How AMD is Using its Ryzen Mobile Processors to Deal With a Changing World
A year or two ago it was nearly impossible to find laptops with anything other than Intel’s processors in the market, primarily because of a lack of viable options from sole competitor AMD, and also Intel’s brand recognition. However, AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors are now appearing in more and more laptops from every major brand. The Ryzen Mobile 4000 Series launched at the beginning of this year has been quite successful, but with some estimates pegging its current market share at just under 20 percent, there’s still a lot of room for growth.
With fresh competition about to hit the market, Gadgets 360 was able to get some insights from Vinay Sinha, Managing Director – Sales, AMD India, about the company’s goals and strategy for India.
Gadgets 360: How has the ‘Zen 2′ architecture been scaled down and adapted for notebooks, and what do we need to know about the key differences between mobile and desktop Ryzen processors?
Vinay Sinha: The most noticeable difference here is our selection of core count (up to 8 cores in mobile vs up to 16 in desktop) as well as our L3 cache size (8MB in mobile vs up to 64MB in desktop). Using a monolithic design in notebook applications saved power and space. Staying with PCIe 3.0 and understanding that the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 is still sufficient for notebook use cases is another key decision that helps save power. Finally, bringing LPDDR4X support into our notebook portfolio was another way to manage power at an SoC level and from a “whole system” point of view.
In notebooks, especially ultrathins, achieving performance and efficiency at the same time can be challenging, so limiting functions or features that users don’t generally need in a mobile device allowed us to repurpose that power for actual end-user performance benefits and can help to achieve better battery life. Our mobile architecture also has additional power management built in to maximise CPU efficiency.
Gadgets 360: What notebook categories and price segments are seeing the most demand in India, and how will AMD’s offerings stand out?
Vinay Sinha: India is a young market, with students and working professionals who love their fair share of multi-tasking, gaming, and entertainment. Consumers are also getting more discerning and are more aware of the technologies and features today.
We are expanding our footprint in the gaming segment with 4000 Series-based systems coming to market from leading OEMs as they upgrade their gaming notebooks with our latest processors.
Gadgets 360: Will the general decline in the overall PC market make it difficult for AMD to achieve its goals?
Vinay Sinha: IDC reported an 11.2 percent year-on-year growth, with shipments of 72.3 million notebooks and desktops in Q2 2020. The rise can be partially attributed to remote working and learning, which have become prevalent. Remote working, digital learning, and changing mobile computing needs have paved the way for [multiple] home PCs too. The current environment is providing tremendous growth and supply opportunities for mobile PC brands as demand continues to grow. We are uniquely positioned to offer a great solution and people are investing in our systems for their multi-purpose needs.
Gadgets 360: What does AMD think of emerging form factors such as bendable, foldable, dual-screen laptops? Will current and/or future Ryzen CPUs address these segments?
Vinay Sinha: Consumers are seeking portable and ultra-thin designs that deliver performance for long durations. Improvements in efficiency by OEMs are likely to pave the way for even more attractive form factors in the future. For AMD, performance, visual experience, and the capability to work faster or play longer matters with all devices, irrespective of size or form factor. However, we cannot comment on anything that is not announced yet.
Gadgets 360: Does 7nm process technology give AMD enough of an advantage to take on Qualcomm’s laptop CPUs which promise multi-day battery life, integrated cellular data, and instant responsiveness?
Vinay Sinha: AMD’s focus and expertise lies in building high-performance designs, and ‘Zen 2′ is a great example of that. We aimed to deliver a product that is responsive in short tasks, powerful in more demanding tasks, and which also delivers fantastic battery life. We think we have accomplished these goals, and the early consumer feedback of Ryzen Mobile 4000 Series processors is complimentary of our accomplishments as well. Whilst certain parts of the market will of course use alternative solutions, AMD remains committed to achieving our goal of delivering high performance computing to as many people as possible.
Gadgets 360: Is 4G/ 5G integration a priority for the near future?
Vinay Sinha: We do not comment on future product lines, but we will always be evaluating technologies which will help us to bring the best products to market.
Gadgets 360: Has the global pandemic and lockdown situation changed AMD’s roadmaps and projections because of weaker discretionary spending, manufacturing constraints, or other factors?
Vinay Sinha: The lockdown has brought in unprecedented challenges for brands across the board. We too have adapted to these changes and stepped up in these times with the support of our ecosystem. The arrival of the new Ryzen Mobile 4000 Series processors and previous-generation notebook processors have enabled us keep the momentum going. The consumer sentiments are positive towards AMD, and the consumer PC segment looks promising as we see continuing demand for personal computing in households coming to terms with this new normal. We are witnessing a shift towards multiple PCs per household.
AMD possesses a world-class global supply chain, and we are well positioned today to continue to execute well. We are making sure we are doing everything we can to meet customer demand in this current situation. We continue to execute on our roadmap and are looking forward to bringing new CPU and GPU products to market.
Gadgets 360: Why will there only be one laptop with AMD Smartshift in 2020? Are there any plans to make AMD CPUs and/or GPUs interoperable with Intel/Nvidia ones to achieve the same platform-level power and thermal goals?
Vinay Sinha: This being our first implementation of AMD SmartShift, we wanted to be very selective so we could focus our efforts in a very hands-on way and ensure we delivered a great solution. We anticipate seeing more Smartshift-enabled platforms in the future. As far as any future for power-shifting with other discrete GPUs, we do not have any comment at this time.
Gadgets 360: How is AMD bringing OEMs on board and making sure that their designs are effective, especially in terms of thermals and battery life?
Vinay Sinha: There two elements to this; what I’ll call a “pull” and a “push”. The “pull” is the natural desire by OEMs to put Ryzen Mobile processors in their premium systems. These are laptops that the OEMs feel represent the best they have to offer in the market, and so they naturally want to deliver great performance, thermals, and battery life in those platforms.
With Ryzen mobile processors making up an increasing part of OEM businesses, they are now pulling AMD to engage earlier in the design cycle to ensure their platforms are taking advantage of our architecture and thermal management capabilities. The ”push” from the AMD side is in the guidance we give OEMs to ensure they pair Ryzen 4000 series mobile processors with the highest quality components, validated in our own labs to deliver a great user experience.
Gadgets 360: So far Ryzen mobile processors have been most used for relatively bulky and/or low-end laptops. Has this hurt AMD’s appeal?
Vinay Sinha: This was a notion of the past. With Ryzen Mobile 4000 Series processors, and even the previous generation of Ryzen Mobile, our engineering teams have built the best competitive mobile processors. Our design wins from all the top OEMs this year are a great testimony to AMD’s commitment to provide processors for modern, thin-and-light, portable laptops. Our products are indeed meeting consumer needs and delivering performance across price points – high-end for gaming, premium ultra-thin, value, and mainstream segments.