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AMD’s Ryzen 6000 processors could steal one of Intel’s competitive advantages

New rumors are emerging about AMD’s next-generation Zen 4 microarchitecture, and it looks like the company may be following in larger rival Intel’s footsteps. When AMD launches its Ryzen processor based on the Zen 4 core, according to the latest rumors and leaks, it could potentially equip each of its processors with an integrated GPU, a strategy that Intel has been using across its processor lineup.

Rumors of AMD’s potential integrated graphics strategy for Zen 4 processors come by way of PC Gamer, which claimed that it had pieced together AMD’s road map by combining multiple rumors.

If this pans out, that means that a Zen 4-powered Ryzen processor will come with integrated Radeon-based Navi graphics to compete against Intel CPUs with integrated Xe graphics. Because integrated graphics still are nowhere nearly as powerful as discrete GPUs, this solution still won’t be too appealing to gamers. However, AMD may be looking at casual PC shoppers and business systems that may not require the full power of a graphics card. With an integrated GPU, AMD-powered Ryzen systems can still deliver boosted performance when using GPU-optimized office apps, video rendering, and even casual, light gaming.

Currently, a number of AMD processors, known as APUs or Accelerated Processing Units, already ship with integrated graphics. However, these chips are designed for a very specific market, and AMD could broaden the appeal of its Ryzen processors if every CPU came with integrated graphics capabilities. This strategy means that Intel would lose part of its competitive advantage over AMD, at least in office systems. It’s one less reason for IT departments to automatically prefer Intel over AMD.

AMD’s “if you can’t beat them, join them approach” may take a while to materialize. Currently, with the Ryzen 5000 processors, AMD is using its Zen 3 architecture, and there are rumors that the company could advance to a 6nm-based Zen 3+ design before arriving at Zen 4. It’s believed that Zen 4 will be based on a 5nm design, and the processor will finally see AMD migrating away from its AM4 socket to a new AM5 socket. By that time, hopefully, AMD would have recovered from the global semiconductor shortage that’s affecting the industry.

In addition to competing against each other, both AMD and Intel are facing increasing competition from Apple. After Apple had announced its shift away from Intel processors, it debuted its own Apple M1 silicon, which is an ARM-based design that combines CPU and GPU cores on the same chipset in a similar approach to what the company is using on its own smartphones. Apple’s migration away from Intel — when fully realized — will also impact AMD, as AMD’s discrete Radeon graphics cards are often paired with Intel’s CPU on a higher-end system.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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