CES 2019: AMD introduces second-gen mobile CPUs based on Zen microarchitecture

AMD's second-generation Zen mobile CPUs paired with Vega GPUs offer faster graphics performance than Intel's competing CPUs, which are in short supply.

CES chief Gary Shapiro predicts the biggest hits of 2019 show Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, talks to ZDNet's Jason Hiner about the biggest tech trends he expects to see at CES 2019.

Ahead of CES 2019 on Sunday, AMD announced their 2019 lineup of processors destined for laptop and notebook PCs, including the second generation of mobile Ryzen processors, based on AMD's Zen microarchitecture. AMD claims the new processors are capable of "up to 10 hours of video playback battery life," as well as supporting wake-on-voice, Modern Standby, smooth gaming, and 4K HDR streaming. The new processors are built on a 12nm process, and integrate AMD's Radeon Vega GPU technology.

Of the newly announced processors, two are 35W models, which are likely to be used more for higher-power applications. These include the Ryzen 7 3750H and Ryzen 5 3550H, which operate at 4.0 GHz / 2.3 GHz and 3.7 / 2.1 GHz, turbo/base speeds, respectively. The former includes a 10-core Vega GPU at a max speed of 1400 MHz, while the latter includes 8 cores at 1200 MHz. Both models have four physical cores with two threads per core.

SEE: CES 2019 news, photos, videos, and more (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

For mainstream 15W options, the Ryzen 7 3700U and Ryzen 5 3500U offer the same clock speeds, core and thread counts, and GPU frequencies, though the lower wattage limits the ability for these processors to be run at higher clock speeds for extended periods of time.

Other 15W options include the quad-core Ryzen 3 3300U, at 3.5 GHz / 2.1 GHz turbo/base speeds, with a 6 core Vega GPU at 1200 MHz, and the dual-core Ryzen 3 3200U at 3.5 GHz / 2.6 GHz, with a 3 core Vega GPU at 1200 MHz. At the low end is the AMD Athlon 300U, a dual-core CPU at 3.3 GHz / 2.4 GHz, with a 3 core Vega GPU at 1000 MHz.

The Ryzen 3 3200U and Athon 300U have 5MB L2/L3 cache, while the other Ryzen CPUs in this announcement have 6MB.

AMD's announcement of these mobile CPUs is a bit perfunctory, as the company's mobile offerings have historically struggled to provide the same battery life as Intel CPUs. According to Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa, AMD's market share "is traditionally higher in desktop," though AMD is anticipated to "pick up some volume which Intel cannot supply." Supply shortages from Intel, as the company struggles to migrate to a 10nm manufacturing process, have resulted in decreased shipments from PC OEMs.

AMD also announced the 6W dual-core A6-9220C and AMD A4-9120C, which run at 2.7 GHz / 1.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz / 1.6 GHz, respectively. The duo appear destined to appear only in Chromebook offerings, with the Acer Chromebook 315 and HP Chromebook 14 among the first to be announced at CES. This marks the first time AMD CPUs have been used in Chrome OS devices, though these are based on AMD's 2015-era Excavator microarchitecture, built on a 28nm process. Chromebooks have never been the apex of consumer computing, though dusting off 2015-era technology for devices in 2019 should be met with healthy skepticism.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • AMD announced the second generation of mobile processors based on their Zen microarchitecture.
  • AMD is making their first processors for Chromebooks, though these are based on 2015-era technology.

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Image: AMD

By James Sanders

James Sanders is a staff writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.