AMD Bristol Ridge APU Offers 20% More Performance Than Carrizo, Uses The Same Architecture
Hardware enthusiasts wait almost a year for the tech giants to reveal new technologies. While AMD was one of the many tech manufactures present at Computex 2016, the company did not disappoint us with unveiling of its 7th generation Bristol Ridge APUs, which the company announced earlier this year.
Now lets talk about what these APUs can offer in terms of performance. Bristol Ridge APUs offers 20% more computational power and 37% boost in GPU power over its predecessor Carrizo.
This kind of performance jump is common in generational updates, but what is most interesting is that AMD has squeezed this much power out of the same architecture that of Carrizo’s, with same 28nm transistors and same Excavator-based design.
Quad Core AMD FX, A12 and A10 are the high-end APUs, which come in 35W and 15W variants. The lowest base clock speed for the 15W A10 is 2.4 GHz and the highest base clock for 35W FX is 3.7 GHz. The FX and A12 feature eight GCN cores with a R7 graphics, while A10 features Radeon R5 graphics. All three of these support DDR4 memory up to 2400 MHz, which gives the on-board GPU a significant boost.
A9, A6, and E2 APUs are mid to low range variants, all three of these consume 15W TDP with cut down clock speeds and graphics speed. A9 features Radeon R5, A6 features Radeon R4 and the E2 has Radeon R2.
According to AMD, these low end chips still have performance advantage over Carrizo, with clock speeds 1 Ghz higher and 50% more GCN graphics core. These also support HDMI 2.0, PCIe 3.o and built in MPEG hardware decoding.
You must be wondering that how in the world did AMD gain this performance boost if they did not changed the core architecture of Bristol Ridge. Well AMD’s CTO of client products, Joe Macri, has an answer to that, and according to him, the gains in the GPU and CPU were due to improving the existing 28nm manufacturing process with GlobalFoundries.
We didn’t change the shape of the transistor, but we changed transistor implant and gave the transistor much more mobility. At any given voltage, we get more current out. It’s typically what you’d call a process variant. GlobalFoundries did a great piece of work here. We basically got an extra 200MHz or so out of the core, for a nice 10 percent boost in performance, which is greater than what you typically get out of a simple process tweak. But this wouldn’t have made a new product. I wouldn’t be calling this a seventh generation product if all we did was get this.
Indeed, AMD has made some changes to Bristol Ridge APUs, each plays its own part in increasing the performance. One small tweak is an addition of two extra P-States in shadow processor performance states, which allows the Bristol Ridge to create more accurate clock speed targets.
AMD has also included a power management feature, which uses sensors inside the laptops to determine the skin temperature of the user. This allows for the APU to achieve higher clock speeds as long as the user’s skin temperature remains in the limits.
Another tweak done in Bristol Ridge APUs by AMD is the addition of a new reliability tracker, which tracks how much the transistors of the APU degrade due to high voltage and heat, which can slow down the speed of the APU. This allows Bristol Ridge to keep track of the instances where heat and voltage are in the safe limits and APU can boost to higher clock speed for longer duration.
My take on this Bristol Ridge APUs is that AMD took a smart approach to achieve its target, by not only improving its architecture but also making them energy saving. I personally look forward to using these Bristol Ridge APUs in notebooks and laptops, and the performance boost they offer.
The 7th gen Bristol Ridge APU FX 9800 is already available in some versions of HP Envy x360, and hopefully more notebooks and laptops will feature this in coming months.