For anyone tracking AMD’s family of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs), the last generation Carrizo was launched back in the middle of 2015. This was based on the fourth iteration of the Bulldozer module design (the cores are codenamed Excavator), focused entirely on notebooks at a 15-35W power window. Today marks the pre-announcement of the 2016 line, Bristol Ridge, for notebooks.

The main difference between Bristol Ridge and Carrizo is the implementation of a DDR4 memory controller, along with minor microarchitecture manufacturing tweaks. We’ve already seen Carrizo/Excavator under DDR4 in the embedded space, and AMD is claiming that this latest generation of Bristol Ridge offers up to at 50% CPU improvement over Kaveri, launched in 2014, and Bristol Ridge is some 10% over Carrizo due to the new memory support.

Despite AMD quoting a 50% gain in Cinebench compared to Kaveri, AMD’s strengths in the notebook line are partly due to the integrated graphics, which historically gets a boost from faster memory. Although this depends on the underlying design by the OEM, as we detailed in our Carrizo OEM overview that pointed the finger at base single channel memory designs being the norm at retail, rather than dual channel.

Today is a pre-announcement, which means that details are very thin. The reason this is not a full launch lies in one of AMD’s OEM partners, HP, announcing a new notebook at GTC this week based on AMD’s Bristol Ridge designs. HP is AMD’s biggest partner in notebooks, and is launching the HP Envy x360 15-inch variant using a Bristol Ridge part under the AMD FX naming scheme.

We’ll go deeper into the Envy x360 announcements in a separate news post. But this pre-announcement means that AMD are happy to talk about high level details such as 3DMark performance compared to Carrizo and Intel, FreeSync sypport, Dual Graphics, DirectX 12 and so on, but we will have to wait until Computex 2016 when we’ll get the full breakdown of the APU advancements, SKU names, clock speeds and where these APUs will be implemented.

As mentioned in previous news posts, AMD on the desktop has confirmed that Bristol Ridge and the upcoming Summit Ridge APUs featuring a brand new microarchitecture design will share a platform. We could extrapolate (as others have done so) to suggest that this notebook platform will also be the one supporting Summit Ridge on notebooks when it is released, however AMD has not officially confirmed this for this pre-announcement. We will have to wait for Computex for more details.

Further Reading:

AMD Launches Excavator APUs for Embedded with DDR4 Support
Who Controls the User Experience? AMD’s Carrizo Thoroughly Tested
AMD Launches Carrizo: The Laptop Leap of Efficiency and Architecture Updates

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  • hamoboy - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    Their single channel designs were meant for Jaguar cores. They can make it so their single channel motherboard designs only work with Jaguar cores.
  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    Dual channel is nice if you're into gaming or using the compute capability of the GPU. Otherwise, single channel will suffice and one can search and buy the similar RAM stick inside the device.

    Unfortunately for AMD, all these innovation is for nothing because of Intel's superior process technology. I just hope they can catch up with the help of Samsung.
  • nandnandnand - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    An AMD APU is a good value for cheap laptops. Unfortunately, Bristol Ridge is a terrible buy with 14nm around the corner.
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    "How do you propose they do that? AMD is desperate for business and could not survive dictating design to customers they know full well are looking to fill the low end of their product line."

    They could but they won't. And it's not for that reason.
  • linuxisfree - Saturday, April 9, 2016 - link

    It seems AMD is really drunk with generating hype and making promises lately. They created the Vulkan API and were the last company to have a graphics driver that actually supported it. Linux users are still waiting to have an official driver release that supports more than just the 390. Please hire some developers so your hardware has some drivers that weren't written by freelance fans in the community.
  • jules2416 - Saturday, April 9, 2016 - link

    "AMD on the desktop has confirmed that Bristol Ridge and the upcoming Summit Ridge APUs featuring a brand new microarchitecture design will share a platform."

    I thought they confirmed that Zen Cpus fit into AM4. Did they say anything about Zen APUs? Low-performance APUs I take for granted. But what about high-performance? Because if they release a 150-200 W, 8 core, R9-graphics high-performance APU with HBM2 shared between CPU and GPU, will that work on AM4?
  • UtilityMax - Monday, April 11, 2016 - link

    Eventually, these APUs will find their way into bargain basement junk laptops with 768p screens and single channel memory. How exciting.
  • Bleakwise - Sunday, April 24, 2016 - link

    Bristol Ridge is being hugely underestimated for a few reasons.

    First of all, it's moving to DDR4 from DDR3. Charrizo was starved for memory bandwidth, it needed more and DDR4 will provide that.

    Second of all, Bristol Ridge has the Delta Compression technology from Tonga on it. This provides about a 50% boost to memory bandwidth to the APU. So all in all we're looking at about 180% to 240% the memory bandwidth from low end DDR3.

    Last but not least, it's more power efficient. This means that it won't need as large of a heat-sink or as many heat-pipes or fans to keep the CPU/APU cooled. This also translates into better battery life.

    The one catch will be the same thing that caught Charizzo. They're meant to be low price bang for the buck, not ultra budget PCs and manufactures don't seem to understand that a Charrizo with 16gb dual channel LPDDR3 2133 will cost less and outperform a similar priced single channel i3 and 940m dedicated GPU and do so while requiring either a cheaper battery or providing longer battery life, which would let them make their money back and then some simply by raising the MSRP form 300 to 350$.

    Sadly, manufacturers I've seen who do Charrizo right also pair it with a bunch of crap you don't need, like a 1080p or 1200p screen, which is too high of a resolution for the IGPU, and isn't really required because it supports Virtual Super Resolution, which would let people experience a 1080p or 1200p desktop size and scaling on a 720p or 768p screen and probably not even know the difference.

    It doesn't need to be brushed aluminum and packed with optical drives either, a simple expansoin slot so I can later upgrade to having both an OS SSD and large storage HDD or BDROM would be my choice anyway. Actually, an empty NVME slot that can be my boot drive, 1tb or 500gb mechanical HDD and BDROM would be my ideal choice. Hell, you could sell it with a single 8gb DDR4 stick as long as you also sold the dual channel "3d gamer ready" upgrade stick I could buy for it later.

    Seriously, a single 8gb ddr4 stick, mechanical hdd, bd rom, empty NVME slot I can boot from, and option to buy the pairing dual channel stick later for 16gb, and a 15" 720p screen running Virtual Super Resolution 1080p would be my ideal setup, made out of cheap plastic and having enough heat-pipes to keep it adequately cooled at turbo speeds again maybe the 2nd fan could kick on only while it's plugged in. If I could buy that for about 350$ I would fucking wait in line like an Apple fanboy to pick one up.

    Having the dGPU that can enable Hybrid Crossfire with it while it's plugged into the wall would be the icing on the cake but isn't mandatory.. I would rather keep costs around 350$ but I'm sure there would be a market for something like that if it only added another 50$ or so. It would create a pretty nice gaming setup while being plugged in especially if Bristol Ridge pairs up with the 360 or 360x or 370.

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