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AMD is slowing down at the worst possible time

AMD CEO Lisa Su holding an APU chip.

AMD has a strong hold on the handheld gaming market, and given the growing popularity of such consoles, that’s a good place to be. AMD’s chips power the Steam Deck, but also consoles like the Asus ROG Ally or the Ayaneo 2S. While it’s crucial for AMD to keep pushing and release new, more powerful APUs, the latest rumors imply that we may not see its most-anticipated update until 2025 — a huge delay compared to the previous road map. As a result, are we about to witness Intel take the lead with Meteor Lake?

AMD has plans that go far beyond its current APUs, although no official release dates have been confirmed for these chips as of yet. However, according to the rumor mill, we expected to see Strix Halo and Strix Point APUs in 2024, just in time to rival Intel’s fresh Meteor Lake chips. Now, according to Moore’s Law Is Dead, we might have to wait a lot longer.

As per the leaked AMD road map, Strix Point has been moved back and will launch sometime in mid-2024, but Strix Halo has been delayed until sometime in the first half of 2025. That’s a significant difference, seeing as both were initially expected to arrive in 2024; Strix Halo might be delayed by up to a year at that point.

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Out of these two architectures, Strix Point is the less exciting option, as it’s a direct upgrade to the current-gen Phoenix APUs. It’s still said to be serving up some upgrades, though. The top chip in the Phoenix lineup, the Z1 Extreme, has eight Zen 4 cores and 12 RDNA 3 compute units (CUs). Strix Point is a straightforward increase with 16 RDNA 3.5 CUs. It’s said to feature Zen 5 cores, however, and it’ll utilize XDNA 2 cores dedicated to AI workloads, as well as 45 trillion to 50 trillion tera operations per second (TOPS), which, again, is a good thing for AI.

Strix Halo is where it gets interesting. It’s said to offer up to 16 Zen 5 cores and up to 40 RDNA 3.5 CUs, as well as 45 trillion to 50 trillion TOPS on the XDNA 2 AI chip. The graphics performance of such a chip could potentially rival some of the best GPUs, including desktop versions. AMD’s RX 6750 XT comes with 40 CUs, after all.

AMD's leaked Zen 4 and Zen 5 roadmap.
Moore's Law Is Dead

Overall, AMD’s plans for the mobile segment are extensive. Let’s not forget Dragon Range and Fire Range, slated for 2024 and 2025, respectively. Those are the architectures that will power some of the best gaming laptops — they’ll probably be much too power-hungry to end up in gaming consoles.

Strix Halo APUs are almost bound to find their way inside some next-gen gaming handhelds, unless their increased performance will be too detrimental to battery life. However, with a nearly one-year delay, AMD is putting itself in a pretty precarious position where it’s allowing Intel to open some new doors and make some progress in the market that has been, so far, dominated by AMD alone.

Intel definitely has some interest in portable gaming PCs, as shown by the recent Emdoor console. Seeing as Intel Meteor Lake is set to come out in December this year, Intel will be given a lot of room to offer current-gen performance with no AMD rival in sight. It’s not just gaming consoles, either, but also laptops.

If Strix Halo doesn’t come out until 2025, Intel will only have to compete against Strix Point in the integrated graphics segment, which is likely less of a clear win for either side. Once Strix Halo is out, however, the Arc graphics in Meteor Lake chips are going to have a hard time keeping up. In addition, by 2025, next-gen discrete graphics will be right around the corner, which will make these 40 graphics CUs a lot less impressive.

It’s a bad time for AMD to slow down, but it may have been too optimistic in the first place, with too many different mobile architectures rumored to come out in 2024. This new road map makes more sense from a release cadence standpoint, but for Intel, it’s good news all around. It gives Intel some room to shine without needing to wrestle AMD for the spotlight.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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