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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  • msroadkill612 - Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - link

    Good post. Ta.

    Yep, for well over a decade, we hear from sisc fans how they are the future, yet i seem to live in a world where further miniturisation is the key to progress, and what better way than cisc on a single wafer, using commonly 14nm nodes, soon to be 7nm from GF.

    Intuitively, Spread out, discrete chips cant compete with "warts and all" ciscS.

    As it looks now, the new zen/vega amd apu, seems a new plateau of SOC, and may even be favoured in server gpu/cpu processes.

    we know amd can make ryzen, which is 2x4 cpu core units on one am4 socket plug.

    its a safe bet vega will be huge.

    we know amd can glue an above 4 core unit to a vega gpu core on one am4 socket (from raven ridge apu specs) - i.e they can mix and match cpu/gpu on one am4 socket.

    we know the biggest barrier to gpuS in the form of memory bandwidth, has been removed by vegaS HBM2 memory, and placing it practically on the chip.

    We know it doesnt stop there. Naples will offer 2x ryzen on one socket soonish, and there is talk of 64 core, or 8 ryzens on one socket.

    So why not 8 x APUs, or a mix of ryzen cpuS & APUs for g/cpu compute apps?
  • pattycake0147 - Friday, September 23, 2016 - link

    Pretty sure it was mainly a joke playing on the names...
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - link

    I'm coming in late and trying to understand what appears to me to be a ridiculous argument. Apple A10 Vs AMD A10??? What??? Totally unrelated. Might as well add an Air Force A10 to the list since we seem to be wanting to compare everything with A10 in the name.
  • paffinity - Friday, September 23, 2016 - link

    Lol, Apple A10 would actually win.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 23, 2016 - link

    Apple A10 is actually faster than any AMD chip at Jetstream, Kraken, Octane, and pretty much every other benchmark that measures real world web browsing performance. Such is the sad state of AMD.
  • ddriver - Friday, September 23, 2016 - link

    JS benchmarking is is a sad joke. You compare apples to oranges, as the engine implementation is fundamentally different. No respectable source would even consider such benchmarks a measure of actual chip performance.
  • xype - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    I’m as "happily locked in" into Apple’s platforms as anyone, but the whole "lol A10 kicks x86 ass" thing is getting retarded. It’s a fine CPU, sure, but how people can’t comprehend that it’s designed for a whole different set of usage scenarios is beyond me.

    Now, that’s not to say Apple isn’t working on a desktop class ARM CPU/GPU combo, but _that_ would be a real surprise.
  • Meteor2 - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    It's a measure of end-user experience, however.
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, September 25, 2016 - link

    Not necessarily. Those benches Shadow mentioned are more of a measure of a particular browser's optimizations for those benches, than anything.
  • silverblue - Saturday, September 24, 2016 - link

    Yet HSA would yield far bigger performance gains. The only issue is unlike iOS-specific optimisations which you're running into all the time, unless you're using specifically optimised software then HSA won't be helping anybody.

    If HSA was some intelligent force that automatically optimised workloads, I don't think anybody would dare suggest an Apple mobile CPU beating a desktop one.

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