AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile processors “Renoir” are just weeks away from launch. Intel is expected to face the same level of competition as it’s already facing in the desktop market where $200 Ryzen chips manage to beat its $500 flagships. With twice as many cores and comparable IPC, the 7nm APUs will power the fastest gaming laptops on the market. Although Intel still has a clock advantage with Comet Lake, the impact will be much less pronounced in the mobile market. As for the newer 10nm Ice Lake parts, being limited to quad-core designs also severely limits their capabilities.
Overall, AMD is a very favorable position to mount its first assault on the mobility market in nearly a decade and awaken Intel from its prolonged slumber.
The desktop DIY space may get a lot of attention, but at the end of the day, being limited to enthusiasts, it generates only a fraction of the revenue. The bulk of it comes from OEM centric devices, including pre-built PCs and laptops. After all, laptops are used by just about everyone: gamers, content creators, businessmen, travelers, academics, etc. This is precisely why the Ryzen 4000 APU launch is such a big deal.
It gives AMD access to a much larger target audience, meaning substantially higher profits. After the server market, the mobile or laptop space is the most lucrative, responsible for a major chunk of Intel’s revenue. While it’ll still take AMD a couple of years to penetrate Intel’s deep ties to manufacturers, this is a major step.
AMD Ryzen 4000 Renoir Mobile APUs Specifications
Right off the bat, let’s have a look at the specifications. First the low power 15W Ryzen 400U lineup:
As you can see the 15W U series is the focus. The reason being that slim form-factor notebooks are everywhere these days. It’s what the average user looks for. Only a small minority of users prefer those monstrous, bulky gaming laptops which aren’t actually “mobile”. True to their tradition, AMD has gone with the “moar core” philosophy, and for good reason. Pretty every application from gaming to browsers leverage up to 8 cores nowadays.
The Ryzen 4000U lineup starts off with the quad-core Ryzen 3 4300U which we recently found out to be on par with Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ. The Ryzen 5 and 7 have two variants each. Both are hex-core parts while one features SMT along with a slightly lower base clock. The GPU Compute count scales linearly from the Ryzen 3 to the Ryzen 7.
Now, over to the high-performance Ryzen 4000H APUs:
|45W H Lineup||Cores/Threads||Base Clock||Boost Clock||L2||L3||GPU CUs||TDP|
|Ryzen 7 4800H||8/ 16||2900MHz||4200MHz||4 MB||8 MB||7 CUs||45 W|
|Ryzen 7 4800HS||8/16||2900MHz||4200MHz||4 MB||8 MB||7 CUs||35 W|
|Ryzen 5 4600H||6/12||3000MHz||4000MHz||3 MB||8 MB||6 CUs||45 W|
As you can see, unlike the U series, the H series gets just two chips, the Ryzen 5 4600H and the Ryzen 7 4800H. A lower TDP variant of the latter, the 4800HS will be exclusive to ASUS laptops. AMD is probably leaving the U series chips for the average user while the H series will serve power-users and gamers. This clearly evident from the corresponding core counts. The former offers a lot more variety with 4-8 cores while the latter is essentially a two-product catalog, one with twelve threads while the other with sixteen.
Interestingly, the Ryzen 7 4800U features one more graphics core than the 4800H. The reason being that the H series will be paired with discrete GPUs (GTX 16xx, RTX 20xx and Radeon 5xxx), restricting the iGPU to basic, less-intensive tasks.
Another noteworthy detail here is that other than the TDP, the specs of the H series and the top-end U series are almost identical. Although the former has a power rating of 45W and the latter with 15-25W, it’ll be interesting to see how much they draw in real-world scenarios and what the performance deltas between them are like.
AMD Ryzen 4000 Renoir APU Chip Design: It’s Monolithic, not MCM
AMD’s Ryzen 4000 APU lineup is monolithic in design, rather than MCM (Multi-Chip Module) like the Ryzen 3000 desktop series that features eight-core CCDs glued together by the Infinity Fabric. This means that we’re getting much better latencies but simultaneously higher clocks. This makes sense as the core count doesn’t exceed 8 which is basically one CCD.
Using the chiplet design would have increased the power consumption and the die size too, which ultimately isn’t feasible for a mobile processor. We covered that in a post earlier, you can catch it here:
It’s a single die with eight cores and a Vega GPU, all fabbed on the 7nm process.
Compared to the desktop Ryzen 3000 series, Renoir features a reduced L3 cache. This is understandable as there’s a single die and a huge “GameCache” is not required to keep the inter-chip latency in check.
As far as the fine-grained architectural details are concerned, the same improvements to the front-end and back-end of the core are present as the desktop Ryzen 3000 lineup. You can read more here:
The core features of the Zen 2 core architecture are:
- 7nm Process
- TAGE Predictor
- 2x Micro-Op Cache
- 2x Floating Point Bandwidth
- 2x Load Store Bandwidth
- 2x L3 Cache
- Power Efficiency, Faster Boosts Security Mitigations
7nm Process and Power Efficiency
One of the main challenges with mobile CPUs is keeping the power draw low enough so that you can extract a decent battery life out of the device. Renoir achieves this with the help of the 7nm process which is the most advanced in the industry. The use of LPDDR4X and the monolithic design further cut-down the power draw and offer sufficiently higher performance per watt.
Here’s the reason why the H series Renoir APUs feature a lower APU count. All of them will have a dedicated GPU paired alongside, meaning they will be primarily seen in the gaming laptop segment, rather than the mainstream consumer space.
The Ryzen 4000 H-series will also feature something called SmartShift. It’s basically a power delivery mechanism that is supposed to boost gaming performance without increasing the power draw. As we know, games don’t need as much CPU firepower, and the average processor can run most titles with just 4-6 cores. Smartshift reduces the CPU power draw and directs it to the GPU for optimum performance and power. AMD is quoting 10% better framerates in The Division 2, and 12% faster Cinebench R20 NT performance with Smartshift enabled.
Graphics: Vega is Mega
The graphics part of things is less interesting. Basically, it’s the same old GCN based Vega GPU with the same number of CUs. However, thanks to the super-efficient 7nm node, AMD has been able to extract a lot more performance out of the old graphics parts.
According to AMD, each Compute Unit in the Ryzen 4000 APUs is as much as 60% faster than Picasso. These gains mostly come from the 7nm node shrink which has allowed Team Red to scale up the GPU frequencies significantly: 1600-1700MHz on a mobile GPU is just plain insane. Other than that, improvements to the cache, schedulers, and other logic/design also contribute to the overall figure.
Launch Date for Renoir
Although the Ryzen 4000 APUs were announced at CES in early Jan, they are expected to hit retail later this month. The first Renoir powered laptops will be from ASUS with the ultra-efficient S chips powering the next-gen Zephyrus, TUF Gaming and Zenbooks. Other major OEMs including Dell, Lenovo and HP will most likely launch their 7nm based offerings later this year.