AMD crams desktop performance into ultra-thin laptops with its new Ryzen APUs

Ryzen APUs
On Thursday, October 26, AMD revealed its eighth-generation APU lineup along with the first three laptops that will rely on these chips. Short for accelerated processing unit, the latest APUs are all-in-one chips camming AMD’s new Ryzen processor cores and its new Vega graphics cores together into one solution. Right now, there are only two processors in the new eighth-generation family slated to arrive before the end of 2017.

Here are the specifications of the new Ryzen APUs:

Ryzen 7 2700U Ryzen 5 2500U
Ryzen cores: 4 4
Ryzen threads: 8 8
Base speed: 2.2GHz 2.0GHz
Boost speed: 3.8GHz 3.6GHz
Vega stream processors: 640 (10 compute units) 512 (8 compute units)
Vega boost speed: Up to 1,300MHz Up to 1,100MHz
Power usage (in watts): 12W to 25W configurable
15W nominal
12W to 25W configurable
15W nominal
L1 cache (per core): 64K instruction cache
32K data cache
64K instruction cache
32K data cache
L2 cache (per core): 512K 512K
L3 cache (shared): 4MB 4MB
Supported memory: Dual-channel DDR4
at 2,400MHz
Dual-channel DDR4
at 2,400MHz

AMD’s new APUs follow the company’s seventh-generation “Bristol Ridge” chips released in the middle of 2016. The new APUs promise up to 200 percent more CPU performance than the Bristol Ridge generation, up to 128 percent more graphics performance, and up to 58 percent less power consumption. The Ryzen cores are based on AMD’s new “Zen” CPU core design that was built from scratch to generate higher performance on a lower power draw, and a lower price tag.

If you’re looking for gaming on the go, laptops with these two new APUs can provide decent framerates without a secondary discrete GPU. AMD says the Vega cores can generate an average rate of 43 frames per second in Quake Champions using a 1,280 x 720 resolution and high graphics settings. The chips can also manage an average of 66 frames per second in Overwatch (1,280 x 720 / low), and 59 frames per second in League of Legends (1,920 x 1,080 / medium).

The two new APUs include AMD’s new SenseMi technology suite that adjusts the APU’s power consumption per workload so it’s not constantly draining your battery. This suite also includes an updated, second-generation Precision Boost component that will adjust the clock speed when needed in 25MHz increments using a new algorithm. This component provides the highest possible speed to achieve the maximum performance in games and other heavy workloads.

According to AMD, the new APUs are capable of boosting their performance beyond their out-of-the-box boost speed with the proper cooling system installed (aka Mobile XFR). That means you may see “overclocked” chips served up in certain laptops. Artificial intelligence is baked into each Ryzen core for mapping power and consumption for better application behavior.

Finally, in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, AMD shows that its Ryzen 7 2700U APU outperforms the GeForce GTX 950M discrete graphics chip and Intel’s Core i7-7500U processor for laptops. Ultimately, the bottom line is that AMD is targeting desktop performance for ultra-thin laptops using a thin, all-in-one processor solution that shouldn’t break your wallet in the end.

Here are the first three laptops sporting AMD’s new APUs:

HP Envy X360 Lenovo Ideapad 720S Acer Swift 3
Screen size: 15.6 inches with Touch 13.3 inches 15.6 inches
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 1,920 x 1,080 1,920 x 1,080
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2500U AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
Memory: Up to 8GB DDR4
at 2,400MHz
(dual channel)
DDR4 (unknown amount)
at 2,133MHz
(single channel)
Up to 8GB DDR4
at 2,400MHz
(dual channel)
Storage: Up to 512GB SSD or
Up to 1TB HDD
Up to 512GB SSD Up to 256GB SSD
Battery: 55.8Wh 48Wh 48Wh
Dimensions (inches): 14.17 x 9.80 x 0.76 12.04 x 8.38 x 0.53 15.27 x 10.03 x 0.70
Weight: ~4.73 pounds ~2.51 pounds ~3.96 pounds
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