On July 21 2020 AMD announced its new Ryzen 4000 series APUs. The 7nm processors, with a built-in Radeon graphic card, promise to be some of the most powerful APUs for both commercial and consumer products. As early reviews of devices with the 4000 series show, it could spell trouble for Intel.
In its press release, AMD compared the 4700G model of its 4000 series to the Intel i7-9700. The company said that the 4700 offers 5% greater single-thread performance, 31% greater multi-thread performance and 202% better graphics performance. That is more or less what most early benchmarks and reviews claim, but more on that later.
The 4000 series chips are built on the 7nm fabrication process, while Intel is still using the 14nm process. Why does it matter you ask? In simple terms, the size refers to the size of the transistor on the chip. The smaller the transistor, the less power is required for the chip. And the smaller the transistor, the more you can pack into a processor. So you get a more powerful processor that draws less power and does not heat up as much. Right now Intel’s (or Team Blue) 7nm processors have been delayed to 2022, giving AMD (or Team Red) a head start.
The Ryzen 4000 APUs are built on AMD’s ‘Zen 2’ architecture, which was launched in 2019. Interestingly, AMD is also set to launch a new ‘Zen 3’ architecture sometime later this year. Right now, it’s unclear if Team Red will update the 4000 series to accommodate that launch, but it is possible.
Coming to PCs Near You
AMD offers a wide range of options to accommodate each kind of device, from pro-gaming rigs to entry-level PCs. The series will be available in a trio of models – Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 – all with different power and performance points. There’s also a 4000 Pro range, for businesses with security features such as AMD Memory Guard and AMD Secure Processor.
Since AMD is focussed on gaming, it is fitting that the first consumer device to come with the 4000 series is a gaming laptop – the Asus Zephyrus G14. In the US, the G14 comes with a Ryzen 9 4900HS APU ($1,499), while in the UK, Asus will offer two models – one with a Ryzen 7 4800H (£1,599) and a base model with a Ryzen 5 4600H (£999). You can check out the review of the G14 here on Techradar.
Other devices that have launched, or will launch with the new processors include the Dell G5 SE, HP Envy x360 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 amongst others. AMD said that 135 machines should be available by the end of the year, across various price points. So get ready to see some insanely powerful machines.
Benchmarks and Comparison
With a few devices already available in the market, the reviews are in. And so far, it seems like AMD has a winner. On the Asus Zephyrus G14, Techradar said: “some creative engineering from the folks over at AMD, has allowed this processor to offer truly desktop-class performance on a laptop that weighs just over 3 lb.” A leaked benchmark test by @_rogame on Twitter in March showed off just how powerful the 4000 series is. A 90% performance jump over the 3000 series is no joke.
NotebookCheck pitted the 10th Generation Comet Lake processors against AMD’s 4000 series in April, once again highlighting the gulf between the two companies. While Intel came on top in single-core performance tests, they fell behind in multi-core tests.
According to Tom’s Hardware: “Notebookcheck’s numbers showed Comet Lake-H failing to compete with Renoir (the code name for the 4000 series) in the multi-core performance race and barely clinging to the single-core ribbon.”
TrustedReview’s comparison between the two companies further highlighted the trouble Intel is in. On laptop processors, the review said: “Intel still boasts an advantage over Ryzen 4000 in terms of high-end frequency speeds, but the Ryzen 4000 chip allows for better all-round performance, while also allowing laptop designs to remain compact.” It went to add “If you want an all-round performance computer that doesn’t break the bank, then you’re likely best off with an AMD chip. But if you want a high-end gaming system and aren’t afraid of testing your budget, then Intel remains your best bet.” So maybe it’s not all bad news for Intel?
Struggling to begin production on 7nm processors, Intel is clearly on the back foot though. When the company does get its 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs on the market, it will face stiff competition from Team Red. The 10nm Tiger Lake APUs are expected to up the graphics capabilities, as per LaptopMag, giving Team Blue a much-needed boost in the battle against AMD. But even then, AMD’s rising success will be hard to replicate, especially if Intel keeps losing partners like Apple.
With the Zen 2 architecture making its way to the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, one thing is clear. AMD is leading the way forward in gaming, across console and PC. Whether it can transition that success to consumer and enterprise is the question, but going by these early benchmarks it certainly looks possible.
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