

Memory support for both processors is up to dual-channel DDR4-2400; although AMD stated that it will be up to the laptop OEMs to decide whether to sell the devices with two memory modules. Some of the feedback the OEMs get is the requirement to ‘potentially’ upgrade the memory inside at a later date, which necessitates shipping single channel devices and leaving a memory slot free, rather than replacing two memory modules at once. The new Ryzen Mobile processors use AMD’s Infinity Fabric interconnect between the CPU and GPU segments, which runs at half the clock rate of the memory, and AMD states it offers better bandwidth and lower latency than PCIe.

Ryzen Mobile-based Laptops Coming to Shelves

When we get the final press releases in hand there will be specific news stories for each of the laptops coming to market, but AMD shared some information ahead of time about how AMD is returning to thin and light notebooks that actually have a proper design ID. As we stated back in our analysis of the Carrizo platform, there were plenty of users who were interested in AMD APUs but in an Envy or a Swift-like chassis, rather than the bulky plastic reduced price parts that vendors were putting out instead. So the big plus here is that we get an HP Envy x360, an Acer Swift 3, and a Lenovo Ideapad 720S with Ryzen Mobile.

Read our news post on the HP Envy X360 with Ryzen Mobile here

The HP Envy is actually the biggest notebook of the three, offering a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS screen and dual-channel DDR4-2400, with a 55.8 Wh battery. Storage will be offered with SSDs up to 512 GB and HDDs up to 1TB, although we are waiting to know if that SSD storage is SATA or PCIe. At just under 5 lbs it is going to be a bit heavy, but the x360 part of the name means it has a rotating hinge, allowing for it to be used as a tablet or a tent, with a touchscreen as well. Power is provided over USB Type-C, which also supports the DisplayPort alt-mode. Pricing will start at $699 and it will be shipping from November.

The Lenovo system is the smaller one, coming in at 2.5 lbs, and offering either a 1080p IPS screen or a 4K (UHD) IPS screen. We were told that this design uses a repurposed chassis from an Intel version, but will be offered with both the Ryzen 7 2700U and the Ryzen 5 2500U processors. As with most popular notebooks, the Ideapad 720S will taper to a point at the edge, but at its thickest point it will be around half-an-inch – it has been a while since we saw an AMD notebook at that size. Lenovo will support a 48 Wh battery and Type-C charging with a DisplayPort alt-mode, with storage up to 1TB of SSD (again, no mention of SATA or PCIe). The downside is perhaps the memory support, at DDR4-2133 and only single channel with no room to upgrade to dual channel. Ultimately Lenovo is going to promote this for productivity that is not memory bandwidth limited over gaming.

The Swift 3 is a little different than the others – we were told that Acer has built this chassis to dissipate 25W of processor power rather than 15W, meaning that Acer is going to be taking advantage of longer turbo modes and better performance numbers than other Ryzen Mobile parts. It will come with a 15-inch 1080p display, although it will not be offered in touch screen, and storage will be up to 256GB of SSD (again, no mention of SATA or PCIe). Memory will be dual channel, although the system will only support 8GB of DDR4-2133, and there is no mention of potential upgradability there – we’ll wait for the final press release.

What Is New with Ryzen Mobile

Aside from the on sheet specifications and upcoming devices that will be using these parts, AMD also provided some performance metrics, some updates to the SenseMI technologies for Ryzen Mobile, as well as a look into the new power regulation system developed for these parts, a lot of which are upgrades to the basic AMD Zen design that will be featured in the next generation of desktop processors. We will cover these in the next few pages.

AMD Goes For Performance
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  • xemone - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    This is impressive and I'm glad to see AMD chips that can finally compete with Intel in the low TDP range. I am however, disappointed LPDDR4 compatibility isn't included in the initial parts.

    But these are only the first two and there are more to come, so I'm hopeful we'll see chips that support power-sipping memory. Any 15W TDP chip intended for the the ultrathin mobile market should at least allow for LP-DRAM. Let's not forget Intel has opened up Thunderbolt 3 and made it royalty-free. Adding these two technologies to AMDs Infinity Fabric "interconnect" onboard Raven Ridge would allow manufacturers to build sleeker devices. Board space is at a serious premium and that often why its hard to find low power AMD chips in these premium thin and lights.

    Things are about to change!
    Reply
  • sonichedgehog360@yahoo.com - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    “If we look at processors from Intel that are 4C/8T, like the 35W Core i7-7700T, this scores 777 in our testing, which kind of drives away from AMD’s point here. AMD succeeds in touting that it has ‘desktop-class performance’ in a small power package, attempting to redefine its status as high performance. Part of me thinks at this level, it could be said that all the mobile processors in this range have ‘desktop-class performance’, so this is a case of AMD now catching up to the competition.“

    You just said that in Cinebench R15, AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700U achieved 707 at 15W and compare it to a 35W Intel product that achieved 777. But you call this catching up; I would call that blowing past the competition! That score is nearly double the performance per watt, considering that you just compared AMD’s product with 15W TDP with an Intel product with a 35W TDP.
    Reply
  • sonichedgehog360@yahoo.com - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    Looking more closely, a 15W Ryzen 7 2700U appears to fall right in line with an Intel Skull Canyon NUC’s 45W Intel Core i7-6700HQ in CPU performance and slightly outperforms it in GPU performance. Per the official AnandTech review, the Skull Canyon NUC got a Cinebench R15 ST/MT score of 148.24/711.04. Per NotebookCheck, its Iris Pro Graphics 580 achieves a score of 3510 in 3DMark 11 - Performance. Reply
  • SaturnusDK - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    I was similarly perplexed by the wording used here. How is more than double the performance per watt "catching up". The examples have the i7-7700T score 22.2 points per watt while the R7 2700U completely annihilates that by 47.1 point per watt. Seems to me that it is Intel that has a lot of catching up to do. Reply
  • sonichedgehog360@yahoo.com - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    It could be a combination of years of Intel having a lion’s share of the media mindshare (before Ryzen, for the longest time, the fact of the matter was that Intel was far and away the superior architecture) combined with the fact that there may have been very limited time given between receipt date and embargo time, giving way to more errors cropping up in a highly rushed journalism process. Reply
  • extide - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    Yeah, but that 35W part could sustain that performance for a much longer time, if not indefinitely. The 15W AMD part (and likewise 15W Intel parts) will throttle down a fair bit after sustained use. According to AMD the R7 2700U drops to ~550 on cinebench after a 5-min loop. (Last slide on page 3) Reply
  • SaturnusDK - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    It's possible it could sustain it for longer. We don't know that though. And even 550 points is still a massive performance per watt advantage to the AMD part. 770 points at 35W is 22 points per watt while 550 points (sustained) at 15W is 36.67 points per watt. A whooping 66.7% performance per watt advantage. Reply
  • lilmoe - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    I probably missed this, but any word on bulk pricing in comparison with Intel U series?

    Other than that, I'm pretty damn sure the 14nm LPP will shine at the 15w and lower power envelopes. This is where the power per watt comparisons matter for consumers. Same should be applicable to mobile Vega. I wonder if pairing the APU with a discreet mobile Vega part would have any advantages over an Intel/nVidia pair. Hopefully it would have better harmony and better switching drivers.

    I would also love to see benchmarks emphasising latency vs Intel speed shift. I just hate to admit Intel might have an advantage there.

    Too early to tell, but boy am I excited since what feels like ages.
    Reply
  • Kamen75 - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    Samsung's 14nm LPP process being leased by GF just doesn't do Ryzen and Vega much justice on high performance desktop parts. Given 14nm LPP's smartphone SoC heritage it sure does let these low power AMD designs shine though. I'm also anticipating great things from IBM's 7nm process so long as it isn't delayed for an extra year. Bring on the 4.5 - 6 watt fanless APU's.

    I too am excited for the first time in years.
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - link

    Fingers crossed for 6 or even 8 cores Zen2 and 14-16 CUs at 7nm, with higher max clocks for ST. HBM would be the icing on the cake. Throw a dGPU with twice or thrice the CUs and put your hand in my pocket and help yourself to my wallet AMD. Reply

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