AMD’s 7nm Ryzen 4000 laptop processors are finally here

Despite AMD’s currently abysmal laptop marketshare, the company claims a lot of historical firsts over the past 10 years. AMD’s U-series are lower power profile, integrated graphics parts. H-series are discrete CPU with higher TDP. Pro series isn’t available yet, but targets enterprise with additional security features. AMD AMD’s been on top with integrated graphics…

  • Despite AMD’s currently abysmal laptop marketshare, the company claims a lot of historical firsts over the past 10 years.

  • AMD’s U-series are lower power profile, integrated graphics parts. H-series are discrete CPU with higher TDP. Pro series isn’t available yet, but targets enterprise with additional security features.


  • AMD’s been on top with integrated graphics for a while now—but this year is the first time AMD has achieved single-thread parity.


AMD has scored big 7nm performance wins over the last few months with its Ryzen 3000-series desktop CPUs, Threadripper 3000-series HEDT CPUs, and Epyc Rome server CPUs—and the newest addition to the family, the Ryzen Mobile 4000 series, looks like it will continue in the same vein.

No one should be surprised that the Ryzen Mobile 4000—which brings AMD’s Zen 2 7nm architecture to the laptop world—outperforms Intel’s laptop CPU offerings on multi-threaded performance or graphics performance. Even single-threaded performance—which has finally achieved par—isn’t the big stumbling block we’ve been waiting to see if AMD could conquer.

The egregious black mark against AMD’s mobile line over the last year or two hasn’t been about performance at all—at first glance, it’s about battery life. At a second, closer look, it’s even more about OEM integration. We’re pleased to see that AMD has taken giant strides to improve both issues with this year’s mobile CPU lineup.

Getting serious attention from OEMs

  • AMD’s last generation of laptop CPUs was already pretty good—problem is, the CPUs were mostly shoveled into bottom-tier, zero-effort designs by OEMs aiming for the “cheapest laptop” buyers only.

  • The biggest problem with the last generation of mobile Ryzen wasn’t the CPU—it was lackadaisical integration efforts. AMD is looking to solve that with Mobile Ryzen 4000.


  • AMD is committing to deep integration with partner OEMs to ensure no more… “underengineered” designs make it through the door.


  • AMD seems to have finally gotten laptop OEMs to pay real attention to them, with more than 100 designs expected in 2020.


  • We saw a lot of the Yoga Slim 7 throughout Tech Day. It’s an extremely slender, lightweight system—reminiscent of a 14″ Chromebook.


  • The Yoga Slim 7, which was featured throughout the presentations at AMD’s tech day, looks to provide oodles of power for a sub-$1K laptop.


Although last year’s Ryzen Mobile 3000 line didn’t use AMD’s newest Zen 2 architecture or 7nm process size, it was still a solid match for its Intel competition on paper. Unfortunately, a good mobile CPU isn’t enough to make a good laptop. Despite performance that ranged from “solid competition” to “outright winner” compared to Intel designs, most Ryzen 3000 laptops had poor battery life, poor thermal design, and mediocre performance at best.

The problem is that laptop OEMs weren’t taking the Ryzen Mobile 3000 seriously. They generally lavished attention to detail on Intel-powered designs for higher-end laptops while shoveling Ryzen CPUs into generic designs aimed at cost-is-the-only-object buyers.

Hardware integration isn’t a really crucial factor with desktops or even servers. They can afford to devote extra space, weight, and power to offset minor inefficiencies—but in a laptop, any sacrifice in design and integration quality translates to obvious, user-visible penalties.

The most common complaint with Ryzen 3000 laptops is poor battery life. But performance takes a hit from sub-par integration work as well. Modern laptop designs generally spec a TDP (Thermal Design Power) budget for cooling that’s insufficient to handle the total heat the system’s components can produce when running flat-out for long periods.

Since the system can’t handle full system load for long periods, it throttles performance on the components as necessary to avoiding cooking them in their own waste heat. This is why poor laptop design results in poor performance—a less-efficient system generates more heat, exceeds the TDP budget more quickly, and the system must slow itself down as a result.

This year, it seems clear that AMD has gotten OEMs’ attention and has them on board with producing detailed and fully integrated Ryzen 4000 system designs. AMD had a Lenovo executive take the stage to talk about the upcoming Yoga Slim 7, an ultrathin 14″ laptop with high performance and long battery life—but Lenovo is unlikely to be the only OEM paying attention.

Although AMD is being cagey for the moment about exactly who is or isn’t on board, the company specifically talked about partnerships with Microsoft and Google as well as new design certification and continuous validation programs aimed at fixing any problems with poor integration going forward.

Battery life

  • Ryzen 4000 makes new low-power states available and makes transitions to and from low-power states faster.

  • AMD claims twice the instructions per watt, with roughly half the improvement coming from the die shrink to 7nm.


  • Reducing minimum voltage, decreasing power supplies for I/O and PHYs, and drastically reducing CPUOFF latency all contribute to a more efficient system-on-chip.


  • Ryzen 4000 is twice as efficient running graphics-creation workloads as prior generations. (It’s still slightly less efficient here than the newest Intel designs—but makes up for the shortfall elsewhere.)


  • Infinity Fabric interconnects in the new SoCs are redesigned to offer better memory bandwidth and lower power consumption than prior Ryzen Mobile CPUs.


  • The new “Renoir” design adheres to the latest ACPI power state definition, offering three different Cstates and accepting OS guidance to intelligently select the proper power condition for a given workload.


  • Vega onboard graphics are also greatly improved in power efficiency. AMD attributes 75% of the gains to the 7nm process shrink.


  • Even the audio controller contributes to overall power efficiency. Renoir offers power-efficient wake on voice and significantly lower CPU power consumption when playing audio or video on applications supporting Low Power Audio Playback (LPAP).


We went into AMD’s Tech Day—the press-invite-only launch for the Ryzen Mobile 4000 line—excited about the potential performance to be found in the new 7nm design. But we had real concerns about battery life. To overcome user dissatisfaction with earlier AMD powered laptops, the company needed both to improve OEM and OS vendor-integration efforts and improve the direct hardware efficiency in its own designs significantly.

Happily, AMD seems to have done exactly that. Both the general presentations and a specific breakout on power and thermal efficiency made very clear that AMD took this aspect of the Ryzen Mobile 4000 very seriously. The company claims overall System-on-Chip power reduction of 20 percent and a multi-threaded, heavy-load performance-per-watt twice that of earlier designs.

Shrinking die size from 12nm to 7nm alone might account for as much as half of the increase in efficiency, but the rest comes from significant design improvements. In particular, the Renoir design incorporates the newest ACPI power-state model—which includes three separate low-power c-states to shut down portions of the CPU, instead of the earlier design’s one.

  • In this graph we can see how much more time Ryzen 3000 spends jogging back and forth between higher- and lower-power states while launching PCMark.

  • Better management of power states and faster transitions between them translate into a 59% power-consumption decrease when launching this application.


  • Both latency (how rapidly the CPU can move in and out of C-states) and intelligent management are necessary to get the best results.


  • Good power management requires the system to distinguish between multiple consumers—particularly, CPU power vs. discrete GPU power needs.


  • The hardware itself is limited to fairly crude guesses about what’s coming up in terms of workload and how to optimize for it. The operating system is in a much better position to judge and inform the hardware accordingly.


Renoir also adds new OS hinting features. Operating systems supporting the new ACPI model—including both Windows and Linux—can inform the CPU what performance levels are expected for upcoming workloads, and how best to choose between higher frequencies and lower power draw.

Finally, entry and exit latency from the lower-power C-states is drastically improved, allowing the CPU to spend more time in lower-power idle modes, with less impact on user-perceived task latency.

Listing image by AMD

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