AMD is bringing Zen 4 architecture and AI to its mobile processors at CES 2023

AMD Chair and CEO Lisa Su opened CES 2023 with the keynote address, highlighting all the ways AMD is disrupting its product markets. AMD announced new mobile and desktop processors, mobile graphics cards, new AI products and so-called “adaptive computing” solutions.

In addition to chips, large OEMs such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are also presenting their latest laptops and notebooks at CES. You can read more of my coverage of Lenovo devices and the latest Dell peripherals here. HP also announced its latest consumer product, the Dragonfly Pro, with specially optimized AMD CPUs and GPUs.

Zen 4 and RDNA 3 are coming to mobile

Laptops have become even more popular in recent years due to the digital transformation of businesses and the societal trend towards more remote and hybrid work. Whether it’s used for gaming, content creation, or hybrid work, a portable and powerful device allows the user to be productive and versatile. While performance and portability aren’t mutually exclusive, leaning toward one almost always comes at the expense of the other. The desire to have both performance and portability is why performance per watt (PPW) has become the metric of choice for mobile computing. AMD’s biggest announcement for computing at CES is that it’s bringing its Zen 4 CPU architecture and RDNA 3 graphics architecture to its mobile processors.

AMD launched the Zen 4 architecture for desktop processors in September 2022 and achieved significant improvements in PPW compared to its previous CPU generation. Read Senior Analyst Anshel Sag’s coverage of AMD’s Zen 4 architecture and Ryzen 7000 desktop announcements here.

I would like to highlight that AMD’s Zen 4 architecture was built using TSMC’s 5nm process node, which has allowed AMD to achieve much better PPW across generations. The smaller processing node allows for denser silicon, but it also means the chips get hotter faster, which is why AMD reports higher performance gains the lower the power draw. We should see that AMD’s Zen 4 architecture works most efficiently in the mobile space, where the power consumption occurs Got to under.

At CES, Lisa Su announced new Ryzen 7000 series mobile processors, bringing the Zen 4 architecture and integrated RDNA 3 graphics architecture to the mobile space. I’m very curious to see how AMD’s Ryzen 7040 series compares to Intel’s 13th Gen Core processors and Apple’s current and future M2 processors. While all three companies are chasing PPW, AMD is the only one that doesn’t have a suite of efficiency and performance cores. Instead of distinguishing between two cores, one of which is optimized for less demanding tasks and lower power consumption, AMD relies on the overall energy efficiency of its Zen 4 architecture. Spin it up and down quickly. I think we should see AMD give Apple a fight for its money on PPW.

The processors of the Ryzen 7040 series have up to eight cores and 16 threads with a thermal design power (TDP) of 35 to 45 watts. AMD also announced the Ryzen 7045HX series with up to 16 cores and 32 threads and a TDP between 45 and 75 watts. The 7045HX series is designed for gamers and content creators. AMD says it shows 18% faster single-threaded performance and 78% faster multi-threaded performance over the last generation, the Ryzen 6900HX.

AMD also announced its Radeon RX 7000 series mobile graphics processors for laptops and PCs, based on the RDNA 3 architecture. This new series includes new processing units that share resources for rendering, new AI accelerators and second generation ray tracing accelerators from AMD. On the video side, the AMD Radeon RX 7000 series comes with full AV1 encoding support, as well as DisplayPort 2.1 support. Like the last generation of the Radeon 6000 series, AMD has “M” SKUs for maximum performance devices and “S” SKUs for thin and light notebooks.

While I don’t see the Radeon RX 7000 series outperforming Nvidia’s latest RTX 40 series GPUs, I do believe it could challenge Nvidia’s lower-priced GPUs due to certain advantages. The DisplayPort 2.1 supports 4K displays at 480 Hz or 8K displays at 165 Hz, making it future-proof for the long term. The Radeon RX 7000 series might be aimed more at budget-conscious consumers and when paired with an AMD processor would be AMD Advantage certified laptops.

Ryzen processors contain AI

AMD’s last big announcement on the mobile side is Ryzen AI technology, which AMD says is the first dedicated artificial intelligence hardware in an x86 processor. AI has been a huge digital trend in 2022 and I see it only becoming more ingrained and “real” in our digital ecosystems. – what a big announcement that was for Microsoft at their Surface event last year. It brought AI and machine learning (ML)-enhanced video calling experiences to Windows devices that have support for neural processing units (NPUs) – like the new AMD Ryzen 7040-series processors.

AI should remain a rising trend in 2023, and I believe we could see even bigger announcements for natural language models than what we saw in 2022 with ChatGPT. AI models doing natural language processing have intensive processing needs, and we’re seeing more AI use cases, I think AMD’s Ryzen AI and other NPUs could get a lot more attention.

New Ryzen desktop processors with 3D V-Cache

AMD also announced three new processors in the Ryzen 7000 desktop series that feature its 3DV cache technology. AMD claims the Ryzen 7000X3D is the world’s fastest gaming processor. It had great success last year with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, its first consumer desktop processor to support 3-D V-Cache. The Ryzen 7000X3D devices benefit from cross-generational improvements including DDR5 memory and the Socket AM5 chipset.

AMD also announced new 65-watt TDP desktop processors. These new Ryzen 7000-series desktop processors are designed to compete with Intel’s 13th Gen Core processors, which also draw 65 watts. AMD will use these new processors to appeal to consumers who want more power efficiency.

AMD’s data center announcements

AMD also made two new data center announcements with the AMD Alveo V70 AI accelerator and the first integrated data center CPU and GPU, the AMD Instinct MI300.

The Alveo V70 is the first AMD AI accelerator with its XDNA architecture, the same architecture that the Ryzen AI technology in the Ryzen 7040 series is built on. Designed for the data center, the Alveo V70 is positioned to compete with Nvidia’s T4 GPU accelerator. AMD says its XDNA architecture will enable ubiquitous AI and give enterprises the ability to scale AI workloads.

The Instinct MI300 is built for high-performance computing and AI performance. According to AMD, the MI300 accelerators utilize a breakthrough 3-D chiplet design that combines the AMD CDNA 3 GPU architecture, Zen 4 CPU cores and high-bandwidth memory chiplets. AMD claims it has eight times the performance and five times the PPW under AI workloads compared to the MI250. The MI300 accelerator is also used in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s supercomputer El Capitan. The fact that it’s used in the El Capitan supercomputer tells me this accelerator is a beast.

I think AMD will continue to do well in HPC environments where end users can write their own software stacks. I take a wait-and-see attitude towards end-users consuming libraries, especially CUDA libraries.

Wrap up

With its Zen 4 CPU architecture and RDNA 3 graphics architecture, I believe AMD offers a powerful combination of performance and portability that will appeal to gamers, content creators, and hybrid workers alike. Based on this combination, we could see AMD hitting Apple on PPW trades.

AMD is also well positioned for the continued rise of AI and ML in our digital ecosystems. AMD will be able to further scale its XDNA architecture for data center offerings with its Alveo V70 and mobile consumer space with Ryzen AI technology. I’m curious to see how AMD’s new mobile GPUs and CPUs compare to Apple, Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm.

Note: The Moor Insights & Strategy Co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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