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Ryzen Mobile Rises to 12nm

January 15, 2019

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Amid flat laptop shipments, PC vendors hope gaming notebooks will attract more users willing to pay higher prices for higher performance. AMD’s new second-generation Ryzen Mobile processors attack Intel’s dominance in this specialized segment while broadening the choices for mainstream users. Although they introduce no new features relative to the first generation, they nudge clock speeds upward and provide higher power/performance options for notebooks that can dissipate the additional heat.

AMD is exploiting Intel’s long-delayed move to 10nm technology by manufacturing most of its new Ryzen Mobile products in a 12nm FinFET process that boosts CPU and GPU clock speeds compared with its existing 14nm chips. To gain even more clock-frequency headroom, the new H-series raises the TDP to 35W—more than twice that of the U-series. And in a bid for bargain seekers, the new A-series drops the TDP to only 6W and uses trailing-edge 28nm CMOS technology to offer low-power, low-cost chips for Chromebooks. All told, the second-generation Ryzen Mobile family is a broad response to Intel’s popular Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 mobile processors, including the latest Whiskey Lake and Coffee Lake models.

In most respects, the new Ryzens are identical to their predecessors. They have the same first-generation Zen CPUs, Radeon Vega GPUs, integrated south-bridge functions, and I/O interfaces. The process shrink from 14nm to 12nm follows the same path as the second-generation Ryzen desktop models, boosting clock speeds by about 5–10%. Although the enhancements are minor, they show that AMD continues to execute on an annual cadence without serious hiccups. The improved execution bodes well for future transitions to the Zen 2 core and 7nm node, which will make these products even better.

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