This year at CES, we have a series of announcements from AMD before the company's keynote presentation. Addressing the company's mobile offerings, AMD is launching the first parts of the Ryzen 3000-series of processors, focused around the Ryzen Mobile 2nd Gen family for both the general 15W market as well as the high-performance 35W market. On top of this, AMD is also making an announcement regarding how it will address graphics drivers for these platforms, and then some icing on the cake comes from AMD's venture into Chromebooks.

Ryzen 3000-Series, Starting with 2nd Generation Ryzen Mobile

Everyone is keen for AMD to announce its next-generation processors, based on the 7nm Zen 2 architecture, which are expected to carry the 3000-series branding. However we're still going to have to wait for those announcements; instead AMD is announcing its 12nm Zen+ Mobile processors today, with these processors going under the 3000-series branding.

These parts are upgraded versions of the first generation of Ryzen Mobile parts, the Ryzen 3 2300U and the Ryzen 5 2500U (codename: Raven Ridge), which found their way into a number of premium designs. These new second generation parts will take advantage of the upgraded microarchitecture going from Zen to Zen+, as well as the additional frequency headroom and lower power offered by GlobalFoundries' 12nm process. The new processors will also expand the range of power envelopes that Ryzen Mobile is available under, from the top of the stack 35W Ryzen 7 3750H processor down to the 15W Athlon 300W for entry-level devices.

AMD's reasoning for expanding its offerings, the company says, is in part due to the shape of the notebook market. Based on data from analysts at IDC, the notebook market sells around 87-90 million units per year, but the sales distribution between the various market segments has changed from 2017 to 2018: there are fewer 'mainstream' products, more Chromebooks, more premium devices, and more gaming devices. By increasing the number of processors on offer, as well as the power/performance at both the high-end and the budget and value segments, AMD hopes to address most of the possible market in order to get a bigger slice of the pie. Usually the discussion here is about TAM, or 'Total Addressable Market', measured in billions of dollars – the more market you can address, the higher the TAM.

Also on AMD's lips was the rationale behind some of its performance comparisons for the new processors. Much like Intel, AMD is quoting a MIcrosoft research report that states that the average time between notebook upgrades for an typical user is around five years. Because of this, AMD is sometimes comparing the performance of the new 2nd Generation Ryzen Mobile parts against a Broadwell (2014/2015 era) notebook. Other comparisons were against the latest Intel Coffee Lake-Refresh and Whiskey Lake processors.

The new 2nd Generation Ryzen Mobile processor stack looks like this:

AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen Mobile
TDP Base
Ryzen 7 3750H 4 (8) 35 W 2.3 GHz 4.0 GHz Vega 10 1400 MHz
Ryzen 7 3700U 4 (8) 15 W 2.3 GHz 4.0 GHz Vega 10 1400 MHz
Ryzen 5 3550H 4 (8) 35 W 2.1 GHz 3.7 GHz Vega 8 1200 MHz
Ryzen 5 3500U 4 (8) 15 W 2.1 GHz 3.7 GHz Vega 8 1200 MHz
Ryzen 3 3300U 4 (4) 15 W 2.1 GHz 3.5 GHz Vega 6 1200 MHz
Ryzen 3 3200U 2 (4) 15 W 2.6 GHz 3.5 GHz Vega 3 1200 MHz
Athlon 300U 2 (4) 15 W 2.4 GHz 3.3 GHz Vega 3 1000 MHz

At the top is the new AMD mobile king, the Ryzen 7 3750H, a quad-core 35W processor with simultaneous mutli-threading, a 2.3 GHz base clock, a 4.0 GHz turbo frequency, 10 Vega compute units (640 SPs), a peak GPU frequency of 1400 MHz, and support for four displays. This is going to be aimed at the high-end and gaming notebook market, typically with devices that have discrete GPUs.

The Ryzen 7 3700U is the update to the Ryzen 7 2700U, offering more frequency due to the enhanced 12nm process and Zen+ microarchitecture. The thing is, aside from being rated at 15W rather than 35W like the 3750H, the specifications for this processor are exactly the same as the 3750H. So what we're looking at is a much better voltage/power binned chip, or the TDP means something different on the system: either peak power, or the 35W part can hold its turbo frequency for longer. These processors have Precison Boost 2, allowing the frequency to adjust accordance with the load and the thermal capabilities of the system they are in.

A little bit down the stack, the Ryzen 5 3550H and 3500U are also identical to each other except from the TDP. Both processors are quad-core with eight threads, a 2.1 GHz base frequency, a 3.7 GHz turbo frequency, eight Vega compute units (512 SPs), a maximum GPU frequency of 1200 MHz, and again support for four displays. 

The final three processors are more aimed at the mainstream and budget markets. The Ryzen 3 3300U is a quad-core 15W part at 2.1/3.5 GHz with six CUs, so expect this to be a common processor for mid-range notebooks. The Ryzen 3 3200U cuts back on the cores (two with simultaneous multi-threading), and the Vega compute units (three = 192 SPs), and has slightly less L3 cache. The Athlon 300U is the first Ryzen Mobile Athlon processor, but is actually using Zen cores on 14nm. This is likely to be the same die as the desktop Ryzen APUs, but binned down at 15W.

AMD has said to expect systems based on these processors to be announced during CES, and to hit the market during the first quarter (January to March) of this year.

One of the first systems with the new 35W processors was disclosed directly by AMD. The ASUS FX505DY will be part of ASUS' TUF Gaming range, and will be a 15.6-inch gaming laptop with either a Ryzen 7 3750H or Ryzen 5 3550H, and paired with an AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics card. The device will come with the option of a standard 1080p60 display or a FreeSync-enabled 1080p120 display. Memory will go up to 32GB of DDR4-2400, and various storage options exist. Being part of the TUF Gaming line, and a gaming laptop, means we should expect to see an RGB keyboard too by the images.

For performance, AMD provided some interesting numbers for the new 15W processors. These are from AMD direct, not us, so as always, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Against a system that a typical user might be upgrading from, such as a 15W Broadwell system, AMD said that they've seen their new 15W parts score an average of +60% over the older system due to the CPU and extra cores (four cores for AMD vs two in Broadwell). For multimedia applications, especially now that a good number can use the integrated Vega graphics, AMD is reporting a 10-22% speedup on web workloads (as measured by PCMark10's web sub-test), 50% faster on general workloads (as measured by PCMark10 Standard), and a full 15-16x performance increase when using Adobe Photoshop CC image filters.

For the new second generation parts, AMD stated that laptops with them should aim for a set of modern standards that include 12hrs or more battery life, 10 hours of video playback (which they call the 'LA to Tokyo Test'), have voice wake, support 4K streaming video, gaming, and modern standby. With that said, we're all very curious to see how the battery life claims in particular play out; all of the first-generation Ryzen mobile laptops we've reviewed have demonstrated problematically high idle power consumption. So this is AMD's chance to fix the Ryzen mobile platform for the next generation of devices.

As for comparisons against modern systems, again at 15W, AMD promoted that a Ryzen 5 3500U against a Core i5-8250U scores +14% on web workloads (PCMark 10 Web), +27% on Photoshop filters, and ties on office scripting. For gaming, pitting a Ryzen 7 3700U against a Whiskey Lake-U Core i7-8565U gave AMD a 20-40% advantage in average frame rates on popular games (Rocket League, DOTA2, Fortnite) at 720p Low settings.

Radeon Drivers and Software

Part of AMD's announcement also touched on a policy change in its Windows driver line-up. Starting in Q1, any laptop with a Ryzen Mobile CPU that uses integrated graphics will be supported direct from AMD with a single driver package to cover all devices. This will, according to AMD, enable them with Day 0 driver support for the latest game titles and updates, as well as simplify the process between AMD, OEMs, and end users. This proved to be an especially rough point of friction with gamers and other power users on the first-generation parts, so it's a significant improvement in how AMD is going about driver support.

The updated driver stack and driver package will cover all Ryzen Mobile CPUs, both first generation and second generation (and Athlons), which also makes it easier for users who already have a Ryzen APU device to update. AMD promises that this driver set will be getting frequent updates, much like its driver set for desktop discrete graphics cards,

Going for Chromebooks Too

One part of the market that AMD hasn't played in yet is the Chromebook market. The processors that typically go into Chromebooks are lower grade Celerons and Pentiums, which AMD doesn't particularly compete against. In 2019, AMD is going to pursue this market, with they feel is 'an underserved but growing market'. AMD quoted that the Chromebook market is currently growing with an 8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) with increasing average selling prices, so now is the right time to enter for them. To this end, AMD is launching two Excavator-based A-Series processors with a 6W TDP.

These processors use the Excavator microarchitecture, the last vestige of AMD's run of Bulldozer-based cores, but the best example of the family. (We reviewed the predecessor Carrizo in detail, and it wasn't that bad). These small CPUs built on 28nm will have one core/module, two threads, and sit at 6W TDP. The graphics inside is AMD's GCN 1.2 family, which AMD says will beat the Atom parts currently in these devices.

The A6-9220C is the best processor of the pair, with a 1.8 GHz base frequency and a 2.7 GHz turbo frequency, with 192 SPs running at 720 MHz and support for VP9/H.264/H.265 decode. This processor, according to AMD, beats Intel's Celeron N3350 and Pentium N4200, with the following metrics:

  • Up to 23% faster in web browsing (Speedometer 2.0)
  • Up to 13% faster in web applications (WebXPRT 3)
  • Up to 2.5x faster in email (PCMark for Android, Writing sub-test)
  • Up to 62% higher productivity (PCMark for Android, Work test)
  • Up to 33% faster in photo editing (PCMark for Android, Photo Editing sub-test)
  • Up to 34% faster in web gaming (Bullet Force on WebGL)

Given that Chromebooks are often used in this way (mostly office style work, perhaps some web-based gaming), AMD is confident they have a part that works for them. The other processor on the list is the A4-9120C, which is slightly slower on the CPU and GPU. All of the AMD-based Chromebooks are expected to get 10hrs+ of battery life, which AMD says is a base requirement for Chromebooks, and AMD also states they easily get that. These two processors might also be found on entry-level Windows-based notebooks as well.

Some of the first AMD Chromebooks will be from HP and Acer.

The HP Chromebook 14 is based on AMD’s A4-9120 SoC and features a 14-inch display with a 1366x768 resolution. With 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, 32 GB of local eMMC storage, and an essential minimum of I/O capabilities, the Chromebook 14 shouldn't cost too much. It comes in a fine-looking chassis with a textured finish and a 1.8 cm (0.92-inch) z-height. What is interesting is that HP claims that its Chromebook 14 works for 9 hours and 15 minutes on a single charge using a 47.36 Wh battery.

Keep an Eye on the AMD Keynote

AMD's Keynote presentation, led by CEO Dr. Lisa Su, is on Wednesday morning. Alongside these announcements, which are being released before the presentation, we're sure to hear a few more things that AMD is up to. Stay tuned, as we'll be live-blogging that too.

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  • ST33LDI9ITAL - Sunday, January 6, 2019 - link

    FFS, just give us a console cpu/apu package with beefy GPU and hbm2 and watch sales soar!
  • hanselltc - Sunday, January 6, 2019 - link

    I wonder why does AMD not use their latest arch on the latest node for mobile. Wouldn't you want more power efficiency on mobile?
  • neblogai - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    For AMD, APUs are low margin products. Zen CPU dies of the same size sell for ~€200 on average, and go for both desktop and servers. APUs, on the other hand, sell for ~€100 on desktop and mobile- need to be pushed into Intel dominated mobile market, with volume being not high. And mobile market has a lot of inertia, so it is not easy to enter. So, it makes sense for AMD to do it slower. They still have a lot to fix- like drivers, switchable graphics support, adding LPDDR support needed for small/high end devices, making video playback more efficient, etc. And, like I said, bigger/faster money is in Zen dies- which already had a 12nm refresh and now get Zen2 + 7nm. Lower margin product- APUs- will follow the path of 12nm refresh of same silicon, that offers a better product at minimal investment, and only then get whole new CPU and iGPU design at 7nm. Probably again for a new product (7nm) and then a refresh cycle (7nm+ or 5nm), which is a tick-tock strategy of all AMD products.
  • wanderson - Sunday, January 6, 2019 - link

    AMD have unfortunately followed Microsoft Operating System (OS) support blindly for at least two generations, even while Linux was captiring the Server, Data cwnter and Cloud computing Market left to Intel for plundering. Even ARM has started serious entry into the Server market.

    Now the company is looking at Chromebooks, at a time when seveal Chromebook manufacturers are eyeing ARM based systems.

    By the way, more than 52% of all school systems in USA are deploying Chromebooks, and Amazon has announced that for the last three Thanksgiving through Christmas shopping seasons, they have sold more Chromebooks than "every brand and model of (Intel) Windows based laptops combined"

    While I sincerely hope that AMD can be financially successful in competing with Intel, these always late and always choosing the wrong OS “exclusively” practices has severely hurt the company, thus pushing them into a perpetual catch-up mode.
  • Eris_Floralia - Sunday, January 6, 2019 - link

    Ian, according to AMD the 3200U/300U are the same arch as PCO but on 14LPP.

    These should be the new Raven2(RV2) die.
  • zodiacfml - Sunday, January 6, 2019 - link

    I'd rather sit this one out and wait for next year 7nm mobile PC chips.
  • neblogai - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    7nm mobile APUs might be great, especially if they were to have LPDDR4X or 5 support. That would allow AMD to enter high-end ultrathin market, and offer decent graphics performance. But these 12nm chips are also very good, and only need good laptop designs. And this Asus TUF actually looks well built (XFastest review).
  • 1_rick - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    Typo in paragraph 3: "15W Athlon 300W", should be "Athlon 300U", according to the table.
  • 1_rick - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    " Starting in Q1, any laptop with a Ryzen Mobile CPU that uses integrated graphics will be supported direct from AMD with a single driver package to cover all devices. "

    This is really good news. Laptops--I'm looking at you specifically, Dell--have traditionally been hamstrung by vendor insistence on not letting stock AMD drivers work with their products, leading to massively-outdated drivers being the only ones available.
  • TheJian - Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - link

    Chase the RICH AMD, not the POOR. Ask NV/Intel for advice on your next product announcements & perhaps more importantly, HOW TO PRICE THEM to make NET INCOME. IE, don't start a price war from day one launches. Nobody else wants one, so not sure why you keep starting them with EVERY launch. If your next gpu performs like a GTX 1080 (rumor 7nm small aiming here), then for god's sake, CHARGE 1080 PRICING (not $249 rumor? LOL, no net income), especially if you are LOWER watts while doing it. YOU WIN. YOU CHARGE! You lose, you are bargain bin, and so is your NET INCOME. It is that simple. Aim HIGH, or DIE.

    Your cpu's seem to be heading in the right direction, I only hope you don't charge like your in 2nd place for the next 12-18 months pissing away your 7nm vs. 14nm Intel competition lead. Intel's tech is not screwed because of a failed launch or failed 10nm. IF they are being truthful (surely as they have the money to work on multiple things at once), 7nm will make 10nm dead ASAP and is ON schedule unlike 10nm 2yrs-3yrs late. If you don't make hay while the sun shines for the next ~18 months, how will you combat Intel R&D for the next round? Again, see Intel/NV launches. You aren't in gpu (until 7nm maybe) above $350 really now, so NV stacks pricing ON TOP of old gen (perf of 2060 is worth it, just saying, price going up with perf). Intel loses ability to keep up with 14nm and thus screws poor people and moves production to RICH SERVER people. Both WISE decisions, unlike you chasing console (poor PC people?...LOL), apu, and er, chromebooks with 28nm chips. 720 low quality? ROFLMAO. 720p should not be uttered in 2019, and at 7nm you'd be talking 1080p gaming (with your gpu) and ALL DAY battery life like Intel's coming stuff. Also note those chips are in $1600 laptops, while you're aiming at what, $250-300 chromebooks? This HP starts at $269...LOL. Who's margins and income do you think are BETTER here people? Hint, it isn't AMD.

    Quit trying to make small cheap chips too. Small=2nd rate. Larger (NV reticle limit, Apple large socs etc)=NET INCOME because you tend to WIN at least for a while until the other guy comes. You go small you get 7nm gpu@GTX 1080 (maybe...LOL) performance. Large=RTX with new features to brag about, DLSS+RT and 60-92% better than 1060 for 2060 depending on tech you turn on per game.
    The 2060 die looks like it's about 2x AMD 7nm gpus coming (low 200's). Thus, POWER gamers buy in droves, vs. a YAWN over your poor people ~230mm^2 that can't keep up with old 1080ti. That is NOT a good launch vehicle for new tech, NV way is FAR better for the bottom line (ie, NET INCOME). Do you want to be BILL GATES, or the HOMELESS guy? MSFT gets most of it's money from ENTERPRISE, meaning RICH folks. You get your money from POOR people mostly, and your NET INCOME shows it Q after Q, year after year.

    Also, market share means NOTHING if you don't have decent margins on them. I'd rather own 10-15% of the market and 50% of the NET INCOME (see apple iphones), than 85-90% of the market and the other 50% NET being split over the REST of the market, meaning nobody can afford to keep up with Apple R&D at these rates. The same story can be said about Intel/NV vs. AMD. At least you're chasing server/HEDT with cpu, but why not GPU KINGS too? You will continue to fail if you aim low. Poor people complain about $10-50 on a gpu, while RICH people just keep buying titans yearly without blinking. If you're making $200k+ a year a titan card isn't even a Christmas gift, it's F5 Olympics at launch no matter what day of the year that comes. See the difference? Don't bother with poor people until the rich can't afford to buy more ;) When a rich product is stuck on the shelf, THEN and ONLY then, do you make poor gpu/cpu stuff :) PERIOD. You are not in business to be our friend, you are in business to make NET INCOME. PERIOD.

    Your going small on gpu, so NV just can keep 12nm going and drop the price at most, then hit reticle limit again Q1/20 with 7nm and raise prices back up. Your strategy is helping the competition, rather than KILLING their HIGH margin cash cows (IE, gpus above $300, consumer/pro/server here). You won't even nick NV profits with cards under $250 and their R&D train will just keep going with 4B+ a year NET.

    Get smarter AMD, chase the RICH first and poor LAST. They are laughing at your NET INCOME and so is Intel. R&D at Nvidia is now 1.8B, while AMD 1.1B and they make a lot more stuff. Why is this so hard for AMD to figure out. Chasing poor, just keeps you POOR.

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