Back in March, AMD made waves with the launch of their 7nm “Renoir” APUs. These impressive chips packed in 8 “Zen 2” CPU cores at a low power consumption, alongside 8 “Vega” GPU cores. The results were impressive, and have put Intel on the back foot in the mobile space. Moreover, enthusiasts started taking notice. People realised that the fully integrated design had an impressively low memory latency compared to chiplets. More recently, B550 motherboards have been claiming even higher memory overclocks with some “future CPU”, assumed to be desktop Renoir. Rumours have also circulated about the overclocking headroom of the infinity fabric or “FCLK” on Renoir, which would further help feed the fast Zen 2 cores.
Now, it’s finally here. AMD are launching the Ryzen 4000 G-series processors, a set of desktop CPUs based on the “Renoir” die. However, there’s a catch.
Desktop Renoir: Not Sold Separately
Despite the enthusiast buzz around these CPUs, AMD are not offering their desktop Renoir products separately at this time. According to AMD;
“The Ryzen 4000 G-Series Desktop Processors are expected to be available in systems from OEM partners including Lenovo and HP starting in Q3 2020. The Ryzen PRO 4000 Series Desktop Processors will be available from SIs at launch on July 21st and are expected in systems from OEM partners starting later this fall.”
Hammering this home, the press release adds;
“The Ryzen 4000 G-Series, Athlon 3000 G-Series, Ryzen PRO 4000 Series and Athlon PRO 3000 Series Desktop Processors are exclusively available from SIs and OEM partners.”
This means you can’t go out and buy a Ryzen 7 4700G for your self-built system – yet. Of course, some retailers may manage to get hold of the chips anyway.
Now, in the press briefing AMD say categorically that they know people are excited about Renoir, and that there are “next-gen APUs” coming for both 400 and 500 series motherboards. AMD are shy about specifics, but stress that people shouldn’t assume these chips will be non-retail forever.
So, why is AMD not launching desktop Renoir at retail?
Theory 1: Availability
These chips are made entirely on TSMC’s 7nm, with a reported 150mm2 die size compared to 76mm2 for the 8-core CCD on a Ryzen 3000 series chip. If the supply of TSMC 7nm wafers is the limit, AMD can make twice as many 3700Xs as 4700Gs. If AMD’s aim is to supply as many processors as possible, maybe that’s easier to do with 3000 series options.
Theory 2: Performance/Cost
If you’re building a PC with a discrete graphics card, then a Ryzen 4000 G-series uses silicon on a GPU that’ll be inactive. This is a potential problem. That silicon area isn’t free, and these chips could be more expensive to make than Ryzen 3000 equivalents. However, with a quarter of the cache performance might not stack up. If the chips are priced above faster options in AMD’s own stack, they’d be a bad buy. It’s probably fair to assume AMD doesn’t want to sell chips that would be a bad buy. The OEM market, on the other hand, has far more systems without discrete GPUs. For OEMs, the choice is either Ryzen 4000 G-Series or both Ryzen 3000 and a GPU. For them, desktop Renoir looks a lot better.
Theory 3: BIOS Support
Back in May, AMD found themselves in a bit of a kerfuffle when it emerged that B450 and X470 motherboards weren’t planned to support future processors. Since B550 launched so late, many enthusiasts had paired a B450 motherboard with a Ryzen 5 CPU and were irked to find themselves without an upgrade path. AMD responded by offering to shoulder the burden of making Zen 3 work on B450, with some caveats.
Now, these Ryzen 4000 G-Series chips are not Zen 3. AMD still have to support upcoming Zen 3 chips, which haven’t appeared yet. By delaying the consumer launch, AMD can perhaps deal with both at once – making the whole process less painful.
Desktop Renoir: Meet the Ryzen 4000 G-series
AMD are launching 4, 6 and 8-core models. Each core count comes with two variants – one has a 65W TDP, the other is 35W with reduced clocks. All come in an AM4 package, and are based on 7nm technology.
AMD are touting a huge generational leap of up to 2.5x compared to the “Picasso” series Ryzen 5 3400G and Ryzen 3 3200G. A lot of this will come from the doubling of core count, and on top of this the Zen 2 cores are much faster. AMD are also pressing an advantage against competing 9th gen Intel parts (newer Comet Lake chips are apparently hard for even AMD to find). The claim is 1-2x the competitor in content creation, and 1.99-3.74x in iGPU gaming. We won’t dwell on performance claims because they’re against last gen products, but it looks like the current gen comparison should still be in AMD’s favour for content creation and iGPU gaming.
|GPU FREQ. (MHz)
|AMD Ryzen 7 4700G
|4.4 / 3.6
|AMD Ryzen 7 4700GE
|4.3 / 3.1
|AMD Ryzen 5 4600G
|4.2 / 3.7
|AMD Ryzen 5 4600GE
|4.2 / 3.3
|AMD Ryzen 3 4300G
|4.0 / 3.8
|AMD Ryzen 3 4300GE
|4.0 / 3.5
As always, ‘boost’ speed here is an absolute maximum hit with light ‘bursty’ loads and low temps.
Also Launching: Athlon Gold and Silver
AMD are also announcing a brace of new Athlon-branded processors today, set to compete with Intel’s Pentium and Celeron lineup. AMD note that these are based on Zen, as opposed to Zen 2. Presumably we’re looking at rebrands of past APUs, perhaps on 12nm or even 14nm like the 3000G. iGPU clock on all of these is 1100MHz.
|Athlon Gold 3150G
|4C / 4T
|Athlon Gold 3150GE
|4C / 4T
|Athlon Silver 3050GE
|2C / 4T
The Conclusion: Watch This Space?
This is a bit of an odd launch. The CPUs are out, but you can’t buy them. For now, these chips should enable some really interesting designs from OEMs and system integrators. The strength of the onboard graphics ensures that a good all-round PC can be made without a bulky graphics card. Performance will no doubt vary depending on exact implementation, with better-cooled systems having an advantage as well as those where the OEM or SI has sprung for DDR4-3200.
I’ll leave you with a slide from an AMD corporate blog post, showcasing an as yet unidentified Lenovo all-in-one. The slick design is an example of the kind of thing we can expect more of now APUs can truely hold their own.