An Unusual Launch Cycle: OEMs now, Individual Units Later

The launch of Bristol Ridge APUs for desktop is taking a slightly different strategy to previous AMD launches. Typically we expect to see CPUs/APUs and OEM systems with that hardware launched on the day of the announcement, with stock of the hardware getting to shelves over the next few weeks. In order to do this, AMD needs to work with all the OEMs (HP, Lenovo, Dell) and platform partners (ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI, ASRock) and potentially the memory manufacturers (Crucial, Kingston, G.Skill, ADATA, etc) to synchronize a launch with expected hardware, platform control and settings.

This time around, AMD has focused on the OEMs first, with all-in-one PCs and desktop systems being their focus. Typically the big OEMs develop their own PCBs and manage the full gamut of support, as well as being mindful of firmware that can be a work in progress up until the launch date. This allows the launch to be focused on a few models of complete experience systems, rather than the comparative free-for-all with custom build machines. Typically one might argue that the standard motherboard designers take longer to design their product, as it becomes their brand on offer, whereas HP/Lenovo sells the system as a brand, so not every stage has to be promoted, advertised and polished in the same way.

Of course, from an enthusiast perspective, I would prefer everything to come out on day one, and a deep dissection into the platform. But because Bristol Ridge is sharing a platform with the upcoming new microarchitecture, Zen, AMD has to balance the wishes of OEMs along with product expectations. As a result, the base announcement from AMD was somewhat of a brief overview, and we delayed writing this piece until we were able to source certain nuggets of information which make sense when individual units (and motherboards) are on sale for DIY users, as well as some insights into what Zen might offer.

But by focusing on OEMs first, it makes it more difficult for us to source review units! Watch this space, we’re working on it.

The CPU Roadmap

A lot of the recent talk regarding AMD’s future in the desktop CPU space has revolved around its next-generation CPU architecture called Zen. In August, AMD opened up to a significant part of the underlying Zen microarchitecture, detailing a micro-op cache, a layered memory hierarchy, dual schedulers and other information. Nonetheless Zen is initially aiming for the high-end desktop (HEDT) market, and AMD has always stated that Zen will share the AM4 platform with new mainstream CPUs, under the Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge names, initially based on an updated Excavator microarchitecture.

AMD’s roadmap seems to be the following:

The latest AMD announcements are for that mainstream segment, but we can see that AMD is moving from a three-socket configuration of AM3, FM2+ and AM1 into a singular AM4 platform from top to bottom, with the budget element perhaps being more embedded focused. This has positives and negatives associated with it, which is part of the reason why AMD is staggering the release of Bristol Ridge and the 7th Generation APUs between OEMs and PIBs.

The positive from the unified problem is that AMD’s OEM customers can have a one size fits all solution that spans from the budget to the premium, which makes OEM designs easier to translate from a high powered platform to a budget system. The downside is variety and compatibility – if a vendor designs a platform purely for a budget system, and has fewer safeguards, then a user cannot simply put in the most powerful CPU/APU available. Luckily we are told that all AM4 systems should be dual channel, which migrates away from the Carrizo/Carrizo-L problem we had in notebooks late last year.

AMD 7th Gen Bristol Ridge and AM4: The CPUs, Overclocking The Integrated GPU
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • patrickjp93 - Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - link

    Yeah, no. Even the 5775C has thoroughly beaten everything AMD has so far offered, even if narrowly. Skylake GT3e increased that gap, and GT4e dug a canyon between Intel and AMD. This is why I sincerely doubt AMD's HPC APUs will get much traction.
  • MrCommunistGen - Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - link

    Skylake's GT4e really is in a whole new league of iGPU performance (at a significant cost) - but to nitpick GT3e on Skylake very likely underperforms GT3e on Broadwell.

    Broadwell GT3e (specifically Iris Pro 6200) is 48EUs at up to 1150MHz backed by 128MB eDRAM on a 65W TDP quad core.
    Skylake GT3e (specifically Iris Graphics 550) is 48EUs at up to 1100MHz backed by 64MB eDRAM on a 28W dual core. (I'm not counting the listing for the "Server" GT3e which is listed as P555 with 128MB)

    Skylake has microarchitecture improvements to both the EUs and to the x86 cores. It also supports DDR4 and Gen9 includes delta compression - so the iGPU undoubtedly has more bandwidth available.

    That said, I really think that the smaller eDRAM, lower TDP, and lower max clock speed will make SKL GT3e slower than BDW GT3e.

    Due to the rearrangement of SKUs and iGPUs in SKL I think this is all natural. Intel is trying to *significantly* increase the iGPU perf available to their 15/28W dual core CPUs with its iteration of GT3e, however this allows for the potential that this architecture's GT3e underperforms the previous.
  • Danvelopment - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    Something seems a bit funny about the IGPs of the A8 and A6. The A8 states R7 with 384SPs and a lower clock than the R5 in the A6 also with 384SPs.

    Should the A6 be R7 or 256 SPs? And if it's correct, how does the IGP compare between the two? And what makes the A8 faster?
  • Danvelopment - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    Also, any chance in getting a couple R5 performance indicators?
  • MrCommunistGen - Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - link

    I noticed that too. I've seen tables and slides from various sites and they all list those specs. The only thing I can conclude is that since the A6 has half the CPU resources, maybe AMD just assumes that for most tasks you'll end up CPU bound to a large enough degree that even thought the iGPU is technically faster, performance will be lower.

    Or... the alternative is that there's a typo of some sort in the original materials published by AMD.
  • yannigr2 - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    Oh, really nice article. Thanks for this.
    Well the first Zen processors will probably cost more than the A12. Then when Zen based APUs will be ready to come to the market, we will see and smaller Zen models.
  • ET - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    Thanks for the writeup, Ian. I even learned some new things which I haven't yet read elsewhere. I do hope that Anandtech can get its hands on a chip for reviews.
  • NeatOman - Sunday, September 25, 2016 - link

    Marginal improvement IMO over last gen APU's. Looks interesting but an i3 will still "feel" faster as its single core power is still greater, although i almost always build AMD APU's for small offices because Microcenter has a instant $40 rebate when you buy in store. BUT.. ZEN SoC with HBM might be a game changer (to quote 2014), and rumor is Apple is eyeballing it for the next Macbook Pro. And AMD has a good track record on Unix based OS's which might be why the Mac Pro uses AMD... I'm going down a rabbit hole. SOO! A12... ehh.. no significant change but I'm waiting for ZEN.
  • utroz - Sunday, September 25, 2016 - link

    Ian Cutress on the first page you say: "Using the updated 28nm process from TSMC, AMD was able to tweak the microarchitecture and allow full on APUs for desktops using a similar design."
    Problem is that Carrizo and Bristol Ridge are actually made at Global Foundries on a 28nm process.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, September 26, 2016 - link

    "Back at Computex, AMD announced the thing to fill that hole: Bristol Ridge (and Stoney Ridge by extension). This is what AMD will call and market it's '7th Generation' of APUs, and will be built on TSMC's 28nm Bulk CMOS process."

    From anandtech's look at carrizo in july. Everything else i've found doesnt say GF or TSMC, just 28nm.

    so far, evidence is pointing at TSMC, not GF.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now