An Unusual Launch Cycle: OEMs now, Individual Units Later

The launch of Bristol Ridge APUs for desktop is taking a slightly different strategy to previous AMD launches. Typically we expect to see CPUs/APUs and OEM systems with that hardware launched on the day of the announcement, with stock of the hardware getting to shelves over the next few weeks. In order to do this, AMD needs to work with all the OEMs (HP, Lenovo, Dell) and platform partners (ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI, ASRock) and potentially the memory manufacturers (Crucial, Kingston, G.Skill, ADATA, etc) to synchronize a launch with expected hardware, platform control and settings.

This time around, AMD has focused on the OEMs first, with all-in-one PCs and desktop systems being their focus. Typically the big OEMs develop their own PCBs and manage the full gamut of support, as well as being mindful of firmware that can be a work in progress up until the launch date. This allows the launch to be focused on a few models of complete experience systems, rather than the comparative free-for-all with custom build machines. Typically one might argue that the standard motherboard designers take longer to design their product, as it becomes their brand on offer, whereas HP/Lenovo sells the system as a brand, so not every stage has to be promoted, advertised and polished in the same way.

Of course, from an enthusiast perspective, I would prefer everything to come out on day one, and a deep dissection into the platform. But because Bristol Ridge is sharing a platform with the upcoming new microarchitecture, Zen, AMD has to balance the wishes of OEMs along with product expectations. As a result, the base announcement from AMD was somewhat of a brief overview, and we delayed writing this piece until we were able to source certain nuggets of information which make sense when individual units (and motherboards) are on sale for DIY users, as well as some insights into what Zen might offer.

But by focusing on OEMs first, it makes it more difficult for us to source review units! Watch this space, we’re working on it.

The CPU Roadmap

A lot of the recent talk regarding AMD’s future in the desktop CPU space has revolved around its next-generation CPU architecture called Zen. In August, AMD opened up to a significant part of the underlying Zen microarchitecture, detailing a micro-op cache, a layered memory hierarchy, dual schedulers and other information. Nonetheless Zen is initially aiming for the high-end desktop (HEDT) market, and AMD has always stated that Zen will share the AM4 platform with new mainstream CPUs, under the Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge names, initially based on an updated Excavator microarchitecture.

AMD’s roadmap seems to be the following:

The latest AMD announcements are for that mainstream segment, but we can see that AMD is moving from a three-socket configuration of AM3, FM2+ and AM1 into a singular AM4 platform from top to bottom, with the budget element perhaps being more embedded focused. This has positives and negatives associated with it, which is part of the reason why AMD is staggering the release of Bristol Ridge and the 7th Generation APUs between OEMs and PIBs.

The positive from the unified problem is that AMD’s OEM customers can have a one size fits all solution that spans from the budget to the premium, which makes OEM designs easier to translate from a high powered platform to a budget system. The downside is variety and compatibility – if a vendor designs a platform purely for a budget system, and has fewer safeguards, then a user cannot simply put in the most powerful CPU/APU available. Luckily we are told that all AM4 systems should be dual channel, which migrates away from the Carrizo/Carrizo-L problem we had in notebooks late last year.

AMD 7th Gen Bristol Ridge and AM4: The CPUs, Overclocking The Integrated GPU
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  • Haawser - Thursday, September 29, 2016 - link

    Actual evidence points to GF.

    Look at the photo of the chip-

    'Diffused in Germany' means the chip itself was made at GF in Dresden. Then shipped to Malaysia for packaging. Unless the photo is fake. Which is unlikely.
  • DOS5 - Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - link

    Wondering if I understood correctly -- is video card slot limited to 8 lanes? If so, how will this affect APU with video card as primary, APU with video card in dual graphics, and Athlon x4 CPU with video card?
  • Marstg - Saturday, October 22, 2016 - link

    Mr Cutress, we are one month later, where is the Bristol Ridge hardware? It would seem easier to reach out to Costco than AMD and have the platform tested. Where are you guys with that?
  • Camdex - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - link

    Interesting article but disappointed in the overclocked benchmarks. AMD can say what they want about Excavator v2 cores but if these benches at 4.8ghz are legit its only going to slightly put it over the recent Athlon 860k. Im doing this comparison based on the future Athlon will be based off the A12 9800. My Athlon 860k gets a cinebench r15 score of 368 at 4.5ghz. IF it overclocked to 4.8ghz I'd bet it'd score right around the same 380 the A12 9800 did. On the plus side IF 4.8ghz is possible on the new Excavator v2 based chips and the power consumptuon is down thats a big plus. I was just hoping the new Athlons would be scoring a bit better say near 400 in cinebench r15 at stock clocks and for $100 or less. But hear this INTEL... I will never pay $180 for a dual core even if it does overclcock well. The new i3 7350k is a joke.
  • Gadgety - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    AMD did something similar with the A8-7600 midrange APU. Announced it, launched it, allowed testing by tech sites, and gave OEMs full access, but it took a full 8 months before it was available to the general public.
  • msroadkill612 - Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - link

  • Glock24 - Sunday, May 14, 2017 - link

    We already have Zen and Bristol Ridge is nowhere to be found anywhere apart from OEM systems. What a shame, would've made a decent office computer.
  • Shayne03 - Saturday, December 2, 2017 - link

    Hi i bought a10-9700 with stock hs and a320m vh plus msi motherboard.. my cpu temperature is always at 50 to 60 degree is it normal?

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